Depression is depressing
I feel like a great friend might kill himself.
And I like to joke sometimes that I’ve only had two enemies in my life, and they’re both dead.
Cause it’s true. The first one was a bipolar racist asshole, I didn’t really realize we were enemies until a week before he died. The second wasn’t an enemy as much as a covert adversary who was also a thrill seeker who just drove his car into a tree. Alcohol may have been involved, but it’s hard to say – he always seemed to drive like that.
The first guy I understand well enough to know there were many things going on in his head and his life. I didn’t realize we had an adversarial relationship until it was so late, and he was doing some horrible things to some people I was a fan of at the time, mostly because I was picking up on stuff like alcoholic dad, ideology that’s . .. weird . . .and trying to figure out why those were his ideologies. And then I decided “fuck him! He should go die” and then he actually spent an entire afternoon trying to get access to Hunter school’s rooftop, and then flung himself off the 80 story building.
I’m not saying my impulse and his behavior were related. I’m saying that’s fucked up.
Then dating a gal with constant migraine headaches, of a pretty amazing cause, taught me one thing:
In sum, I suck at dealing with people with depression. I wanna confront feelings which isn’t everybody’s way. Especially not the depressed.
After this girl suffered pain for pretty much most of the day on a regular basis, left her job, and became a quarter-lifer with little confidence as to job marketability in today’s world, with a zany background of her own, she got hit with a severe bought of depression. She became withdrawn, she didn’t want to go outside, when she wasn’t playing world of warcraft she seemed like a completely different person, with little motivation, and little ability to express a passion for life that she didn’t feel.
And I sucked! It’s true. There’re a few reasons for it:
I was over-‘educated’ on psychology. Hey, I’m a smart psych major, but knowing about biological causes made me think I could fix things. “Oh, you just need” was an oft-mentioned attitude. I always believed that if you cover your healthy basics, you’re off to a good start. I believe doing better = a better start. And then, having your bases covered on every tier on maslow’s heiarchy of needs = well, why yoo sad?
But I couldn’t even make her feel safe from her own brain. So, hey if you get more sunshine you’re more easily able to produce serotonin . . .buuuuuut. . . . .
And from my own history, I’ve realized something weird about me:
I’m not immune to woes in life. I do handle them differently though, and I’m likely to get angry and hostile to unreasonable things which suck. I like to discuss and debate, that’s for sure. I consider myself a lil wiser for trying to construct arguments from smaller arguments rather than make impassioned big picture claims that overlook lots of crap, but when something’s unreasonable, I’m likely to stew, possibly isolate, or reach out to find superior value . . .REALLY persistently.
But that’s me. It’s just a way that I can be. I remember feeling saaaaad as hell, and at my rock bottom, I pet a cat, decided it was me and the cat against the world, and then I did stuff to build and build. It was pathetic, it was sad, but it’s also straight up honestly how I was and felt.
Eventually I proved myself wrong. Eventually I proved that it’s not me vs the world, but that I need to plug into the right niches, actualize my eccentricities to make them practical, AND work on my flaws, which are also very there to minimize plugging into the wrong things.
One of these flaws was trying to tell a depressed person how to not be depressed, rather than listening and offering helpful suggestions. Letting them know I AM available. TAKING MY AUDIENCE INTO ACCOUNT before shaping my words to them. Even the best of us get his by afflictions sometimes, and need what’s communicated to them to be more digestable. Even me . . . it takes energy . . . but if you actually care about your audience, wouldn’t you do that for them? Heck, if I can bother to spellcheck a manuscript, I can bother to consider my audience’s state of mind before disturbing it with my thoughts . . .
Two last notes:
Depressed people might lash out. Depressed people feel worse when you antagonize them for not seeing why they should get out of bed. Depressed people generally don’t respond to tough love very well (I think that’s when the first enemy killed himself – when his ex told him off . . . ) Depressed people have a shit-colored lens with which they see the world, and honestly, the best way to respond is with strength and positive regard, the strongest, warm fuzzy honest things you can offer – raw – and let them know that life is ok, and that they have virtues you dig them for.
Now, I’ve diagnosed one of my greatest friends with depression, and now he’s self diagnosed. And I’m not saying I’m a docta, I can just tell there’re sharp changes in his life where he’s making so many questionable decisions, there’s enough happening, there’re no positive responses to when he DOES reach out for what he wants, I started to wonder if he was genuinely getting depressed. And then he kind of confirmed it.
