If My Depression Could Speak, This Is What I'd Ask It
When my depression's kicking my butt a little, I like to imagine myself sitting down with it for a heart-to-heart.
Why the bad timing?
I accept you, depression. I'm probably not going to wake up one day to find that you've checked out of my brain for good. You're something I have to deal with and I feel quite good about having accepted that, but could you please consider your timing?
Please hit me when I have nothing on my plate apart from rewatching Parks and Recreation. Please give me a break when work is super busy and I've had a stressful weekend and I'm trying to make a good impression on my boyfriend's friends instead of freaking out and tearing at my nails under the table.
I'd like to come out of depression feeling more triumphant every time, like Bender at the end of The Breakfast Club. I just need a heads-up.
Speaking of which, do you think you could send me a warning sign before you arrive?
Perhaps before you arrive you could send a smoke signal, a text message, or something physical like when your boobs ache a bit before a period? That way I could make some adjustments and cancel my plans.
I could say, "Sorry, it's 100% unlikely that I go to your party because I will be depressed," instead of not showing up and hoping it goes unnoticed.
I could tell my boss: "Sorry I won't be able to look at my computer screen today because everything is a bit fuzzy. No, my eyesight is fine – I have depression, that's all."
Could you develop a Grindr-style app, but for depression?
It would be great to spot local depressives in my area. Not for romance – maybe we could just hang out and make it all a little less lonely?
Perhaps it would allow us to see that our bosses are going through the same thing, or that that well-dressed woman on the bus with a briefcase and shiny court shoes took two hours to get out of bed today.
It would also indicate if people want to talk, because when you find someone you're able to talk openly to, whether they understand what you're going through or not, it's one of the best feelings. It's hard to find those people, and when you do, it's even harder to be brave enough and talk honestly about how you feel.
Do you think you could work out a schedule with anxiety?
While you, depression, can feel like a warm shower that envelopes me in a mildew-y mist, anxiety is the part of the shower that's too hot and stings my skin. You're both easier to deal with separately – I can just turn the temperature down – but when you're together it feels all the more overwhelming.
So maybe you guys could get a handy routine together. One week depression, one week anxiety, and then maybe we could have one week where both of you take it easy? That would be cool.
Will you ever grow up?
I don't mean this in a mean way. It's just that my body grows older, my hangovers get worse, my jokes improve (I think, probably not) – everything changes and adapts, but you seem to remain stagnant. You make me feel exactly the same way you made me feel as a teenager. That's what makes you all the more depressing, depression. There's no change or a sense of growth – you just seem suspended in time.
Will I be a good mother?
Unlike a lot of people my age, I cannot wait to have children. I've wanted children ever since I was a child. Sometimes I wonder if it has to do with having been a lonely kid and wanting a troupe of children of my own so I could make sure they'd never, ever feel lonely. We'll run around the Alps and sing songs on my ukulele. Yes I've watched The Sound of Music over 300 times.
Once I reach a point where having children seems like a good thing to do, I know I'll worry that my mental health might get in the way. What if I make my kids as miserable as me? What if it will be too much? All I want is to know that it'll be OK – it doesn't have to be perfect, just an OK will do.
How bad will you get?
I don't hate dealing with you and anxiety – it's not the worst thing in the world, even though it feels like it at times. It can be scary, especially when I think about the future and I wonder what's yet to come. It's scary to think about the cycle and the repetition. It's scary to think that you'll never go away.
You and I will run our course, and I will continue to do all the things I've been doing so far, be it medication, psychotherapy, group therapy, reading a thousand self-help books, listening to Conor Oberst on repeat, or going for walks. I've been through this enough to know what can make it a little easier, and that's all that matters: knowing that I've made it this far and it's still OK, and I'm going to be OK.
If you need information on depression or want to talk about your depression, you can call the Rethink advice and information service on 0300 5000 927 (10am–1pm), if you're in the UK.
The Depression Alliance, a charity for sufferers of depression, has a network of self-help groups.
You can call the Samaritans for confidential support if you're experiencing feelings of distress or despair on 08457 90 90 90 (24-hour helpline).
And you can call the Crisis Call Center at 1-800-273-8255 at any time of the day if you're based in the US.