Editor’s Note: The following submission is from Ean Michael Short. Have an LGBTQ+ related experience or story to share? Having your article published on this site will automatically enrol you into a raffle to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Submit an article today via queerdeermedia.com.
I hope this article helps someone. That is it’s only purpose. If you read my last post, you’ll know that I don’t usually put all my cares and worries out there for everyone to see. If you meet me in person, you’ll probably think that I’m a fairly happy and optimistic person (because I am, inherently, although I do live with depression as well) and I like to keep it that way. I can be strong for all of us, but especially for myself.
As a sufferer, I long felt that my failure to overcome depression was itself a reason for it. It made me feel weak, tired, fatigued, lonely, desperate, and isolated. It demanded that I not allow myself simple pleasures for fear that they might come laced with pain or expose my vulnerabilities. It dictated my thoughts and actions, so much so that any time that I would begin to feel really happy it would loom overhead and remind me that I had no reason to be. It told me that I was a failure, because I couldn’t even succeed at beating it and it is only a figment of my imagination; how could I hope to overcome any of life’s other obstacles or find someone who could love and value me with all the skeletons in my closet and phantoms lurking around each corner?
It was only recently that I came to accept that I will never be entirely free of depression – and that’s okay! I’ve learned to treat it like a really bad roommate that is constantly leaving their things where they don’t belong, never cleans up, and uses and abuses your own property while offering nothing worthwhile but their share of the ‘rent’. Depression will always be there, lurking. You can, however, like with any bad roommate, make improvements. Even if you have to take the action yourself.
Now, I’m aware when my depression is attempting to take advantage of me. We have an open dialogue. It throws out a memory of trauma and I respond that I am already past that and would it please pick it up and put it back on the shelf where it belongs. It attempts to talk me out of going to the gym because I’m overweight and don’t ‘belong’ there and I remind it that I pay my dues, have the gear, made plans to go, and will not be sabotaged by a ghost of prior failures. It tells me not to make plans with loved ones because they might guess that it’s tagging along and that would bring them down and I tell it that they love us both but mostly would like to see me: happy.
You have to develop an internal monologue with it. Realizing, of course, that it’s not really a dialogue. All these thoughts are your own, but depression comes for a deeper part of your self – not a better one! Recognize it. When you do, you’ll find that you can list many more reasons to do well for yourself than depression can find reasons to hold you back.
But maybe depressions reasons, while less numerous, seem more meaningful? More hurtful? Of course, they do! No one knows what brings you shame, degradation, humiliation, embarrassment, despair, and loneliness better than yourself. Depression will always try to hit you where you are weakest. When it does, forgive it by forgiving yourself.
We have all made mistakes. We have all conducted ourselves badly at times. We’ve zigged when we should have zagged, we’ve run off at the mouth when we should have stayed silent, we’ve forged ahead when we should have stayed behind, and vice versa. We will always fail until we find a way to succeed. That is, they tell me, what success is: overcoming and learning from our failures. Depression plays the blame game like a truly sadistic Master. At any time, however, you can choose to withdraw your submission and re-negotiate your terms. Put that ‘boy’ in its own restraints.
People will tell you that the best way to combat depression is to do positive things for oneself, and to a certain extent that is true. I’d like to add a caveat: do the things you enjoy with someone else. Don’t just treat yourself to a midnight showing of Captain America: Civil War because you hate crowds. Take a friend to an early showing and enjoy their company as well as the reinforcement of the crowd that is also there to enjoy the same thing – see, you do fit in! Don’t just treat yourself to a dinner out or a fantastic home-cooked meal. Invite your family or a close personal friend to share it with you. Then, sometimes, do the things you enjoy by yourself that maybe you wouldn’t share – like a hot bubble bath or a really great haircut from that super-hot stylist you’ve been dying to ask out (oh, and do that too!).
Don’t allow fear of rejection to stop you from reaching out. You may not have found the place where you belong yet, but you do belong somewhere! There are people out there that are willing and ready to love and accept you no matter who you are or what you’ve done in your past. It’s now that matters. Don’t spend all of your time alone. You can retreat, sometimes, when you’re feeling anxious and not enjoying yourself. But each time you open up and enjoy an experience with another person you’ll be making that part of yourself stronger. It’s amazing how quickly it can grow!
No article is going to contain all of your answers. You already have them. Just learn to listen to them in your quiet moments and discern where they’re coming from. What comes from depression will only lead you further in. What comes from your other self will try to lead you out of it but you have to choose to follow and nurture it. Choose wisely. Stay strong (not hard). And don’t get discouraged if it seems to come slowly at first. You’re a work in progress and that’s how it should always be.