Depression or Fighting Conformity?

Jernej Gartner
Image by Jernej Gartner via Photobucket

“I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.” – Rita Mae Brown

In 2006, at the age of 33, I was diagnosed with clinical depression.  I have been taking an anti-depressant (SSRI) since then and it has helped me to be more functional in life. 

Or has it?

It’s been almost 10 years since my first diagnosis and although the anti-depressants have helped reduce my suicidal tendencies, I have not been functioning well lately.  Actually, I was doing okay until 2012, the year my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  She died 3 months later in August.  I was barely hanging on, but was able to slowly continue on with my life, thanks to friends and family.  But, perhaps dealing with their own grief, my aunt (my mother’s sister) and my cousin stopped speaking to me and my sister.  The next year, one “friend” stopped speaking to me altogether.  He relayed his hurt feelings through my best friend at the time, never giving me the chance to make it right.  And then in 2014, my “best friend” dumped me and left me stranded, never speaking to me again (except for threats).  No forgiveness.  No benefit of the doubt.  The end.

This experience of loss has left me feeling jaded, disillusioned, disposable, and absolutely disgusted with people.  I’ve always been leery of (American) society, but I tried to get over myself and live my life.  But the older I get, the more bullshit I see with the things we are taught.  I have simply been brainwashed for the past 42 years and I’m angry about that.  I’ve always felt this unease, like something’s not right, since my early twenties.  But I (and everyone else) just chalked it up to being a young adult learning the rules of society.  However, now that I look back and react to the expectations put on me by other people, I had and have every right to be angry.

I have a constant feeling that the life I am living is not natural.  I can feel it. But now I feel trapped.

This was done in jest - sort of.
This was done in jest. Sort of.

 

I came across an article by Martijn Schirp, co-founder of the website, High Existence, titled “Turning the Problem Around Mental Health in a Sick Society”.  It talks about the over-diagnosis of mental illness, when a person can’t conform to the society in which they live.  Is it mental illness or simply trying to cope with the bullshit?

A quote from the article [emphasis by the author]:

“Because what is a sick society? It is a society where the norm is more important than the people it should protect. It is a place where what is considered normal is decided by corporations that see people as means, not as ends. It is a place that always externalizes the problem. It’s never the system, the schools, the economic system or the structure of government. It’s you. You aren’t a symptom, you are the cause. But as we have seen, this is just one perspective on the situation.”

 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to work 40+ hours a week,  with climbing the corporate ladder, or being perfectly fine with life ruled by money, profit margins, and “success” .  But if that’s not how you choose to define your life, why is that seen as defective?  What other options are there besides the “school-work-die-in-debt” paradigm?

rat race photo: Rat Race rat-race.gif
Gif via Photobucket

So what is it that I want to do?  Well, here’s what I don’t want to do:

“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”  – Lloyd Dobler, from the movie, Say Anything

 

What I want to do is simplify my life, while I still have one.  I am currently purging useless shit and it’ll take awhile  – I’ve got a lot of shit to get rid of. Hopefully, as I get rid of the bullcrap (which includes not just objects, but also obligations, extreme negativity, unnecessary stress, etc.) I can focus more on my living environment, including my home, which is my sanctuary.  I am not a person that does well with stress, especially on top of dealing with depression. And close friendships?  Fine, if it happens.  If not?  Oh well. 

In short, this year I need to focus on my health and not just my physical health, but also my mental health.  Despite the stigma around mental illness (which is awful) I need to own my feelings and deal with them.  Writing this blog post is one way to do it.  If it makes people uncomfortable or annoyed then again, oh well.  If writing helps my suicidal thoughts to subside, I’m going to do it.  I may feel like dying, but I’m not ready to go yet.

GSF - depress.face
I just have to remember that a bad day is not forever.

 

Another website that I highly recommend is Mad In America.  There is a more in-depth article about mental illness and conformity titled, “Why Anti-Authoritarians Are Diagnosed As Mentally Ill”, by Bruce Levine, PhD.  This article goes more into the science behind mental illness and the results of those affected, trying to be “normal”.

Remember, you do not have to suffer alone.  You don’t have to hide your illness to make others feel comfortable.  If they’re “tired” of “dealing” with the existence of people affected with this disease, they can fuck right off.  If you’re a sufferer, please know that you have an ally in me.  No matter what people say, you have value as a human being.  There has never, and never will be, anyone like you.  Love yourself.  Own your individuality.

Do you or someone you know struggle with mental illness?  What methods do you use to cope?

Love & Shimmies,

Dasia Denise

happy_face_www
Image via Photobucket

Dealing With Clinical Depression & Grief

This photo was taken in November 2012 - 3 months after my Mom died
This photo was taken in November 2012 – 3 months after my Mom died

 

As you can see I haven’t written a blog post in the past 2 weeks.  I have clinical depression and it got really bad – worse than it has been for a long time.  A lot of people think goths wear black because we’re depressed.  This is not true, of course.  For me, it’s the complete opposite.  When my depression hits hard, I put absolutely no effort into my appearance – no makeup, sloppy clothes, lethargy and a feeling of emptiness.  I shower and somewhat do my hair and that alone takes effort.

