Our faults are not our enemies. They are our key to understanding how to be a better friend to ourselves.
I missed a post at the beginning of this week. Truth is, I was extremely depressed and I didn’t want to put anything forth. To do so would be to give that state of mind credence, or worse—a platform.
But depression isn’t a rash. It won’t go away if I hide it long enough. Nor is it an inner demon or monster. An internal battle, yes, and one that’s often invisible. But at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that you’re battling something of this world. Something that can be dealt with, and defeated. Comparisons that suggest otherwise ignite stigma against mental health, deter treatment of illnesses, and act as the building blocks of M. Night Shyamalan’s newer movies. All of these effects are equally detrimental to society.
Here comes my unsolicited advice of the day (a Leo’s favorite hobby). First order of business: someone needs to let James McAvoy have hair in his next movie. The next bit of advice goes out to those battling mental illness. Define what you’re up against in more personal and achievable terms. Referring to depression as ‘fighting your demons’ romanticizes depression by adding a degree of the fantastical. And, for the depressed, it just doesn’t work. To me, it implies that one needs the help of something supernatural to defeat depression. Which is another way of saying it’s impossible. I may be a horoscope junkie, but I draw the line at believing in magic.
For this reason, I’ve decided to view depression as an abusive partner or toxic friend. When lonely and/or in love, it’s difficult to understand how someone you care about is harmful to your well-being. Like toxic people, depression is resilient and smart. There’s just enough relief strewn in between all the pain to keep you at its beck and call. On top of that, it’s easier to stick with the devil you know than it is to cut ties and pursue something better. Something healthier. Something that you might not ever find, or that might not even exist.
But at some point, you have to walk away. It’s excruciatingly difficult and obviously simple at the same time. I understand that’s not the case for everyone. So how do you find your metaphor?
I won’t lie, it’s tough. It takes a lot of self-reflection on patterns of intrusive thoughts and destructive behavior. Learning to understand your depression is key to beating it. I wish I could design a plan that could help everyone with this, but I only know my experience. (Insert poorly-timed Leo joke here).
Maybe this walkthrough will help. Something I find rather interesting is the fact that a product of my depression is helping me beat it. I tend to struggle with getting close to people emotionally. I used to think that letting people to get to know me was simply handing them the power to hurt me someday. That’s why dropping people comes so easily. It’s definitely not something to brag about. I’m not trying to endorse these thoughts, but rather acknowledge them so I can learn from past mistakes.
Anyways, they say old habits die hard. I’m good at dropping people. So I envision my depression as someone to drop.
For optimal SEO, Yoast for WordPress recommends a minimum of 300 words for a blog post. That’s the length of everyone’s favorite bullshit writing assignment, the one-page reflection. Nevertheless, I know there will be days when I’ll barely manage to hit that mark.
But moving forward, I’m going to do my best to aim for at least 302 words on my worst of days. Why so exact? More web speak, and weird metaphors from a Creative Writing major who decided to learn more about the internet.
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect to another URL, typically used when you want to change domain names and retain site traffic and authority. This is typically more common and useful than a 302 redirect, which is only temporary. But in the context of coping with depression, I’m more interested in the latter.
Depression doesn’t work around deadlines. There will be due dates that I’m not fully prepared for and days when, quite frankly, I’m feeling like utter shit. But I have to challenge myself to put something forth anyway. Hiding from life is the same as letting depression win. So I’ll tell myself to aim for 302 words, and that number will hopefully remind me that what I’m feeling is only temporary. The fog WILL clear, and it’s up to me to make sure I’m proud of who I see when it does.
I’m hoping this homemade mantra will work like a fitness tip that I’ve seen over the years. In order to get yourself to the gym in the morning, say that you’ll only stay for 20 minutes. But when you get there and get started, you’ll find that you’re capable of doing much more. That’s what happened with this current post, which was highly saturated with Teen Angst™ when I began writing it. I even considered stopping mid-sentence as soon as I hit 302 words.
Honestly, I’m 97% sure that will happen in a future post. And I don’t mind. I am who I am. A writer, always. Depressed, sometimes. And a Leo since birth. Thus, fluent in dramatic effect.