As you may know, depending on how many other places you
stalk me follow me, I am battling depression. In retrospect, I can’t really remember a time when I haven’t been depressed. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had periods of brightness but those were, if I’m honest about it, short temporary interglacials in an otherwise cold and barren life. And also again, don’t get me wrong: this isn’t a reflection of my circumstances (for the most part) or the people surrounding me (again, for the most part). My friends are immensely wonderful and I would hope that if they read this they wouldn’t feel that I was blaming them in any way. The darkness in my life isn’t due to them or due to anything they’ve done or not done.
But I think I’m getting off course.
In retrospect, I think I’ve been depressed most of my life, at least since high school, if not before. But I didn’t really make the connection and seek help until a year ago. Again, don’t get me wrong: my depression is nothing compared to that which many sufferers endure, and I don’t mean to diminish their experiences by talking about mine. But at the same time, I’d hope that they wouldn’t diminish my experiences because they’re not as extreme as theirs.
Look, let me start again.
I battle depression. Have had depression for years, decades maybe, but have only been fighting it for the past year. Before then, I didn’t realize I was depressed. I didn’t realize I had a problem. I thought this was just how I was. Some people were happy-go-lucky. I was sullen and prone to sadness. People are different, and so I reckoned this was just how I was different. For most of my life, the depression was just sort of… I dunno, mild? It was manageable, or at least I thought I was managing it.
Since 3/11 though, I sank deeper. Again, (why the fuck am I apologizing so much, I don’t really have anything to apologize for…), my experiences that month are nothing, absolutely nothing compared to what actual victims and their families endured — are still enduring. But it did effect me and whereas before then, if we imagine a neutral mood to be level 0 and that most people fluctuate around that, but that I’d always fluctuated around level -1, I started sinking lower and lower, and whereas before there had been moments of light and levity and sometimes even joy, there was only darkness and sadness.
If I woke up and didn’t spend several minutes crying before getting out of bed and forcing myself to get ready for work, it was a good day, even if I did end up hiding in the toilet a couple times a day at work to cry. A day when I only cried two or three times was a good day. I could tell how bad a day I’d have by the number of times I sadly said, “oohhh ;_;” before leaving for work.
I was never suicidal, which is a good thing. But during this entire period of darkness, there was absolutely no joy and I could imagine that some people, feeling as I did, may have contemplated ending it. I never did, and I have no good explanation for why. The way I sort of visualize it is like this: inside me was a deep terrible dark sadness. If I didn’t do something, that sadness would consume me. The only way to ward it off was to encase it in a stronger material. Just like if you want to contain an explosion, you surround it by strong, unbreakable material. So I surrounded my core of sadness with the strongest stuff I had — rage. A rage cage for my sadness core. To be sad and weepy in public was unacceptable but to be surly and unfriendly, while suboptimal, wasn’t so strange.
This usually worked rather well and did so for years. Every once in a while, the delicate balance would fail and the rage cage would undergo an inversion and become more sadness, and I’d hide in my apartment and cry all weekend while eating. But this worked mostly well for a while. Until it didn’t.
During this entire period, the only thing that really gave me strength to keep going and get up every day was — and this is going to make me sound like a fucking high school girl — was the music of AAA. I’d listen to all my AAA on shuffle all day every day and the only thing I looked forward to was a new single or a new album or a new music video. Somehow, when nothing else could, their music could lift me and make me feel something other than rage or sadness. This is part of why they’ll always hold a special place in my music collection and my heart. I really feel that, had I not had this one thing, this pop group with songs that made me feel good, to cling to… well I’d rather not think about how I might have ended up.
In the last year or so before I got help — the darkest period — this song always filled me with… I guess it was hope. Hope that somewhere up ahead, there was light at the end of the tunnel, even if I couldn’t see the light. It gave me faith to carry on. I’d listen to it on loop on my drive to work — it didn’t matter how dark things seemed, there was light somewhere. Carry on. That’s the feeling it always gave me. And that fucking key change always made me cry, but good tears, cathartic tears. And then I could carry on again for a little while.
Eventually, a year ago, things happened. Bad things. Mostly not my fault, but the depression did affect my judgment, so I didn’t act 100% appropriately. Upon telling people, a friend pointed out that he thought I was depressed and that I ought to see a doctor about it. I did, and the doctor agreed and I’ve been on meds ever since. The meds, they help. Sort of. Whereas before, my average mood had sunk to level -5, or something like that, and never popped above the surface, the meds help keep me level around level 0. So I don’t feel crippling sadness and so I don’t have to wrap it in a coating of utter rage. But similarly, I still don’t feel joy. Is it an improvement? Probably. Is it optimal? But it’s something.
I was originally going to title this blog post “AAA Saved My Life”, but it’s apparently ended up being more about the depression and less about AAA. Also I think that title would be a little over the top. Still, the music of AAA helped me survive a very dark time in my life, and I wanted to tell people.
So I told you.