Here’s the thing. Depression is a bitch. A cold, heartless, merciless bitch with a capital ITCH. 

You can shut out all of the voices: friends, enemies, and internet strangers/trolls around you… but still the little depression gnargles remain. Whispering sweet little lies and half truths in your brain. They know exactly where those little cracks in your mighty self-worth wall are, and they erode at them like tiny ants digging through compacted dirt. Unfortunately, they get in and play ‘merry with your thoughts. They trick you into thinking terrible thoughts about yourself. Terrible thoughts about those around you. Lots of nasty things in general. And the stupid part about all of that is that your brain starts to believe it.

It sucks… and that’s just putting it nicely.

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If it sucks so much, why am I talking about it? It’s a sad, negative topic… aren’t I always saying “Stay Positive and Be Awesome?” Isn’t that counter-intuitive?

Well, I guess I should explain… so grab your favorite warm beverage and let’s chat. 

Depression affects more people around you than you think, and even more than lots of people want to admit to themselves. I’m no exception… not by a long shot.

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I’ve been fighting the depression gnargles for over than half my life… probably leaning more to the 2/3rds if I’m honest and realistic. I didn’t grow up in a troubled home. My family loved/loves me. And while my parents divorced when I was 10, looking back they tried to do the best for me that they could. I am grateful for them. I am grateful for a lot of things… and even though I am extremely grateful – I still do battle with those stupid depression gnargles.

Looking back, I realize now that my depression gnargles started right around the divorce. As dumb as it sounds, I remember all the big arguments between my ‘rents, and while I know better now, back in the day, I thought that it was my fault. Fast forward a few years to my teens and that was another can of self-doubt worms. A lot of those where the usual “I’m stupid.,” “I’m not popular.,”I’m not pretty like the other girls.,” etc… And a lot of those thoughts I didn’t let out in the open. I just kept them buried deep inside my head, and they stayed. Stewing. I was your stereotypical brainiac band nerd, with all her tomboyish, awkward glory. I was a brown-noser, know-it-all in some of my classes… and yet I had those stupid gnargles whispering things in my head like “You’re not good enough., “You’re worthless.,” and the kicker “You’re stupid.” I hid behind my brains and my sarcasm and when I wasn’t doing that I was acting goofy trying to make everyone laugh.

Growing up, mental health wasn’t a positive topic in the media and even some of my family thought that it was a sign of weakness. I thought that if I was “depressed,” I was broken. I turned away from the notion of seeking help or counseling. 

The stupid depression gnargles kept stirring the pot, silently, in the background. It didn’t help that puberty kept FUBAR’ing with my brain chemistry. Then when I’d get in trouble, or when other hormonal, teenage crap happened, those same quiet gnargles would creep up like ninjas and attack at full force.

Those voices started to whisper other things… nastier, more finite things… Things that we will talk about in another episode of Real Talk at a later time. Sorry. That subject needs its dedicated post, and right now I need a little bit longer to get my thoughts in order about it.

Okay so, teleport to college! Enter personal freedom and ridiculous amounts of stress. I never got rid of all of those tiny, swarming little gnargles but I did get better at compartmentalizing them… until everything went down the shitter. The dams in my mind broke and every stupid, self-doubting thought and lie played on repeat. It was a super dark time in my life. I finally ended up sticking it to my ego and went to a counselor… and then to a psychiatrist. It took a long time for me to figure everything out, enough, so that I could function like a normal human and get back to operational standards in my head.

…Then a few years later I got sick, and things got a little more complicated, but I have adapted and managed.

And here I stand. Still fighting the good fight, even if sometimes it feels like an uphill battle. I will continue to fight those frelling, stupid depression gnargles in my head because I AM WORTH IT… no matter how much they tell me otherwise.

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Brain chemistry is a very delicate balance, and depression is the result of chemical imbalance. It’s science, folks.

Depression affects people differently. Some it just makes them sad. Some feel as if they are constantly covered in a heavy, wet wool blanket. Some, like me, deal with lots of self-deprecating thoughts, etc… Depression is unique to each person.

There are several ways to help combat depression, but the first step is realizing this:

You are NOT alone.

Those stupid brain gnargles will try every trick in the book to make you think (and believe) that you are at fault, alone, and to blame… but it’s not true! Over 350 million people around the world… that’s about as much as the entire population of the USA and the UK COMBINED! That’s a lot of people.

