How to Survive Depression

I have lots of practice dealing with depression, and I hope I can help you with what I’ve learned. When you’re depressed, not much appeals. Nothing sounds fun. Nothing seems worth doing. When that happens to me, I know I’m depressed. Losing interest in things you usually care about is a normal and typical symptom of depression. For many very lucky people, sadness passes in a day or so. For those of us whose sadness lasts weeks and expands into full depression, we need a plan. Deep depression can lead to suicide or suicide attempts. If you’re going to stay alive, you need tools to help you do so. Suicide happens when the pain you experience exceeds your ability to cope with it, so if you’re going to stay alive, your options are to lower the level of pain or increase your coping ability. This explanation is not original to me, so don’t credit me for it. I use it because it’s a clear and simple analysis of a messy state of mind…

I Can’t

Since my diagnosis, I haven’t been able to do much. I abandoned school in the middle of spring semester four out of four years. Springtime always makes the bipolar more intense and often unbearable. I couldn’t do laundry, go to class or parties, basically nothing but stay in my room and be upset. Sometimes I’d use the episode to make a painting, and god, those paintings born of episodes are the darkest ones I’ve made. None of them are on this site: I believe I burned them all one night in a manic episode. I thought it would be cleansing. It was just destructive. You get a lot of ideas when you’re manic, and most of them are terribly misguided…

Being Fat Sucks

Three years ago, I weighed 270 pounds and I was miserable. Now down to 155, I get terrified when I see fat people because I know I could go back there if I’m not careful.

Medicine for psychiatric conditions makes weight control very, very difficult. It’s another one of those things that’s not fair. On Seroquel, my first antipsychotic, I never felt full. Ever. I’d go to the school cafeteria and go back for seconds, thirds, dessert, and, of course, second dessert. My stomach would hurt badly, and still I didn’t feel full. It was like being hungry for two years. Eventually I leveled out on the Seroquel and could feel full again, but by then I’d put on a lot of weight. As a student at the time, exercise was not part of my routine. I was mostly in survival mode, just trying to keep my head above water…

Hallucinations

My favorite hallucination I’ve ever had was a flock of black angels flying over the highway. I leaned out my window to look as we drove under them. I was severely sleep deprived, manic, and on a medication that I hadn’t yet figured out was affecting me badly, so I didn’t know right away that it wasn’t real. Usually I can fact-check and try to reason through the situation if something comes up that doesn’t make sense. These angels felt very real to me. I got to watch them for about 45 seconds before they were gone, and because they disappeared, I could confirm that it had been a hallucination…

Suicide; The Perpetual Question Mark

The truly tempting thing about suicide is that it’s a solution to pretty much everything. Not a constructive solution or a solution other people want you to use, but still a solution. We can opt out. Once you realize you’re strong enough to end your own life, that knowledge will never go away. When you’re happy and engaged in life, that knowledge makes your life better because of the profound meaning there is to be found in the awareness of death and the empowerment of choosing to live. But when you’re feeling awful and you get to feeling awful enough that you think you’d do anything to change the way you feel, the knowledge that you could kill yourself becomes lethally dangerous…

Mindfulness For Beginners

Mindfulness practices originate from Buddhism, but they’ve become trendy in America recently. Ancient meditation techniques have been re-branded as Mindfulness. These techniques are designed to connect you with the present moment exactly as it exists right now. It’s the “Be Here Now” idea. There are lots of ways to achieve this state. You can pick an entry point by focusing on one thing, like an object or your breath, and really noticing everything you can about it. Once you’re in wonder at that one thing, you can expand your awareness to the other things around you. I like to expand until I can see my place in the universe and the universe’s place in endless existence. It’s a wonderful feeling. It feels sacred…