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Villain Spotlight: Depression and My Struggle for Complete Control

It’s been a long time since I did a villain spotlight. I am going to ask you all to humor me for just this one session, unless you all request more along the lines of this. My entire life has not been what you call extremely difficult, but it hasn’t been easy either. There are constant threats lurking around each corner and multiple strikes planned against my livelihood by the most awful of creatures. No, it is not some form of monster or some kind of sorcery bent on making me succumb to its terrible might. However, it is something that festers within, and makes it nearly impossible to enjoy even the most simplest of things that normal people find enticing or entertaining. It may be something you are all familiar with in some aspect, or something that is entirely brand new to you. Depression…..one of the foulest afflictions on the planet that isn’t an actual physical disfigurement or something that is visible to the public.

depression

I hope this doesn’t make you all miserable and feed you a heavy dose of pity for me, because that is not the reason I am writing this. This is mainly for myself, but it is something that a lot of other people suffer from and if my experience can help someone or shine some light on what they are experiencing, then I would be an asshole not to share. So let’s do this. Keep in mind that this is not usually something you will see from the Geeks, but it is the closest thing to an antagonist that I have in my life, so that qualifies it for a Villain Spotlight.

Depression is something that crawls up your legs and wraps its sadness tentacles around your throat so tight that it feels like you are drowning in your own thoughts and feelings. It fucking sucks. It grabs hold of your mind and withers away your body while you struggle for complete control, which is nearly impossible. I was diagnosed with it years ago, when I was just finishing up high school, and it has never left me. Yes there are days when I feel simply amazing and want to do everything in the world all at once. Other days I wake up and think what purpose is there for actually getting up and getting dressed for the day? It’s maddening. Every day is a gamble for me and usually I lose horribly. There is no way to keep a hot streak going, because there is almost no way to tell when and how depression will hit you. It’s almost as if your body only has a set number of happy emotions on tap and when those are used up, you board a train to fuck town, and not in a good way. You can feel it happening too which is one of the worst parts. The fact that you cannot stop it or bottle it up somehow to deal with it later makes dealing with it so much harder. Let me explain this a little better.

cthulhu

When I was in high school, my grandmother was diagnosed with Altzheimers, which if you do not know what that is, it is the degrading and loss of total control of your mind. Think along the lines of meeting Cthulhu in person…..absolute horror. They say the people who are afflicted by Altzheimers are not the ones who suffer from the disease, it’s the people who love them and care for them that take the brunt of it. This is true and false at the same time. I took care of my grandmother the best I could along with my mother and sometimes the rest of my family. I was going to college, working two jobs and taking care of her whenever I could. This meant many sleepless nights and many days where I was on such high alert that I couldn’t even function properly. I would wake up in the middle of the night to hear her screaming for her mother, who had died years ago. I would get up in the morning to smell the entire house filled with gas because she decided she wanted to make some soup but couldn’t get the oven to work properly. Those were my days and my nights all while trying to maintain some kind of social and professional life. It wasn’t working. I felt myself slipping into this sort of mind state where I felt my entire existence was going to be taking care of this woman. The woman who took care of me while my mother and father worked endless hours to put food on the table. How could I tell her to fuck off and let me live my life? How could I tell her that I wanted to hang out with my friends and find someone to date when she didn’t even know who most of us were? She thought I was two different people: my young self and my current self. I cannot tell you how awful it is to see someone hit that stage in their life and have everything be so confusing and scary. It broke me. Broke me to the point where I dropped out of school and left my one job because my neighbor called me while I was working one day to tell me that my grandmother had let the dogs out and was wandering our street asking for her family. What could I do? I dedicated myself as much as I could to helping her and my mother out during this time of crisis, and after 7 years of the disease, my grandmother finally succumbed to old age and passed on, leaving me with no direction in life.

Sad yet? Believe me, it hasn’t ended yet. I also really appreciate you all for sticking through this at this point as I know it isn’t what you regularly come here for. Moving on. After my grandmother died, I went through what I called post Altzheimers stress syndrome, or PASS. It’ a feeling of loss and emptiness that follows when a loved one afflicted with the disease dies. I kept waking up in the middle of the night at the slightest of noises, and I woke up in the morning nose first, smelling for gas or fire. Nothing. Nothing at all. It was horrible. Maybe it was my mind telling me that she was still here in some fashion, or maybe it was just muscle memory since I had spent so much time taking care of her? I wasn’t sure, and I wasn’t positive that I wanted to find out. I wasn’t sure I could handle life now that I had so much freedom. I had no idea what to do with myself since I hadn’t had this amount of free time in a long time. I went back to school, began working more hours, and spending lots of time on my own, in my room, in total darkness and sadness. I couldn’t help it or stop it. It was crushing my very existence. The lady who had taken up so much of my time and efforts was gone, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I dropped out of school again, and got laid off from my job. Now I had all the free time in the world to do absolutely nothing except wallow in my own misery. The PASS didn’t leave me either. It’s been 6 years since my grandmother passed, and it still haunts me to this day.

