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