Monday, November 24, 2014

Inside of me, in spite of me.

I've touched very briefly on having depression issues in the past, and I'd like to get into that in more depth. This post was spurred on by Depression Quest, and is going to deal with depression in general. I would like to avoid getting bogged down with any of the associated "scandals" or of any "movement" which may or may not suspiciously rhyme with "Flamer Hate."

As I mentioned in my last entry, I often don't even want to bring up my own experiences with depression because I know others have had it so much worse. I don't want to diminish anyone else's suffering, and I certainly hope that's not how it comes across. I think there's always some value in talking about personal experiences with mental illness, even if they are comparatively mild. A lot of people still don't understand what depression is, and so it follows that there is light yet to shed on the topic.

It's taken me forever to finally get around to playing through Depression Quest, and a large part of the reason is that I was afraid of how much it might hit home for me. I wouldn't call it denial, but things have been good for long enough that my history with depression just kind of floats out of my mind, and I forget that my relationship with depression is ongoing. A few years ago, I was complaining to a co-worker (my boss, actually) about how unaccomplished I feel for someone in my age group, and without missing a beat, she said "It's probably fair to say you've had some wounds to heal from in the past, and that takes time. There's no point in comparing your situation to anyone else's, nobody faces the same challenges." It completely threw me off... as I said, this was my boss... sure, we talked, but I don't think I was any more open with her than I have been with most people I associate with. Am I really that transparent, and more importantly, if someone else can see it, am I still hurting?

Well, the short answer is yes. This is why I call myself an artist and a lot of close friends haven't seen any of my work. This is why I miss social events because I'm "exhausted from work" and other people can manage work, school, and a social life with ease. This is why I'm writing this now and not immediately after Robin Williams died.

My motivation suffers pretty badly, and I tend to be acutely aware of my limitations.
That said, I'm very content with life, and a lot more social now than I was for a great deal of my life. Again, I must re-iterate: I'm doing much better than I have in the past. I don't talk about it a lot because I'm still ashamed of it, but there was a period a few years ago where my self-worth was very low, and I was very close to pulling a disappearing act; just moving away to somewhere that nobody would find me. Not telling family or friends, just leaving and starting over. I guess when you're depressed it's very easy to blame external factors, because there's no logical reason that your brain should be doing this to you. Why do you feel this way? There has to be a reason, right?

Well, the short answer is no.

Getting back to depression quest, playing through it, I related to the protagonist more closely than I had even feared, but at the same time, it was so comforting to have my own thought processes mirrored in someone else's words. Depression is still something that people don't talk about enough, and nothing illustrated that to me more clearly than playing this game. It's important to raise the point that depression is not just sadness; it's not just a reaction to a negative experience, and it isn't easily remedied by positive experiences. One facet of Depression Quest that stood out to me was its portrayal of being depressed in a romantic relationship. When I was younger I used to think that finding love would change everything and make me a happy person. It wasn't until I found myself lying on my bed so I wouldn't faint, on the phone with one of my first girlfriends on the other end of the line, cutting herself, that I realized: Love doesn't fix people.

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