I want to thank my good friend for being willing to write this post for all of us to learn from. He has struggled with depression and has learned so much from it. Enjoy
I suffer from depression. I've learned that depression is a really personal thing, and each person will experience the symptoms in a way so unique to them that any advice I might give would be meaningless…at least that is how I’ve felt each time I’ve sat down to write this. Proceeding with the knowledge that this is my own experience, I hope that it helps you in some way.
I’ll briefly explain what prompts my depression, why it is such a problem, and what I’ve learned about dealing with it. A significant player contributing to my depression is a pervasive single status. Being single is rough. I don’t think mankind was ever meant to be alone. When I say alone I don’t mean friends or family. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great family, and I have wonderful friends, I even have extremely meaningful interactions with people at work, but I’m still alone because the interactions I share with these people will never be able to progress to anything further. My siblings have their own spouses, and their own children. My friends and roommates have gotten married, and made commitments to their wives and families. We are still close, and we share some great moments, but when things are all said and done whatever we have is fleeting.
It is really difficult for a married person to even understand this type of loneliness, and words fail me adequately describe it. Imagine wanting something so bad that you literally ache inside. It hits you when you go to sleep at night and only have to turn down half the covers.
It hits you when you cook food, or eat, and only ever dirty one dish. It hits you in the silence when you return home from work after a long day, and open the door to a dark space that hasn’t been disturbed since you left 12 hours ago.
The reason being single is such a problem is that despite my belief that mankind was never meant to be alone this state of being easily consumes you. You eventually live in a paradox where you want nothing more than to be married, but you have also completely resigned yourself to the knowledge that you will be alone.
For me it is when this paradox is strongest that I get depressed. I get depressed because I lose hope in ever finding a path. I could probably live a pretty fulfilling life alone; I am accomplished, I have a great job, and a ton of education, I get to do service regularly, and being single lets me throw my full weight into helping others, and supporting my family, I am also able to dedicate more time to my students. This is so comfortable that it wouldn’t be bad, but knowing that my life is supposed to be different is confusing. You can only live a confused life for so long before it breaks.
I’ve gone on enough about the problem. Let me explain one thing that helped me. It was when I first decided to no longer be a victim. I didn’t come to this conclusion easily. I had a great bishop who spoke with me every day. He saw me as something that I couldn’t see. His version was just more true, while mine was twisted by misconceptions. At first I didn’t believe him, but he just asked me to trust him. My first few attempts to trust him lasted only minutes. I quickly returned to how I viewed myself. Slowly, and I mean slowly, I began to trust him for longer periods of time.
I noticed once when I was listening to a song that I began to cry uncontrollably. It wasn’t a sad cry, and I frankly didn’t want it to stop. It was so fulfilling. I realized that there was something about the song that resonated with a voice inside of me that affirmed in my mind that I was better than everyone else.
The song was like a pilot light that ignited the fuel my Bishop had been throwing at me for weeks. I began to find more affirmations with which to fill my life. I found poetry and literature that spoke to that voice, and I cried. I cried, and then I would write about it. I based so much of my education on my newfound perceptions within these literary affirmations. I found more music that would leave me in tears—which probably looked ridiculous to drivers as I jogged down trails and sidewalks emotionally hysterical. I found art that reminded me of great things. Lastly I found activities that made me feel superior. I hate heights, and yet my favorite sport is rock climbing. I’m terrible at it, and I struggle up the wall. My knees quiver, and I’m nervous the entire climb, but tapping the top of the ledge is a rush, and reminds me that I’m capable of anything. I also discovered Crossfit. There was something about the team aspect and competitive nature of this sport that made me feel each day like I was a champion. I go to the gym every morning at 4:30, not because I like working out, or even that I want to get in shape. I go because I have built a bond with these people that staves off any loneliness.
If you are depressed I’m sorry. I know what you are going through, though your causes might be different than mine. Despite that, you are still greater than these symptoms, and it is a symptom. The depression isn’t a cause, it is a symptom. Which means that it can be alleviated, and maybe even fixed.