Thursday, November 29, 2012

There Is No Logic in Depression

Let me say first that I appreciate feedback. There is a certain amount of relief in writing to an invisible audience that I cannot see; that is mostly silent, that simply takes what I have to say and holds it in infinite thought and wisdom; to release my thoughts into the universe and know that it doesn’t matter what happens to them, as long as they are no longer stuck inside me.

As much as I appreciate the invisible audience, I am always surprised and pleased when I discover that someone I know has been reading what I have to say; even more so when they tell me that what I had to say has helped them in some way. While it always feels important to write – and I write every day, regardless of whether I share it – it is often lost on me how my writing is projecting me forward. Sometimes, it seems like the only thing it’s doing is keeping me from sliding backward into an abyss.

Very, very often, the people who read my blog posts tell me that they are impressed and moved by my courage and my ability to share such private thoughts. In this day and age of social network profiles, when everyone is privy to a lot of information about friends and acquaintances alike, it seems that there is a layer to many of us that we are unable to share. While it may seem that my admissions are courageous and deep, I always feel guilty when people tell me they’re impressed with what I reveal, and though I mean no disrespect, here is my deep down honest response: you have no fucking idea how much deeper I could go.

So here’s something that I should have written about a long time ago; something many people have come out to me about; something that should be shared much more often: depression.

I have only dabbled with this disease myself. By this, I mean that I am acquainted with people who suffer much more severely and often than I do. I mean that my depression is usually situational, and the cure for me is fairly simple: do everything in my power to get unstuck. For all of you who have ever wondered why I move around so much, why I can’t seem to stay in one place, why I can’t seem to endure certain situations: it is because I see a storm coming on the horizon, and the easiest way to ensure it doesn’t overtake me and leave me suffocating to death under a blackness that will not go away is to get out of the way before the hurricane arrives.

Before I get too carried away, let me say that there are many people who suffer depression. We are a hidden demographic; we fake it on our Facebook pages, we lie to our friends, we isolate ourselves so that we do not seem needy. Each time I have admitted my depression to someone, I have been told that I am not alone; that either this person has suffered as well, or someone they know has. All this, and yet each depressed person fights their own battle; they lie in the dark, staring at the ceiling, wondering why the world is closing in on them and no one else. We choose not to share because it shows weakness; we choose not to share because we don’t want to burden others with a pain that, deep down, we feel we deserve.

This is has come up again for me lately because I find myself feeling the beginning stages of depression setting in. They are like icy cold fingers that brush at my back: I can’t see this creature, but it has begun to silently follow me. I have desperately begun the sandbagging measures to keep depression at bay: more exercise, better food, talks with friends who understand and can tell me I’m not crazy; that it’s ok to choose my own survival at the risk of looking stupid, flaky, unhinged. I am afraid, and not so much of change, but of the monotony that allows this beast to catch up to me. It drags me backwards, whipping away all positive thoughts of my future, tearing the flesh of optimism off of me, dragging me down into a pit of despair, clawing at the edges of a bottomless hole, willing myself to hold on; to not give in; to conquer this unseen evil that lays waste to the best intentions and feeds on my worst nightmares.

And as I said, I only dabble in this disease. My depression is not constant; I feel better today than I did yesterday. I can still get up and work; I still have motivation to help myself before it’s too late. I am lucky enough to recognize the symptoms and I hold the key to my own release. It doesn’t look pretty, it scares me sometimes, and yet I have a way out. Not everyone is as lucky.

For anyone who has never felt depression’s icy grip, let me try to explain. Depression is like a vacuum. It is not feeling sad; it is not feeling. The things that used to delight me become meaningless; the words that would anger me leave me at a loss for words, and the idea that I should care more than I do. Depression tells me that logically, there is no way out of my situation, because good things happen to others, not to me. Depression steals my desire, my passion, my belief in a greater good, and a belief in myself. It sucks at my laughter and washes out my ability to put things in perspective. Everyone else is right; I am wrong. Nothing I say is worthwhile. I cannot hold my own truth, or answers.

