I have not suffered from depression (a chemical imbalance treatable using medication), but I have been depressed (meaning I have experienced the symptoms of depression due to external circumstances) several times in my life. We go way back, the black cloud and I. Far enough back that the past few times we’ve danced, my initial reaction has been one of impatience: I know it’s going to suck, and I know it’s going to suck for a really long time, and I’d like to get on with it so I can get back to my life.
Not really a wallower, you see. I have stuff to do, and depression gets in the way of all that. I lack the patience to be depressed.
The problem is that, because I am not suffering from depression, an antidepressant won’t help. I have tried them. They give me gory nightmares, cause visual and auditory hallucinations, and make me suicidal. Even St. John’s Wort messes me up, though to a lesser degree. Which means going to a therapist is not an option, because they don’t quite know how to deal with unmedicated depression. So I deal with the matter myself. Bootstrap myself out of it, so to speak.
Over the years, I’ve picked up some tricks to dealing with the darker moments. One is to binge on entertainment that reminds me of nothing I’m currently depressed about and also engages my brain enough to allow me to escape from my current situation. A tall order, best fulfilled by rereading books and rewatching shows because new books/shows can always slip a little dagger between my ribs when I am least expecting it. If I get brave and read a new book, I’m best served by reading two or three books at once, so I can switch in case the current book no longer suits my needs at any given moment.
Video games, provided they don’t remind me of the issue at hand, are another good tool. I am not a gamer in that I spend every free moment and every spare dollar on games, but I do have strong gamer tendencies. If I allow myself, I will get sucked into the games at the expense of work, food, sleep, and hygiene. Wait, maybe I am a gamer.
Music is by far the most useful antidepressant, though. I have been building a playlist on Spotify that I call Mommy’s Anti-maudlin Playlist, which is filled with songs that never fail to boost my mood. I may not be in a good mood after listening to them, but I’m at least not in quite so dark a mood – and some days, that is no small feat. Some songs have lost their punch over the years, and I’ve picked up new ones as I’ve navigated the slings and arrows of adult life. But even the ones that no longer give me that emotional boost still bring a smile to my face. And the transformative power of the more potent tunes is truly inspiring. I am more grateful to those songwriters and musicians than they could ever imagine.
Some people eat when they feel bad. I’m not one of those people; just the opposite, in fact. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my own brand of comfort food.