Some Ponderings About Depression

I know lately I’ve been focused on sharing my art work and the process behind what I do, but tonight my head is heavy with thought.  My ponderings are of a serious tone tonight.

There was a comment that one of my friends made today on Facebook about some guy who committed suicide… that the person was selfish for taking his own life and how he’s needlessly causing his family pain.  This struck a nerve with me.  I had mentioned in a previous post about having personal experience with depression.  I do understand how someone could see the situation in the way like my friend did.  All you see is someone who had shloads of potential and they cut their life short.  All you see are the people who are left behind grieving.  One, I would hope that people could give the deceased a little compassion without having to personally walk in their shoes… obviously they were in some sort of mental anguish to get to the point where dying seemed more preferable.  But two, I also know that some people have to experience something first hand before they can see from another perspective.  So another perspective I shall give…

First of all- was there ever a time where you were depressed?  I mean utter despair… a horrible break up, a huge betrayal from someone you know and trusted, someone close to you dying, or some other tragedy… not something that is really sad, but you can get over it in a few days… I mean something that upsets your very core and feels like it will never get better.  Now imagine having those feelings without any tragic event triggering it.  You’re just doing your normal thing and this deep sadness overwhelms you and your thoughts begin to circle around the hopelessness of any obstacles that life may bring.  Normally you’re pretty upbeat, but today you can’t stop thinking about all the suffering in the world and how it feels there is nothing that can be done to stop it.  Or you think of how you put your foot in your mouth sometime in the past and now are convinced that you pissed your friends off and how you really are an insensitive jerk of person anyway.  You may even try thinking positively and try to say to yourself that you don’t really “know” that people are unhappy with you and perhaps it’s just all in your head.  The unfortunate thing is that your brain isn’t operating logically at this time.

The brain is a storm of chemical reactions, synapses firing, and hormones giving messages.  What if that process was out of whack?  What if there was something happening inside of it preventing it from reasoning properly?  One, it would be a terrifying feeling… for your mind- the center of your consciousness- to not be working.   How horrifying to not be in control of your own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions?   This is what it can be like to have clinical depression.  Logic doesn’t work.  Whatever troubling thoughts you have, even if highly unlikely, seem like the absolute truth.  So if normally you could see where you have good things going in your life worth living for and that a bad day isn’t permanent, that isn’t necessarily the case when you’re experiencing depression.  And the mental pain really sucks!  Remember how I said it feels like a tragic event has happened without the event needing to take place?  So not only are all these askewed thoughts going through your head, you’re aslo feeling the worst sadness imaginable.   Believe me that there are times when death seems preferable.   There are times I’m convinced that friends hate me, or that I can never accomplish anything in life, or that life is so cruel and why should I bother trying.  On the flip side- there is someone I deeply love and am looking forward to spending more time with, I have a potential art career budding, and I am a creative silly person who loves to do things to make positive change in the world.  But if I were in a certain state of mind, my thoughts would convince me that there is no hope, it’s pointless to try to improve the world , or my special someone would be better off with someone else and deserves better than someone who is crazy… if I were suicidal, I could reason that he and other close friends would get over it if I wasn’t around anymore.  Now don’t worry- I’m NOT suicidal.  As much as I may be dipping into depression the past couple of days, I am not in that frame of mind.  But this is an example of a possible scenario.  Luckily I have coping mechanisms, therapy under my belt, some medicine in my system, and knowledge of what to do if my thoughts did turn that severe.  Normally I wouldn’t be too comfortable sharing such intimate personal details like this on a blog.  But the suicide discussion today made me realize that talking about such things may help with others understanding.  Especially when some off-base notions were being mentioned; a notion like the one I’m about to describe.

Another comment that was brought up in that conversation was how crappy people who commit suicide are to think they are in pain when there are people dying of cancer and such.  This is the stigma people with mental illnesses have had to endure for a long time.  This is PAINFUL condition.  No bones are broken, no tumors causing blinding sharp physical pain… but mental pain IS painful.  People brush off emotional pain or pain of the mind as not real.  Is it because they can’t hear the person’s inner thoughts or feel what they are feeling?  I’m not sure.  I guess awesome for them for never having to go through that… to be able to go for their goals and pursue their desires without their brain interfering or their self preservation instinct not functioning properly.   I guess what it comes down to is compassion.  If someone is hurting, why not believe them?  Why does it come down to a “scar contest” and who’s wounds are the most severe?  The thing about our minds is that no one experiences life the same.  The way we perceive and our thought processes are hidden from view.  Even the way we see the color “blue” is different and we’ll never know what a friend’s blue looks like without seeing it through their eyes; without processing it with their mind.