Depression is like a wet blanket that covers me, making it hard to breathe, dampening all my emotions. It makes it hard to get out of bed; it makes me feel disappointed when I wake up, because the oblivion of sleep is the only thing saving me from the pain of inaction.

So there it is for those who have never suffered from depression. Now, to everyone else: you are not alone. I have heard you, and I understand. I have been where you are. It’s a shitty, shitty place to be, and yet there are more people with you than you would have ever imagined. Depression is not something to be ashamed of. It is something you can get help with. It can end. There is no use in asking “why me?” but there is a lot to be said for “I deserve help.” For me, depression is kept at bay by following my bliss: even if it’s terrifying at times, I know that it is possible to feel alive. Exercise, good food, conversations with understanding friends help dissipate the illusion of inadequacy. So does not arguing with yourself when your heart tells you what you need. It may not always make sense, but then again, neither does depression. Depression can turn any situation into one filled with its own logic, and yet there is much in the world that is illogical. Optimism is one example. Even more importantly, so is love. 

This is not a cry for help. It is a cry for understanding. Before you decide what I need or what someone else needs to help them feel better, realize that some of their decisions that may not make any sense to you could be their attempt to stave off a personal black hole. After fighting with depression myself, it’s easier for me to notice the battle in others. Some people throw themselves into their work, some into helping others or exercise. Some people may look like they’ve lost their minds, and yet whatever they’re doing is allowing them to live another day and keep the depression at bay.
So here’s to a little understanding, and a lot of encouragement: here’s to letting each of us follow our own path, and trusting that deep down, there’s some part of us that remembers that we deserve the best, and we’re worth seeking it out.

Love and not-so-depressed kisses,


  1. Hi Morgan,
    I just read your post today (then read all the ones this year), and I wanted to let you know that I really appreciated and related to it. Not that we've talked in years, but from your posts, I feel like I can relate. I also ‘dabble in depression,’ I've managed to keep it situational for many years, but enough that I have set up my life in specific ways to keep it at bay. I regularly exercise (somewhat excessively depending on who is talking) and generally try to stay busy and not sleep-deprived too much. I have also had a pretty rough year or so, I left grad school after being completely burned out and flirting with serious depression. I moved home with the parents and after recovering for a few months, I have been unsuccessfully job hunting, though not really having any solid idea what I actually want to do. I have been feeling very lost and adrift. There is nothing inherently wrong with where I am at in life (living at home, working at a bike shop), but it isn't where I want to be and I am far from happy working in retail. There is far too much time in retail to think and with every added job rejection it has been getting harder to stay happy and positive. I have been fighting off the depression again, and I also recently had a family bomb dropped where I can do nothing except stress and worry, which is not helping.
    I thought your description of depression was very good, at least for me, the lack of emotion, the isolation, inadequacy and for me lethargy. I especially liked how you describe losing your logic. That is one of the hardest things to describe to people who haven’t had it, at least for me, losing total perspective on you and your self-worth and use a twisted logic to further the depression. I am also one of the lucky ones, I have never lost the light at the end of the tunnel, I now know ways out, I know that it will pass and things will get better. Sorry for the long depressing comment! It was a bit of an outlet that I think I really needed right now. I just want to let you know that you have a friend from a long time ago who totally understands, thinks that you are great, and if you are ever in Portland I’d love to see you and talk about more positive things!

  2. Hello Morgan,
    I came across your blog through your post to the AoNC page and Mark Manson of PostMasculine. You have a great writing style backed up with substantive content as shown here. I enjoyed reading this one, kudos. I also read your first post, hopefully I can get around to reading the others sometime.

  3. Thank you Russ! I appreciate your comments, on both this post and my introduction. I welcome all your feedback and look forward to hearing more from you!