depression meds

Now I know it sounds like I am talking more about Altzheimers rather than depression, but they can easily go hand in hand. Like I said, so much of my time was spent taking care of her, that everything else in my life took a back seat. When it finally hit me in full force, about two years into my grandmother’s affliction, I started thinking back to my previous years looking for some answers as to why it was so prevalent all of a sudden. I knew the disease was a large part of it, but it wasn’t the only thing that drove me into seclusion and exhaustive depression. I thought about my time in high school. It wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t made fun of all that much although I was big, and I had a solid group of friends that I keep to this day. I kept ringing my brain over and over to try and figure out what caused it…..and I couldn’t think of anything, and that’s what was so scary about the whole thing. Depression chooses people at random. You can say all you want about genes and DNA, and I am sure there could be some sort of correlation between the two, but those are not the only factors in acquiring depression. It seems to not have any sort of preference as to who has it, as long as someone has it. It sits inside and waits until you have a moment in your life of pure and unwanted weakness, and it strikes with every ounce of strength it has. Brutally and efficiently it leaves you feeling as if you are the biggest piece of shit on the planet and there is no room for you, which makes everything worse because it is not true. Not at all.

depression group

Depression takes the worst of you and makes you face it head on, every day, every minute. You can never let it stay home to take a break. It just won’t do it. Yeah it’ll throw you a bone here and there to keep you from hanging yourself, but that’s the most evil part. It gives you a taste of what you have been dying for, and then it takes it away from you as soon as it can. Yes there are anti-depressants. Yes there are groups you can go to and share your experiences and hear stories from other people who suffer from what you suffer from, but all of that can makes things just as bad. Take this anti-depressant and it’ll make you happy but give it will also make you gain super amounts of weight or make you lose weight in a way that people wonder if you have an eating disorder. Talk to these people who are suffering too and then go home and feel worse because you don’t have it as bad as most but still feel like shit because you are depressed. There is nothing you can do that will make you feel 100%, and I hate to say that. There are ways to feel better, but it will only be done through time and effort. Nothing will give you an automatic healing session, and anyone who tells you differently either doesn’t understand or is a fucking liar. Meds can help you, I won’t deny it, but some of the side effects are worse than the actual depression or can easily just add to it. Talking to other people will give you a kindred spirit, but it will also make you take that person’s depression as your own. The old saying misery loves company is so spot on that you have to assume a depressive wrote it. It sucks because you want to feel better, you want to feel good, you want to feel normal, but how can you? How can you beat this invisible beast into submission so as to let you move on with your life? There is no real answer to it, besides tackling it head on and either getting some help or doing something that soothes your soul. For me, it’s writing for the Geeks and drinking endless amounts of coffee while in the company of good people. Yes I know I stated that depression makes you somewhat reclusive and makes it difficult to enjoy life, but you have to do these things if you ever stand a chance of being set free.

Being set free from depression is like trying to break a giant boulder with a plastic spoon or a super soaker. You have to chip away at it for a long time, even if it never fully goes away. Yes there are days when I still wake up thinking there’s a gas smell or wondering what sort of cruel person would allow me to wake up again to this bag of shit that is my life, but I also think about the good things…the things that make me happy and make me want to continue living. My family, Lady Harkness,my friends, the Geeks, my niece, NetFlix, video games, comics, books, movies, people, manga, floor hockey, Frisbee, the smell of the wind in the summer, the feel of the cold snow in my hands as I pelt the neighborhood children with snow and ice balls, the new season of the Vikings, Game of Thrones, Kingdom Hearts, stand up comedy, Bioshock, death metal, carnival fried dough, coffee, cheeseburgers, driving with the windows down. So many things that make me want to stay alive even though depression is creeping around every corner. My defense nowadays is forming a shield of positivity to combat the forces that seek to take my life from me, even if it means turning my brain into soup or exhausting my emotions to the point of near ice cold indifference. There is nearly no other way to do it without those meds or groups. Sometimes though, you have to look at yourself, and you need to think about what brings you joy and what brings you a reason to get up in the morning and not utter the words “ well….woke up again today…..now what?”

arthur picking up the pieces

I hope this didn’t turn into a ramble of the boring variety for you all, and I hope it was at least somewhat informative. You cannot do this on your own most of the time, but you can take steps to help others help you or learn ways to combat this demon when you don’t have anyone else to talk to, and if that is the case, I implore you to reach out to me if you can. I will never turn down someone who needs help in this aspect, regardless of what my schedule is or what I am currently feeling. There is always someone to help, and there are always people that can help you help yourself. Please, listen to me when I say this. Depression is no fucking joke. People may not understand it, and may not give it the sort of attention that it deserves, but it is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. I cannot tell you how many people I know of that didn’t get help or didn’t help themselves when they needed it, and are no longer here to ask for it. It makes me sad just to think about it, but it also makes me slightly less depressed because I know that I can do this, and you all can do this too. I promise you, this is not something that will be here forever, but only if you take steps to get better. Trust me, like I said, there are still days when I wake up and think about why I am still here, and then I think about all of the people who would miss me and all of those people who couldn’t or didn’t get help. I fucking refuse to let this be the end of me, and so should you. Besides….Kingdom Hearts 3 comes out soon, so you have that to look forward to, as well as anything else in your life that give you joy. I hope you all heed my words. You can do this. You can do this. I know you can. I know I can. I know we can. All it takes is one piece at a time.

Thank You.

Follow me on Twitter @ArthurHarkness

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About Arthur Harkness

I like things, and things like me back

Posted on March 6, 2014, in Features, Geekology, Villain Spotlight and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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