A good dose of melancholy and quirkiness have always been two of my “gifts”. Having an affinity to think deeply, imagine insane worlds and high-stakes situations, as well as feel emotions immensely are good things that help my creativity to write stories.
Depression and biploar issues, on the other hand, aren’t very much fun for my excitement-creating mind. Interestingly, I have gone into manic reading/blogging mode these past few weeks that the depression has worsened. Those two things keep me sane. They also keep my brain occupied away from harmful thoughts.
I began to feel depressed in adulthood after I moved back with my parents. Looking back, I was foolish to not have left after a few months. I was fine to re-group in a safe place, but my independent and curious nature morphs into that of a caged animal if I can’t support myself and if I’m forced to stay in one place for too long. I wasn’t inspired by the city because I had outgrown it. Even the way 90% of the people there spoke and thought was rubbing my metaphorical nerves raw. I would look so hard for jobs every day to give a bit more meaning to my life and then I would need to sleep because I felt so hopeless and trapped in being poor AND stuck at my parents’ home. I couldn’t even go downstairs to make lunch without some sort of interrogation or challenge about what I was eating, doing, thinking, etc.. They basically thought they were my police.
I had no money to go write at coffee shops any longer, and my drive to write lessened because of the poor setting at home. My friends who had traveled or who were traveling became my idols. I had always wanted to be a traveler, and knew it would happen one day. But that “one day” became my “now.” I wasn’t willing to wait any longer. My will to stay alive was dwindling, but that glistening hope of journeying out into the unknown kept me from feeling suicidal. In fact, I was very afraid of death. To die before I was able to leave my home town became my greatest fear. And then I was finally able to leave Ontario for a resort job in Alberta, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
When I first arrived in the Rockies, my depression lifted. If for nothing else, that alone was worth coming out here for. That surge of energy and hope was what I had craved to have for months. My first day there, I put on my hiking boots and climbed down the big hill to explore around the valley. I could have died happy that day, I’m telling you, but all I could think of at that moment was living. I had never felt so free and refreshed in all of my life. That feeling I had sitting on that cliff singing and overlooking the river was one of the best I had ever experienced. My writing flourished and I even completed a short story.
But…. I was working at a resort hotel. I had to begin dealing with people every day – aside from my days off. Anxiety from my job and just trying to fit in with my coworkers led to the rebirth of my depression. And this time, it came to me in another form. I had never felt so tired in my life – not even at my home in Ontario. I just hadn’t realized that the depression could follow me and then worsen in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I would come home from work and sleep for two hours, wake up to eat, and then go back to bed. The writing stopped and I just needed to sleep away the hurt and dread that I felt from the past and from the present. Yet, as contradictory as this might sound, I still felt better in some ways. I was my own person and that is a basic necessity to my survival. As long as I could have freedom to do what I needed or wanted to do, that kept me going.
At work and often in the staff cafe, it was that familiar feeling that I had in high school where I just couldn’t connect with anyone there, or there was something about me that would scare a lot of guys into not talking normally with me. Unless they were drunk, of course. That led me to remember a time back in my teen years when I had felt depressed. I was an outcast in that small Christian church school for all of four years. I guess I was too quiet, too different, too nonconformist to their silly legalism.
Once I put the aluminum tab of my Coke can into my drink to see if I’d accidentally swallow it. Thinking it would make me choke, I wanted to see if someone really cared about me. I ended up finishing my drink without it coming into my mouth. Hm. Now that would have been interesting if it had.
It made me think… “Have I always had depression, but it just hid itself when certain points in life were busier/going better?”
I was definitely a very busy twenty-something. After high school, I went into a 4 year Science Lab Tech program with three co-op terms. I then got married, worked for two years following, and enrolled in a Hotel Management program. I had a boyfriend during my first college program, a husband for my second, and then a boyfriend after the separation, so I was more in that frustrated-love-hate-angry-upset state of mind for all but 1.5 years of my twenties. I didn’t have all that much time to feel depressed, nor did I get to experience being single and truly myself.
But setting out on my own, venturing out from the wing of Christian conservatism and living my own life to discover my dreams… that must be what uprooted all of those deep, dark feelings from my teens. The ones I hadn’t known how to deal with so I’d buried them unless my sister and I would angrily bring up the memories when things weren’t going well for one of us. Actually, we almost always go back to the patriarchal Pastor, the bullying kids, the mean girls, etc. to this day. Is that what really started it up? And then some subsequent bad decisions on my part just snowballed and worsened the depression later on?
I may never know why this happened. Maybe I don’t need to, because what matters is that I do feel depressed. And I need to fix it.
Have you or do you feel depressed?