#LetsTalk 2016 – My depression, and how it hurts me

So today’s Bell’s annual #LetsTalk day, which is a promotion to get people talking about depression and mental health. Every time people tweet with the hashtag, Bell makes a donation to Canadian mental health programs.

Basically it’s a giant PR move that a lot of people just happen to believe in; the company’s shitty practices and suspect telecom practices aside, people can’t exactly say no to that kind of deal. However, besides the social media storm, it tends to bring out a ton of blog posts and stories about peoples’ experiences with mental health, like this one.

My depression sucks. It causes a lot of things that are going to sound drastic below, but I can say its severity varies.

My depression keeps me from talking about it, because I’m scared it’s going to affect peoples’ perceptions of me. My depression and anxiety makes me think that I’m not being “hard” enough, and the more I talk about it or seek support in a public forum, the more I’m being dramatic, attention-whore-y or generally unstable.

I’m afraid it’s going to typecast me as someone who can’t handle their shit, and that’s going to prevent me from getting work. I feel like when I do open up to friends, it dominates the conversation to the point where I don’t know how to hang out with someone without it devolving into a bitch-fest on my part.

I don’t want to be that person that can’t have a conversation without complaining about their life, but at the same time, I need support.

My depression tries to keep me from working because I get anxious about what happens if I actually try. Will I fail? Will I just suck? Will I hover around mediocrity forever, never knowing when it’s a good time to quit? This is obviously a self-fulfilling prophecy; if I never try, I never get to see.

My depression causes a fear that I hate so much, but need to confront.

My depression makes me lay in bed in the morning for at least an hour or two when I know I could crank out a blog post in that time. My depression makes me annoyed at myself when I actually time how long something takes to write, and I realize that it’s literally only one hour, compared to the twelve or more I’ll spend putting the writing off.

My depression kills me when people say that I’m talented, or my stuff is awesome. My anxiety puts so much weight into shares, follows, public perception and other metrics that it gets in the way of actually making things. It makes me wonder “if it’s so great, where’s the retweets?” which is kind of a stupid thought.

My depression makes me question if I really want success for the “right” reasons. My depression makes me think I’m simply not doing enough every day.

I want to grow, but I feel like I don’t know how without begging people with bigger followings for help; I don’t want to guilt people into supporting me, and I want to be able to stand on my own merit. I also don’t want to because then they’ll think I’m using them, and I value that friendship (or potential friendship) more than I do the growth.

My depression causes me to push people away when they obviously want to be my friend; I become wary of people and keep distance. My depression causes me to hold grudges, resent other peoples’ success and actively want them to fail.

It makes me wonder if I need to be something I’m not in order to succeed, and if I stay true to my principles I’m doomed to stay poor. My anxiety terrifies me when I think about all the money that’s flowing into eSports, and the possibility that I’m never going to be able to get any of it. My depression makes me wonder if I’ve passed up good opportunities in the past due to fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

There’s obviously a lot more where this came from, but to be honest, I think that I’ve improved over the past two years due to therapy, medication, mindset and growth. I don’t want to paint a picture of someone unstable or broken; I’ve done my best to improve because I want to.

The worst is that so much of this is conflicting with itself: I want to be prominent in my field, but hamstring myself on the way to get there. I resent others’ success while they do so in fields I actively want to get away from. I overthink about even saying “hi” to someone when they probably don’t even care.

Eventually I’d like to get better, but I realize that this kind of thing is a fight that doesn’t finish. It might get easier, but it never goes away. All I can say is that I have the will to fight this problem, even for the time being; I don’t want to go back to when I was worse.

If you know someone who needs support, reach out. If you’re reading this and feel like you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. If you’re in university, there’s a good chance you can get free therapy from your school. If you’re in a major city, there’s a good chance you can Google “Free [city] therapy” and find a help line. There’s 7 cups of tea for just someone who wants to listen. Hell, send me a tweet.

Mental health is something that carries a social stigma, but can be lessened through people not being afraid of opening up and being vulnerable, and other people realizing that’s okay. It’s about embracing empathy and being genuine. If anything, that’s a great place to start if you’re looking to help.

Keep talking.

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