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Depression’s Two-Pronged Approach

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Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

I’ve been experiencing recently another hit of heightened anxiety. The kiddos went back to school, and today they started walking to school on their own. They are walking together, and it’s a 10-minute walk, and my son has done it through much of last year, and most of the way is packed with other students and their parents. Still, anxiety was high this morning until the awaited text message arrived.

But it’s not just that, of course. On top of the pandemic, there has been a bunch of personal stuff that I need to come to terms with (more details later on, perhaps). And in this context, it has been hard to motivate myself to work. Everything I write feels flat and dreadful, and I can’t bring myself to read the non-fiction book I’ve wanted to read for months now.

Mostly it’s just a feeling of disappointing myself; of not living up to expectations. And, of course, the main thought is “who do you think you are?” My audacity in deciding that I could write something that someone would ever want to read is staggering. It requires a special kind of arrogance, to think I have anything new or interesting to say.

I know, in my head, that these are depression lies. This is how depression works: it floods your brain with feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness. I want actually to break this down now and talk first about the inadequacy. It’s that feeling of who do you think you are, that you won’t ever be as good as *insert name of excellent writer*. Which is probably true, by the way. The research that people with depression see the world in a less biased way made intuitive sense to me. But this is a feeling I can cope with. I have been dealing with it for most of my life. I have techniques.

The hopelessness is a whole new beast, one that I’ve only begun to experience recently. The feeling that this will never get better. Even when my father died, one of the first things I remember thinking was “someday we’ll be happy again”. And now, even though I have suffered no personal loss, all I can think is “it will never get better”. That is the tricky part. Because if nothing will ever get better, what’s the point of schedules and goals? What’s the point of making myself sit and write? Of pushing through or fake-it-till-you-make-it? What’s the point of the hard-earned techniques I developed over the years if nothing is ever getting better?

Again, I know in my head that these thoughts stem from the depression. By the way, the reason I know it in my head is that some fantastic people speak about these things publicly. But knowing stuff in your head is not like knowing them in your heart. Knowing isn’t the same as believing. Still, I push through because that’s how I’ve been raised. And I remind myself that it gives me a first-rate window into depression and anxiety, which means I am more equipped to write these kinds of characters.


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