Last night was a really dramatic shift, from a discussion of him shitting on figs (The fruit, how they look) and me responding like I would to ANY normal good friend – with a lighthearted douchebaggy agreement – he proceeded to lash out real hard.
I made a mistake and lashed back. Not horribly, not too intensely, not maliciously, but to show hey buddy I didn’t realize we had expectations of perfection here . . .
Normally, this’d be all cool. But not lately, and I should have realized that. Not if I believe these feelings, that my buddy isn’t doing alright these days. There’s not a lot of insight in society that gives enough of a shit, to care enough, and get to know you enough to provide what’s best. I wanna be that guy.
So from a discussion of figs, he proceeded to try and friend-break-up with me or something. A lot of things are said in the moment, and I like to consider myself strong enough that I’ll get on by without anyone who’s a butt in my life, but, this was an address that needed to cool down.
So I said my piece, and then I said as nice and well meaning a thing as I honestly had to say, wished him the best, and cut the contact there so he can stew. I’m not sure if that’s what was best, and I’m concerned, but I am damn sure that that’s better than having an argument where we’re both critical of each other to the point where we both shit all over each others dignity.
(It’s funny, my main barb is that he’s despising his teenage self, and I think his teenage self was fucking awesome. I realized then I’m not talking to my best friend anymore. . . .and obviously the relationship ain;t the same – people do that after high school – but . . . .imagine hating yourself when it’s also real easy to see how you were a cool virtuous guy! Obviously your alignment has mutated, and, maybe I can’t relate to that so much . . . huge tragedy.)
Anyway, I took my shots. Some of his criticisms were valid, and what’s also interesting is – I’m aware of them. I wanna be the best guy I can be, so I consider why he said what he said and I don’t even fully disagree, and wanna better that. But this wasn’t a constructive conversation of how to be better/more likable, it was a shit on each other chat, and I cut that short after wishing the best.
Maybe that’s the best I can do. Fuck, at this stage in my life, maybe I’m not the most qualified person to inject good effective energy into other people’s lives, or at least not yet. But another thing about depressed people, they can bring you down. I don’t hold it against that girl who tough loved enemy #1 if that’s what she did. She might’ve said something cold in self-defense, and it’s not really her responsibility to coddle someone who’s teetering on the edge in such a way that they stay balance and stable. It’d just be NICE.
And I wanna be nice, but I don’t think I can do that. I do think the nicest thing I could do, is remove myself and provide space and good intentions until an opportunity to do better comes by. Which might not happen. I may very well be out this friend. I may very well receive the worst news possible about this guy (although it’s less than likely – and it’s far more likely he’ll turn into a wanderer until some adventure claims him)
But I dunno. Fak. I have to look at his recently most questionable decisions and think “fak, a spiral towards depression explains it all.” I think about levels of pride and ego, and how we fail to continue to hold ourselves accountable regarding what made us awesome in our youth (discovering new music, idealization, ACTUALLY EXPLORING PHILOSOPHIES TO LIVE BY, novelty) and think, fuck, we’re losing our magic. And some of us who do have these sensitivities, who aren’t psychopathic enough to pave a new path via steamroll, and are left to mold long enough in isolation . . .
fak . . .
I really wish my buddy the best. Even if he’s not my buddy these days, I think something is wrong with him and he’s growing less capable at growing anything but cynical. Things that were said from him lately . .. extremely cynical. I really wish he’d understand he’s got a spirit that DOES enrich the lives of pretty much everyone he influences (The smarter you are, the more you lurv him – fact) because personal value and esteem has got to be the greatest weapon against depression.
Finally, and I think my buddy is king on this one – but choice is choice. Depression is a condition, and thoughts are thoughts, many of which can’t be truly controlled or helped, but BEHAVIORS – that’s a choice. That is something I picked up from the psych degree. I am anti-Robbin Williams didn’t kill hisself depression did. Robin Williams totally killed himself. Heath Ledger too. The trick here, is making sure that the logical analysis consistently proves the dislogic between offing oneself. The next step, presuming the first is set in neuronal stone – is improve one’s own life. And finding the resources to do that.
Assholes like me may be douchebags, occasional, but we stand by for opportunities to be assets too. All the time.