Cover Photo: On Depression, and Light by Anne Thorp

On Depression, and Light

When the end of the tunnel isn't the end, what then?

Two years ago I thought not shaving my underarms was a statement of unbridled feminism. 

A year ago I realized it was depression.

A week ago I didn't want to shave.

Sometimes, often even, I romanticize depression, in others and in myself. We are the awakened, I imagine, or at least, we are the languishing, beautifully ill, demanding attention and pity. 

It's not true. Depression is a grotesquerie. Romanticizing it, I realize belatedly, is a way of coping. A way to rationalize or fictionalize  a different reality--create a rose-tinted fantasy. One where it doesn't feel like I'm getting in a fistfight with my own brain with every neuron that fires. One where I don't have to change, and can instead dissolve into tears or lie despondent in bed, and be pitied, instead of just unproductive.

Two weeks ago, I believed I was no longer depressed. Now, I'm not so sure. Two weeks ago I was sleeping soundly at midnight, and now I'm cramming  incredibly stale potato chips in my mouth in between writing about my feelings. It's better than not writing at all. This is less an essay and more a diary entry, a meandering stream-of-consciousness.

I have been reassured many times that darkness does not and will not last forever. Other people's words. It's true, except for when it's not, and when it's not, life looks like a long gray line of chores. Social chores, chores that masquerade as once-enjoyed hobbies, academic chores. 

Often, though, more often now than for years before, I'm functional. I'm getting A's and B's in schoolwork. I'm turning in schoolwork, period. 

Here is my advice to myself. Here is how I am getting through. 

One: screw not being materialistic. I want to keep going because I want a longboard, and a really expensive, beautiful dress by Mak Tumang, maybe at the same time.  I want my room to be beautiful and to smell nice. I want makeup that looks good and feels good, and I want to have the energy to wear it. 

Two: Remember my goals. I can't ever let myself think of them as chores, as a laundry list, because as soon as I do, I hate them. I must continually remind myself that the path I have chosen has been chosen because it will always be renewing itself, fresh and exciting. Minute-to-minute, I must tell myself this. School is not a chore. I cannot treat it like a chore, because I cannot hate it. 

Three: Remember it is more important to be kind than it is to be nice. I must stop dulling my edges with niceties and muddling my conversations with qualifiers. I don't need them. If people dislike me (and most don't: that's a lie in my head propagated by long habit) then it's not my problem, and it's probably even less my fault. 

Four: I am stronger than I think I am. Crying is not a weakness, and an emotional heart is not to be despised. I have ripped my way through powerful depression, and come out on the other side. I have gone to fight my own self into order with nothing but broken nails and watery eyes, and won. Now, I have more than bare hands, and I can keep winning, every day. That doesn't make it easy. But I can do it. 

Light is not always there. The sun is not out every day, even in sunny California. But that's not a reason to quit, and I am determined to not let it be ever again. 

 


22. Design student with insomnia and scattered thoughts.