Tag Archives: Depression

Depression, Suicide, and Robin Williams: Hopping on the Bandwagon

So earlier this week Robin Williams killed himself. That was a shock to most people. It was a shock to me. It made a lot of people think and talk about depression. It made me think. It made me want to say something, but I didn’t know what. I read this article in Slate today, and it opened me up. There was one idea that kept popping up in my head in a very inarticulated fashion. The article addresses it perfectly:

“There were a lot of comments on Twitter about how much Robin Williams was loved and what a shame that he didn’t know it. I didn’t know Robin Williams, but I bet he did know that he was loved. I know that I am loved. Maybe not on a Robin Williams scale, but I have friends and family who would do anything for me, and I absolutely know this. But there comes a point where love does not matter. When things are bad, I don’t care that people love me. All I can see is that I’m a burden, that everything I have ever done is wrong, and that these good people who love me are wrong as well. At my lowest, love cannot save me. Hope, prayers, daily affirmations—none of these can save me. Therapy and medicine are what matter, and those don’t always work either.”

My situation isn’t nearly as dramatic as that of many people with depression. I don’t feel, like the author of the Slate article, that I am a burden to those around me. I have felt similar to the author of this web comic that I never wanted to commit suicide, but sometimes in my life I’ve felt that it wouldn’t be the worst thing if I just got hit by a bus. I don’t want to scare or panic anyone close to me here. I promise I will never kill myself. If anything, I might just disappear one day the way my uncle did. Although I will be kind enough to leave a note. Even then though, I recognize that these things aren’t good solutions to any problem. They’re just not reasonable. Besides, I’d rather keep my family and friends happy.

The thing is though, when you’re depressed or otherwise mentally ill, these things aren’t good enough arguments. I know people love me, even when my brain is fucked up and doesn’t really understand it. I love them too, and I’d never want to hurt them. But sometimes life is just so damn frustrating, and you just want it to be over. Even remembering the joy and love and happiness doesn’t help because you know the problems will be back and life will be shitty again. In the end, suicide isn’t actually about the emotions. It’s a perfectly rational, logical conclusion to a disappointing life. Pain will never end, so why not just end it?

Now, I’ve only become aware of my own dealings with depression within the last year. I don’t know if it’s a thing I’ll have to deal with forever or just temporary for me. I do know a lot of people for whom this is a constant, daily issue. And what I really want to say, to them, to everyone else, and mostly to myself is this: I understand the despair. I understand the desire to be done. I understand the rationality of the decision. And most of all I understand that it’s all bullshit.

A trend in the past few days is the phrase, “Depression lies.” I don’t know about that. I don’t know that life isn’t pointless and frustrating and sometimes awful. I do know that life is important. I know that a life doesn’t belong to just one person. Every action you take has consequences. Suicide is not about you, or it shouldn’t be. You might think you’re a burden on others. You might think they’ll be better of without you. You might be tired of putting up with the drudge that is life. But it doesn’t matter. Because you’re life doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the people around you, the people who care about you, and ending it WILL put a burden on them. So this is what I have to say: if you are considering suicide call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline here 1-800-273-8255 (US only I’m afraid, but it has counterparts all over the world.) Then, call the people who own your life and ask them first if you’re allowed to end it. I guarantee they won’t be cool with it.

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Shhhh, Excuses and A Poem

It’s been quite a while since I last posted. I’d like to do more, but for now I’m not sure if that will happen. For the first time in my life I’ve been dealing with real, serious depression. It’s hard to understand and harder still to explain. The description I’ve found which best fits my experience is on Cracked.com “5 Facts Everyone Gets Wrong About Depression”, and I’ve also written before a little about depression on this blog. Anyway, that’s the excuse I’ve had for not writing more. For now I don’t want to write any more about it. Possibly I will later but not now. Now I just want to give an update, and because you deserve more than just a short little paragraph, here’s a poem:

Shhhh

I’ve heard rumor of a room
so silent,
you can hear electricity hum
through your own nervous system.