One of the most amazing things I think about today is how mental health, and mental health awareness, is becoming more mainstream. It’s fading from the realm of taboo, thank the FSM. 

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Fight the good fight and understand that YOU are worth it.

There are several different ways to fight depression. Medicine to help physically correct the chemical imbalances, therapy (both one on one and group), CBT, meditation, etc…

After realizing that you are not alone, and there are others in the world, both in person and online, that are willing to help you comes the next step:

 Talk to someone about it.

Sure, it sounds a lot easier said than done, but as Bob Wiley says…  baby steps. The mere act of keeping it all bottled up inside, stewing and cycling around your thoughts, does more harm than good. Some prefer talking to someone they know, a close friend or family member while others like to talk to an impartial 3rd party who isn’t close to the situation. Talking is good, and it is important.

The act of physically speaking those poisonous thoughts aloud to someone else helps to lessen their chains. It can be painful to admit them, yet freeing afterward.

Don’t give up.

Finding the right combination of “depression fighting tools”  isn’t always easy. In fact, it isn’t easy. It can be tiring and relentless and at times you’ll want to give up, but is worth it – because YOU are worth it. Personally, it took a while for me to figure out what combination works for me and even now I have to tweak things and adjust my thoughts.

I wish curing depression were as simple as curing the common Cold, but it takes time. It has its ebbs and flows. Sometimes it is the size of an electron while other times it can be larger than an elephant. Things will get better. Even at your lowest lows, look forward to the little things that make you smile.

There will be times where it can be overbearing, and all you want to do is toss in the towel and give up. Those absolutely suck, and your mind will play as many evil tricks on you as you can. The best advice I can give for you in times like that is: Get out of the place where you are at and either go for a walk or talk to / hang out with someone who cares about you. It’s easier said than done, I understand, but it will help.

An old "emotional" picture that I took a few years ago.
An old “emotional” picture that I took a few years ago.

Take time for the things that bring you happiness.

Finding those bright glimmers of happiness amongst the darkness of depression is vital. Once you find it, hold on to it. If that means taking up a new hobby, going on a daily walk, or just trying to find the good in things, then do so. Even if it is just coloring some nerdy coloring book or practicing calm breathing.  I love the fact that adult coloring books are totally acceptable now! It makes me feel like a hipster but “I was coloring before it was cool…” hehe.

I severely dislike it when people say something to the effect of “the little things aren’t important.” It’s totally wrong in my book. The little things are what keep us sane. Anchored to humanity, and all that jazz. If it weren’t for the little things, we’d go moment to moment just waiting for the BIG things… which can be either good or bad. I don’t know about you, but when there’s a big BAD thing that shows up, I just want to regress into a child and make someone else deal with it. HAHAHAHA! It’s sad, I know, but true.

Little things, like the person ahead of you in line at Sterburkz buying your drink, is awesome. I try to be that person when I can afford it because I know how much random happiness it brings me. I also like surprising people with presents, especially when I know that they’re having a rough time of it.

Another thing that helps me come out of my little depression hidey-hole is music. I used to play piano all the time growing up when I was upset, and I guess that habit really hasn’t left me. With my RA / SLE starting to flair up more frequently, I can’t go all ham and play to my little heart’s content without warming up first, but you get the idea.

Find something that makes you happy. Find something that brings you joy. Find something that knocks those stupid depression gnargles out on their asses for a little while.

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Hopefully, this little (or not so little) post makes sense or helps out. I don’t know if most of this is stating the obvious or what-have-you but if it helps just one person, I’ll be happy. Do you have any tips to help pull you out when those stupid depression gnargles start knocking? Share them with us in the comments below!

Just keep fighting, dah’ling! You are ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT and even if I’ve never met you, spoke with you online, or passed you on the street – you are awesome, and I think you’re amazing. Try your best to stay positive, even when it’s sucky… because ya’ know what — one of these days it will be awesome, and it will be totally worth it. 

 Disclaimer: I am not a professional, and I am only speaking from personal experience. If you are dealing with depression, in any way, shape, or form, I highly suggest seeking out a professional to speak with. If you need assistance, you can always call the Crisis Hotline at 775-784-8090  

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