Since the world fell to the mercy of the COVID-19 virus, I have been plagued with a low-grade sense of dread, a feeling that I have become all too familiar with over the years. My life has been held hostage by depression for as long as I can remember. To make matters worse, my mind has been hijacked by depression’s mindset.
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Over the years, I have learned that each mental illness has its own language, an interior dialect that can dictate how far down the rabbit hole I go. For example, when my anxiety disorder is speaking the loudest, it does so after it incorrectly accesses the environment I am in. When my anxiety is high, it will tell me that no one likes me.
Of course, this conclusion can’t really be true, can it? In reality, there’s no evidence of that. Similarly, depressive talk is responsible for brewing a deep sense of sadness within me. While this is somewhat obvious when we think about depression, it’s how my mind gets there that’s important.
Depression’s mindset is born out of the chatter in our heads.
In short, I am held captive by depression when I am experiencing the absence of something that gives me meaning or that I hold dearly, like friends and family. When denied, I find it difficult to defend my rational self; the sorrow just becomes too much.
When this great brain invader speaks, my energy dwindles and I isolate myself. Pretty powerful, right? So powerful, in fact, that it takes me out. Normally, I am a person with high energy and loads of passion. But sadly, when the darkness settles over me, I am forced to retreat to my bedroom – mainly because of a few re-occurring lines bouncing around in my head.
So then, what are these few dominating sentences that form depression’s mindset? Since my biggest passion in life is the love I have for family and friends, I tend to ruminate on them when I am experiencing a depressive episode.
What gets me down or exacerbates my lows is constantly thinking about their absence. Moreover, I tend to get angry at the fact that few of those I care for reach out. Although I understand that this is not done to be malicious, it nonetheless makes my isolation all the more difficult.
I mean, what the hell are we so busy doing?
What fuels the flames of this anger is this line: how can people not want to reach out when they care for someone? Sure, you may think about them often but that does little for those who care for you. I’m reminded of the old saying: “Deeds, not words.” One-way relationships really cut and make you feel like you’re the only one trying.
Furthermore, my depressive voice only makes the dark even darker when I find myself saying “It’s silly for people to use the excuse that they are too busy to call, go for coffee or stop in. To me, there’s no greater feeling than when someone whom you love calls and takes the initiative.”
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Sadly, this rarely happens. When I am well, it still bothers me but I manage it well; when held captive by depression’s mindset, it makes me want to sever ties with everyone. After all, why should I be the only one making the effort? Truly, does being “too busy” really trump the company of someone you care for? I mean, what the hell are we so busy doing? Binge-watching Netflix, playing video games and constantly staring at our phones? In my mind’s eye, we aren’t busy so much as we just don’t “feel” like it.
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Equally sad, is that this “too busy” phenomenon has, at some point been normalized and for the life of me, I can’t figure out how we justify deprioritizing those who matter the most.
Finally, I remain hopeful that this unprecedented health crisis will help us to realign our priorities, to show us that we must make time for our loved ones – thereby cultivating our very real survival need for connection.
So, if you wish to quell your anxiety, fear and depression, put down that device, pause Netflix and whatever else you are doing, and just reach out. You never know, you just might save a life.
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