 

Looking and feeling terrible
Looking and feeling terrible

 

So, yeah.  I’m putting it out there in the blogosphere: I struggle with clinical depression.  And on top of this, I’m still in grief.

On August 15, 2012 my sweet mother passed away from pancreatic cancer.  I’m still devastated.  I’ve been in tears all week now.  I need an emotional break, but since I don’t have vacation time right now it’s not doable.  Before the 20th century, it used to be common to mourn for the dead for however long it took.  It’s a shame that we are not allowed to properly grieve anymore.  We’re told to just “get over it already”.  Everything’s too fast, too superficial, and there seems to be no breathing room.  This can take a huge toll on the mind, body and spirit.

 

Unidentified woman, mourning her husband, a soldier killed during the US Civil War, 19th century. (Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)
Unidentified woman, mourning her husband, a soldier killed during the US Civil War – 19th century. (Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

 

Are you struggling with a mental illness?  Here are things that I try to do to help control my depression.  Keep in mind, that while it’s not needed, I do take medication.  For me, it has helped tremendously.  These are not some “happy pills” that people smugly disparage.  For me, it’s the difference between feeling normal and being close to suicide.

 

1.  Talk it out with your “go to” people.  These are the people who you feel comfortable talking to and who won’t judge you.  For me, it’s my sister and my best friend.  These could be people also dealing with depression and/or who love you know matter what.  Not everyone can (or should) pour their guts out on Facebook, but for me it has helped tremendously.  I’m lucky that I have people to comfort me when I feel confused, sad, and angry.

2.  Seek professional help.  There is absolutely no shame in getting the help that you need.  Talking to someone who is not biased in any way can do wonders.  If you have a therapist and you’re not happy with them, for whatever reason, it is your prerogative to find someone who you feel comfortable talking to.  Keep trying until there’s a good fit between you and your therapist.

3.  Cut out the things that make you unhappy.  Focus on the things that do make you happy.  This is easier said than done, but it’s worth it to try.  For example, I hate watching the news.  Not only is the news in the US completely biased, there’s only so many sad stories I can take.  And no, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.  When 9/11 hit and the tsunami and nuclear disaster hit in Fukushima, Japan I knew about it.  You can control the news stories you watch, especially with the Internet.

4.  Whatever you do, remember that this will pass.  This is the hardest thing to do for me.  These past 2 weeks felt like it would never end.  But alas, it has passed and I’m ready to move on.

 

When I’m in a dark mindset, there are a few things that help ease my pain.  Here are the things that make me happy:

 

1.  Listening to cathartic music.  For me it’s usually heavy metal (particularly doom metal) and old school rap (pre-2000s).  Many people think that this type of music adds to my depression.  I can see why they would think that, but believe it or not, I find this music cathartic.  Since I can’t lash out against this world, I’ll listen to people who can.  This really helps me when I’m at work, trying to release the sadness.

 

Mike Pike, frontman and founder of High On Fire (Image source)
Mike Pike, frontman and founder of metal band, High On Fire (photo via Photobucket)
'90s rap group, Public Enemy (photo via Photobucket)
’90s rap group, Public Enemy (photo via Photobucket)

2.  Belly dancing.  It is virtually impossible to stay sad and angry around massive amounts of glitter, sequins, beautiful dancers, and hip-shaking music.  Believe me, I’ve walked into many a class in a pissed off mood.  It never lasts long and I’m so happy that it doesn’t.

 

Frowns turn to all smiles! Me on stage with Raquettes Samia, UDM 2012.
Frowns turn to all smiles! Me on stage with Raquettes Samia, UDM 2013. (Photo courtesy of Toscana Photography)

 

3.  Watching drag queens.  More bling, more makeup, more artistry.  My type of scene!  Here’s a video of some runway looks from Season 5 of Logo TV’s Rupaul’s Drag Race:

 

 

4.  Watching cute, furry animals.  While I like looking at non-furry animals, as well (especially elephants) there’s nothing more squee-worthy than baby animals.  Here’s a clip from Animal Planet’s Too Cute (yes, this is an actual TV show).  Prepare to die from cuteness overload:

 

 

5.  Working on my blog.  Some people blog as a business, while others blog for personal reasons.  I’m in the latter category.  Blogging for me is like writing a public journal.  I get to write out my feelings and post photos that make me happy.  I’m also able to spread my message and connect with others who may struggle with depression.  If I can help just one person, then it’s all worth it.

 

You are not alone. Me with my sweet sister, J.
You are not alone. Me with my sweet sister, J.

 

How do you deal with depression?  Feel free to share in the comments.

 

Love & Shimmies,

Dasia Denise