I started writing this book a hundred days. A hundred days ago, I just wanted to write a book on depression, metaphorically represented by the dead people our hero (?) talks to, in an attempt to exorcise that same depression from my life.
For that, I will not claim success.
I mean, there’s lots of good that has come out of writing this book, but excising depression from my life?
At times, it’s only made it worse. As I delve into the issues that drive depression – isolation, fear, guilt, shame, a general sense of low or non-existent self-worth – inevitably, I found myself applying what I wrote, written from the darkest angle, to myself.
In other news, I’ve also lost all objectivity, now six drafts in, and am no longer capable of adequately judging whether the book is any good at all, or whether it’s a poorly written, navel gazing piece of shit.
So bully for that.
On the other hand, what I’ve discovered about how I relate to depression and how I represent it to myself is worth its weight in whatever fortune this book might ever have made, were it to become a great success.
After spending far too many years mired in the delusion of perfection and completion (i.e., that these were actually achievable states), I’ve come to accept that we must, by our very nature, always be incomplete.
We must always be in a state of flux. Ironically, a state of constant change is the only thing that does not change. The second we realize that it’s not about reaching a certain level and then that’s it, the better off we are.
Depression is the opposite of growth. It assumes the worst, that all is entropy, pointless and spiteful and as cruelly unfair as it can be. It assumes there’s no way out. There’s nothing to change. Nothing can change. Even if it does, to what end?
Depression, the monster, the devil, it tells us that unhappy stasis and an inevitable decline are all that’s available, so why try?
The problem is there’s something inside of us, that no matter how shitty things get, it picks up up off the mat and we keep on, somehow, even if it’s just lying there.
When things get the worst, it’s because we’ve given up that little thing that keeps us moving.
And we sure will suffer a lot before we get to that point, to reach that place where the peace of nothing of greater hope than the possibility of something, anything that might somehow be better.
It stands to reason then that if depression is stasis and entropy, culminating in the belief that nothing is better than something, that joy would be opposite.
Change and growth, bolstered by the belief that any progress, any step forward (and they are all forward; it’s just how we choose to acknowledge that fact that determines whether we grow) is a better step than nothing at all.
A continued breath is better than no breath.
This possibility, taught to me by this process and the surprising project of essaying each chapter for meaning and progression, is how I know I’ll get out of it. The story didn’t exorcise depression; it taught me what it was, and gave me a starting point for how to manage it, and hopefully, eventually remove it from my life in the future.
From the bleakest of places, we find a way forward.
It only took a lifetime and a hundred days to figure that out.