I was depressed in 2019 after ending a friendship. It just wasn’t working for me with my best friend at the time, Carlos Flores. There were many reasons to leave the friendship, and just as many reasons to want to stay in it.
What I loved about Carlos was his ability to be himself and have strong opinions about things that he cared about, and that sometimes ONLY he cared about. For instance, despite growing up a Mexican Catholic in Las Vegas with very traditional parents, he LOVED Korean/Japanese theatrical metal.
Carlos had a strong sense of who he was, and I loved that about him.
The other major thing was how hard we’d laugh together and how completely we understood each other’s sense of humor. We could say literally ANYTHING to each other and both know that we’re playing. And we’d just laugh ‘til it hurt. Man, those were some great times.
Then it started. First we’d bicker. Then we’d hang out less. Finally, I cut the cord.
Invariably, I found myself growing apart from my best bud.
Though it was always fun hanging out with Carlos, I realized that he wasn’t going anywhere, and I didn’t want to join him. After EDC Las Vegas in 2018, we didn’t speak for a month.
He texted me after we hadn’t hung out or even texted for the entire month, but by that point, I had no interest in hanging out with him. We were growing apart, and that’s a sad fact of life for many people, including me.
Anyway, to get to the topic of this post, I learned how to write about depression by living through it. After breaking off my friendship with Carlos, who I’d known for over a decade at that point, I fell into a deep depression. On the outside things looked fine… I was still hitting the gym 5 days a week, working, and attending UNLV. But on the inside, things were grey. I wasn’t laughing like I used to. I wasn’t excited about anything. That’s when I found out…
Depression is grey. And flat.
Nothing matters when you’re depressed. Nobody can talk you out of it or show you a different way to view things. You just feel blank. Or like a shell of yourself. You’re disconnected from the things that used to make you happy, and even from other people.
Despite the disconnection, you feel some deep sadness welling up from inside. I knew I reached the turning point in my depression when I arrived at the gym parking garage at UNLV feeling very heavy, parked my car, and finally cried like a baby. I openly sobbed in my car for 20 minutes thinking about the good times with Carlos, all the while knowing that we were on two different paths that would never intersect again.
It felt so good to finally get it out.
I started piecing my life back together after that.
I did group therapy for college kids. It was a 10 week program, and it felt good to be honest about where I was at. You know, I’ve consistently found that you feel better once you “let it out”. Plus, there’s something about being seen and heard expressing your deepest emotions that heals them, in my opinion even better than meditation. But of course you can do both, and I do.
And here’s another clue for healing depression. Think about what you’re de-pressing, what you’re “pressing down” as the physician Dr. Gabor Mate would say.
In other words, what are you suppressing and repressing? It takes a lot of emotional energy to keep these things from surfacing, energy that could go towards happiness if it wasn’t already in charge of keeping unwanted feelings from coming into view…
So… I know how to write about depression. I’ve lived through it many times, luckily each time shorter than the previous one due to the work I’ve done on my backlog of unprocessed emotions. Here’s some more…
One time, I got cheated on.
It was one of the worst experiences of my life and I hope I never have to go through it again. But it did teach me something unique about depression…
Part of depression is feeling worthless.
Personally, I feel like this is often overlooked. When I hear people talk about depression, they usually confine it to sadness and maybe a little childhood trauma. “I’m depressed because my mom/dad/brother/sister did (xyz bad thing) to me.”
I think that’s totally valid, but if we want to heal depression, we need to get a more complete picture than simply sadness and the pain of early trauma.
When I was cheated on, every insecurity I had (and a hundred others that I didn’t know I had) came rushing to the surface. It took me 6 months to get back to 80% of my baseline. I’m writing this 11 months later and I can say the last 3 have been amazing. Getting cheated on taught me to be less attached, while also freeing me to be more loving. Which is another lesson – life only gives you what you can handle.
But it’s hard if not impossible to see that in the middle of depression.
If you want to write about depression,
it would be good if you had first-hand experience with it. Because I know I don’t want to read a clinical paper on depression. I want some signs of humanity, like sharing your story, or talking about what you learned, or sharing an unpopular opinion that you worked hard to form by solid experience.
Another thing that added to my depression was living in the same place for too long. At age 25, I’d done everything Vegas had to offer, many times over. It was only after I moved away from my hometown that I saw it for what it was. Namely, the thing causing me to feel “in a rut.”
Arriving and becoming a copywriter in Austin, TX, it only took a few months for me to fall in love with the city and the amazing people. Everyone’s so friendly! And making new, likeminded friends helped my mental health.
Getting out of a rut really helps, so try breaking up your routine. This may be a little harder when you’re younger though. In fact…
The very first time I was depressed was as a teen.
When I was 12, I already had suicidal thoughts creep into my mind at odd times. I never thought about a way to carry it out, but I noted these thoughts and hoped they would go away with time. Plus, I had hope. High school was only a year or two away, and I’d be more likely to get a girlfriend!
But I can say this – being depressed at such a young age tells me that those feelings were brewing for a long time. Today, I attribute my youngest depressive episode as a response to feeling neglected by my parents. It had very little to do with my life at school, where I had a big circle of friends and excelled in most subjects.
Here are some symptoms of depression that millions of Americans (statistically speaking, 16 million) can relate to: lack of motivation, feeling down, feeling worthless, feeling guilty about things that may or may not be your fault, poor sleep, sleep that isn’t refreshing, digestive troubles, menstrual troubles, and more.
How can you overcome depression – for good?
In my experience, journaling and meditation help process the emotions and sensations that congeal into depression. Don’t worry about making sense or having perfect grammar and spelling. Journaling is best used to get it all out and onto paper.
Depression feels like you’re a shell of yourself. The spark in your eye has all but died. You feel disconnected from others and from reality itself. You feel disconnected from yourself worst of all. Processing the depressed feelings can help you remedy these symptoms…
As can discovering a sense of purpose in life. My depression really lost its grip on me when I realized I wanted to be a copywriter. Now, every day that I work towards my dream is a good day. Without a goal, expect to feel lousy.
And if you can’t find your goal or purpose, start by creating a few healthy habits. That’ll boost your confidence and personal power, making it easier to take a risk on yourself in the future.
Symptoms of Depression
According to the CDC, symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling sad or anxious often or all the time
- Not wanting to do activities that used to be fun
- Feeling irritable‚ easily frustrated‚ or restless
- Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Waking up too early or sleeping too much
- Eating more or less than usual or having no appetite
- Experiencing aches, pains, headaches, or stomach problems that do not improve with treatment
- Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
- Feeling tired‚ even after sleeping well
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
- Thinking about suicide or hurting yourself
So, when you write about depression, put yourself in the shoes of a depressed person. We’ve all felt these symptoms at some time or other. Summon your empathy, and write in a way that connects with a depressed person and helps them see a way out.
If my own experience shares any clues, healing depression is a long, slow process. So, inspire your readers with empathy and actionable insights so they can get back on track with their lives.
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