So remember that we all have these hidden worlds and some people’s worlds are on fire.  Instead of judging them or discounting their struggle, you could offer them some water.

Just a thought.

Adventures in Bus Riding

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So far my travels via bus have been fine.  Yes, public transport does lend to some interesting people watching, but so far so good.  Yesterday, was my first true glimpse of the colorful cast of characters that ride the CAPmetro.  While waiting at the bus stop, a young guy in his early to mid 20’s walks up with his bike.  Following him was an older fellow in his mid 60’s.  This old man “screamed” crazy-homeless with his muttering, ranting, slurred speech and his disheveled appearance.  He then became agitated and began shouting at the kid for leaning his bike against the fire hydrant.  At first, I thought there was going to be a confrontation, but then the two sat next to each other and started chatting… this pair seemed to know each other.  The younger one asked if I knew what time the #7 was to arrive.  I looked up the bus schedule on my phone, and after telling him that they had another 15 minutes or so, the older dude left for the convenient store.  That’s when the kid started talking to me.  He told me not to mind the old guy for he was “a 65 year old Hawaiian”.  So being a Hawaiian is what’s causing this old, crazy dude’s demeanor?  Very strange logic.  Then it was revealed the source of this awesome deductive reasoning…  the guy informed me that his Power Aide bottle was really filled with wine (white zinfandel from it’s pink appearance) and that he hopes his friend picks up a box o’ wine while at the store.  The old guy soon returned empty handed and the 101 had arrived.  “Rock on with that dude”, is what I thought as I boarded my bus and left the drunken duo to their day.

Later on I had another bus stop chat with a slightly hyper gentleman who was new to the area, was going to walk to the library, is there a library on Guadalupe?, and he was going to fix business signs for money, he needs to find the Groovy Lube, he talked with the dude earlier and may be able to clean the sign.  All of his information ran together into some sort of large sentence snake of doom.  In the same breath, just about the tail of the snake, he asked me what the Groovy Lube sign looked like.  So again I looked up shit on my fancy ass phone.  Then he went on about how their color scheme wasn’t “hippie” enough and other crap I started to tune out.  Perhaps I should stop engaging in conversations with people at the bus stop.  A the dude’s bus arrived to which he informed me that his bus would also get me to downtown.  This was true; there were a few buses that ran to my next transfer, including the one the man boarded.  I thanked him, but opted for the later one.

On the last part of my journey home, a kid in his late teens/early 20’s wearing headphones boarded.  He was listening to rap.  How did I know this?  Because he was singing/wording alone to his music audibly.  Not sure if you’ve been around someone who has done this… we outside people do not know what melodies are being played, just the awkward phrase or vocalization from a clueless headphones guy.   At first, he just muttered the lines of his mystery lyrics.  If you didn’t see the headphones, you might assume he was a bit mental and talking to the voices.  Then his rapping got louder.  Then he whipped out his drumsticks… YES, this dude had drumsticks!  And he was kind of chair dancing/ rocking back and forth (again, if you didn’t notice his head phones, this could have been another symptom of crazy).  So the only thing all of us passengers heard was:  ‘words, words, *CLICK*, words, *CLICK*’ as the kid was banging his sticks together and singing along in his own little world; a little world that was invading the personal space of the lady sitting right next to him.  Wow, did she have the patience of a saint to deal with this… not sure if I could.  Finally, the kid exited the bus, to which the lady chuckled and sighed at the ridiculousness of it all.

So what did I learn from this?

1- Perhaps I shouldn’t talk to every person who rides the bus.  Not that I haven’t had sane, pleasant people chat me up in transit, but yeah, being more discerning would help.

2- I may get a shit ton of blogging material while using public transportation, and this is not necessarily a bad thing.