There the heart beats loud enough
to wake the damned,
and blood rushes through your veins
with all the gentle whisper of a freight train.

Visitors are not allowed
to remain in the room longer
than 45 minutes,
for fear they will go mad.

What secrets could we divine,
if only we had the patience to listen?

What Kind of Author Do I Want to Be?

Recently, I was reading articles and thinking deep thoughts in an ill-advised attempt to avoid doing any actual work. These thoughts turned to what I want out of life, and inevitably how far away I am from that point. I had just read through an interview with my favorite author and fell into the evil practice of comparing my own work and life with his. This made me feel . . . bad.

Fire Bad

Not Frankenstein bad. Just like a piece of shit.

Of course, I want to be like my favorite authors. They are the ones who made me want to be an author in the first place. It would be ridiculous to not want to be like them, or to write like them. And to expect to not compare myself to them is also ludicrous, even if it is unhealthy. However, I decided to put this soul crushing activity to good use. I thought about why I like certain authors and how my own writing is different from theirs. Then, I thought about what I could do to make my work more like theirs. Not a bad activity, and I got some useful thoughts out of it.

After a while I couldn’t avoid at least pretending to be productive, so I started typing up part of a manuscript I’d already written. (I do my first drafts by hand for reasons. It works well for me, also for reasons.) As I was typing and making some edits I kept thinking about what I could do to make this story more like those of the authors I love. After trying a few things, I hit on a simple technique that also happened to solve a problem I’ve been worried about with that particular story.

As I worked through the edits I had in mind though, I realized that to change the style of the story would require A LOT of work. And I wasn’t in the mood to do work. I decided to put off the big edits and just work on little stuff and getting the story typed. It’s been a while since I’ve worked with this particular story. As a matter of fact, I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately and haven’t worked a lot on any particular story. Therefore, I had forgotten a lot of the minutiae in this one that really makes the story feel unique and fun. While I typed and read over this story and the minutiae and got reacquainted with its particular flavor, I realized something: It’s a good story. It’s good just the way it is. And I can be proud of writing it. The thing is, if I tried to change it all to fit another author’s particular style, it would lose all that. Or at least most of it. And I don’t need that.

The funny thing is, one of the big reasons I’ve been in a slump lately is I feel like I haven’t had as much opportunity as I’d like to just work on something for myself. But in trying to change my story I would be just perpetuating that problem. I’d be doing it for someone else, who didn’t even ask to be emulated and probably doesn’t want to be.

This realization led to another; I have eightyish more years of life (barring too much life happening to me) to write different stuff. One of the things that worries me is getting typecast as an author. I don’t want to be introduced as a “fantasy author” or “literary author” or anything. I want to write what I like, which is a bit of everything. But the answer to that problem is to just write what I want and not worry if it’s like someone else’s stuff or if anyone else with love it like I do. If I write something good, something that I like, it’ll find a home somewhere. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Depression and Writing

I don’t know what it’s like to be normal. That’s not to say I’m not normal (although the case could be made), but I’m not sure what normal is. In speaking specifically on the subject of depression, I have periods of my life (usually lasting anywhere from 1-3 weeks) when I get very very depressed. I don’t think I suffer from clinical depression, which my wife does and it sucks. I think my depression is the normal kind, but like I said-I don’t know. Anywho…

“Blah blah blah,” you say, “Chris is depressed. Cry me a river. What does this have to do with writing or books or anything?” To which I respond, “Let me get there Grumpypants!”

When I get depressed it usually has something to do with writing. Either I’m not writing enough, or I’m getting rejected, or I feel like my writing is bad and I should just give up. Some of these things cause the depression, some just extend it. The point is though, the only way I know how to get past it is to write more. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. I tried writing more in the last two days. I’ve got a story in my head that I think will be good once it’s down on paper. I tried writing that. It didn’t help.

