For quite some time I’ve been thinking about writing something, but never sure exactly of what. There were ideas, but admittedly I’ve been floating to and fro with summer classes, a fellowship, and my relationship with Rebby (who is as wonderful as always).
But I decided to write about my depression. This was influenced by an episode that began yesterday. I think it’s also motivated by the fact that whenever I go through this cycle, nothing seems to change.
I think a lot of people who have depression never get the space to admit to themselves that they’re not okay. On some level, they may acknowledge it, but they also have to conceal it for the benefit of friends and family who aren’t equipped to handle this.
The world doesn’t stop for your mental illness, and I know that for a fact. Even when I feel like an absolutely broken mess, I have to get up and go to class. I have to go out and see people because being alone makes things worse. Sometimes I can forget about it for a while, but it comes back.
I’m constantly asking myself if things are ever going to get better. I ask if I will ever get to that point, or if I even can. I easily get paranoid about what other people think because I’ve been burned by people I used to trust. I do think on some occasions that there are so many things wrong with me that I have no hope of ever addressing them all. I’m always ashamed of myself because of all the mistakes I make, often thinking about them long after the other person has forgotten.
Much of the time I do what I can, regardless. I believe that sometimes I have to just put one foot in the front of the other. But there’s a limit to that. I’m not invincible, and while broadcasting your vulnerability is something frowned upon I feel that there are many more in the same boat who want to articulate the exact same thing.
We never get to say “I’m not okay”.
I have grown cynical regarding how people handle this topic. I remember writing an article about depression and noting the resources available were sparse and obfuscated. How people who had the power to change things failed to act and it cost someone their life.
I can’t believe we live in a society that cares about mental illness when time after time people slip through the cracks and nothing changes. It feels like people are more willing to preserve the status quo over actually addressing the root causes of this.
I started thinking about how our living arrangements go into this, our economy, our family upbringing, and the social climate. Many of the tools we have for dealing with depression are individualistic in nature. You take the person dealing with depression and reconfigure their cognitive schema a la Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or you give antidepressants.
These have value. I’m not going to say that we should abandon them. But I’ve also started seeing a newer model for this, the idea that depression is a collection of responses to environments that fail to meet one’s psychological needs. I think we need to rethink a lot of our society because we have built a very efficient system for generating depression.
But of course, until that day comes(which it probably won’t because many of those systems were meant to benefit a group of specific people) these individualistic treatments are really all we have.
Which means that there are going to be many more who will slip through the cracks, many more who suffer in silence, and many more who will be shamed if they dare speak out.
But as for me, I’m going to disabuse others of this illusion. I don’t care to entertain the idea that I’m going to be silent about it. I’m going to own this, and I’ll say what I’m sure many more wish they could.
I’m not okay.