In fact, not only did it not help; it made me feel worse. The story, which I know is a good one, wasn’t working, and working on it when it wasn’t working made me feel like I was never going to be able to get anything done. I almost contemplated giving up the whole writing thing and taking a job as a security guard and working my way through the ranks until someday I could make a $50,000 salary and buy a Smart car. It’s not a bad life, not really.

Last night, a sentence came into my head. It’s a fun sentence. Not perfect, not fantastic, but fun. I wrote it down. Then I wrote more sentences down, and before you know it they started to make a story. I wrote out a few pages, then I felt sleepy so I went to bed. But now I’m feeling less depressed. Writing is a strange demon that way.

I don’t have much of a point with this post. It’s really more of a “This is what’s been happening in my life.” than, “I know what I’m talking about.” I wonder though if other writers feel the same way. Do they worry about their writing the same way I do, or is it just a thing they do? In other words, Am I normal? I think I am, but then again I don’t know what the hell that words means anyway.

Because I wrote things and want you to read them because I feel really drained and need somebody to read what I wrote and tell me it’s good.

WARNING: Continuing with the theme created by the title here, this post will feature run-on sentences. English teachers, you may wish to avert your eyes.

So here’s the thing, I go through periods of depression in my life, much like all the other people ever. Usually, there is some catalyst which makes me feel like my life is going nowhere and then I get into a funk where I don’t do anything thereby making this feeling completely accurate. After a week or two of moping around I get back to work for some reason, and I write things. I try to work hard on my novel, which sometimes works out. Today I wrote about 400 words, then I wrote an email to my wife with the title of this post as the subject line and sent her what I wrote. Sometimes that’s what happens. Some days I write thousands of words. Literally. More than double one thousand. Those are really good days. Today isn’t one of them. Not that I feel bad. 400 words is 400 times better than no words,(Technically speaking 0x400=0, but this is more of a principle thing.), so I feel pretty good about that.

Today though, after 400 words I feel completely exhausted, which is weird. It’s possible my strange work schedule and daylight savings have something to do with that as well, but I’m going to blame it on the writing. It’s hard to write without any guarantee of reward. It’s hard to put in the effort while other things in life aren’t going exactly as you want them. Hell, life’s just hard. Sometimes, you just need a pick-me-up. So today, I’m putting something online I wrote in a notebook the other night while I was trying to sleep but couldn’t. It started with the first two sentences, then I didn’t know what to do, so I drew a picture and that inspired me to write something, then that inspired me to read some Neil Gaiman, so I downloaded an e-book of Coraline from my local library and read half of it before falling asleep and having strange dreams that only scared me after I woke up. More on that later. For now, here’s a picture and a thing.

When I say, 'drew a picture', I don't mean to suggest I am in any way talented.

When I say, ‘drew a picture’, I don’t mean to suggest I am in any way talented.

Brockway stumbled in the early morning darkness. That stone shouldn’t have been there. He looked behind him again, but saw only black. That wasn’t right either. The Bakers’ house should have been lit up even at this hour. They always had parties stretching through the night since the old woman discovered that cache of Spirits. But it wasn’t there. Nothing was, not even darkness. It was just…empty.

Turning back, Brockway started to run. He didn’t build speed gradually, as during his evening workout. He went from shambling to sprinting in the blink of an eye. It was pointless, he told himself. He knew the Ancients would take him when they wanted, no matter where he was or how fast he ran, but the fear had hold of him. He couldn’t help his actions any more than they would save his life. So he ran.

He knew these streets as well as anyone alive or dead. He knew them better than he knew his own mother. Yet today they didn’t obey his knowledge. He turned familiar corners into uncharted territory. Stones and walls rose up from the ground to greet his erratic feet. Houses were gone, or bigger, or where they shouldn’t be.

Nothing stirred in the village. The sun refused to rise. The nothing behind him edged closer and closer. A faint laugh rose in the nothing, growing louder until it consumed his brain. As the nothing reached him, Brockway realized the laughter was his own.