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#7 Depression Is Not a Disease

The death of Anthony Bourdain hit me hard. I waited a second to post this blog, but maybe I shouldn't have.


I'm sick of society referring to #depression as a "disease". We're not talking #schizophrenia here - we're talking general depression - a completely normal human response to feeling #unhappy that can be triggered by a large scale of events such as feeling trapped, #uninspired, hurt, etc.


I was a happy kid. Really creative, always winning awards, good in school. But the older I got, I became sick of the #routine. I felt trapped in a #system that wasn't built for me and, as a #minor, I had no #control or ability to step out of it. By high school, I'd already been feeling this way for years and that's when I decided to stop trying. I'd spent most of my life tortuously dragging myself out of bed for something I hated, day after day, year after year, only to come home to do more busy work. Was this all #life was ever going to be? I thought, this cycle wasn't going to end after high school; I'd then be pressured into getting a traditional degree (or "I'd never amount to anything" - a sad #untruth many of us are made to believe in our youth). By the time I finished college, I'd have accumulated a considerable amount of #debt that I wouldn't be able to pay off for decades (before even becoming a legal adult) and then I'd settle into a job where, again, I'd be forced into a similar-style routine in order to make money to #survive... (Survive what? What this the kind of life worth surviving?)


I was #hospitalized twice for being #suicidally #depressed. (I learned never to sign my rights away to anyone, ever, and learned to hate #institutions and group therapy.) I spent years with therapists, #psychiatrists, etc, but the problem wasn't chemical; it was the way I saw the world. While I was a teenager, most of my depression was a rational response to unfavorable circumstances.


I understand feeling #trapped, being a creative person stuck in a system that wasn't meant for me. I was luckier than a lot of people as a teenager and came from an amazing #family who loved me. I couldn't take my own life because I knew it would hurt them too much... I somehow found my way, my "place".


While I decided to stick around, I can understand another person's rationalization for not wanting to. I feel people should be given every #support necessary in showing them that they are #valuable members of society, that there is a place for them somewhere in the world, and that there are ways to change your #circumstances when you are feeling trapped and alone. (Then again, I respect one's right to "checking out" and in no way do I feel #suicide is a selfish decision.)


I'm an extremely #nontraditional person. I'm a #traveling #musician, I own three non-music-related digital companies that allow me to live a #nomadic life (none of which my degrees trained me for). I went #digital so I didn't have to work within the 9-5 system because it made me want to kill myself. I learned that I had to do things my way and not wait around for someone else to hand me an opportunity in order to feel truly fulfilled. I #read a lot, am constantly learning knew #skills and working hard to develop them. There are still times when I am #miserable, and life feels #futile or #uncertain and I feel very, very alone. But this is all part of life. Ultimately, we are all truly alone and will #die alone. At times, life feels like a really long Super Mario game; we all know it's a losing game regardless of how many times we catch the #InvincibilityStar. We only have a short time on this planet and we need to learn how #entertain ourselves, do what makes us #happy, spend time making others happy. All the #suffering, anxiety - it will end. (#Stress and #anxiety are generally useless wastes of #energy that do us no good in enjoying the time we have or being able to live to our full #potential.)


I don't know why #AnthonyBourdain did it. He's the guy that had the job that everyone wanted, the epitome of "cool". Some might even say, "he had everything". But he clearly didn't. #SocialMedia, #TV, and the #Internet are great tools for #businesses and individuals to "#curate" themselves to appear as if they actually have their shit together - that they're #happy, #famous, or "together". The reality is, we're all just people. Businesses, #corporations, #governments... are all made up of #people who were once babies, who wore diapers, who fell down trying to walk. We're ALL just trying to figure it out every day - still #babies trying to stand. There will always be #lessons to learn and #obstacles to overcome. We ARE #alone, but we are alone together.


I loved Anthony. I cried on the phone to my Dad when he died. I felt like we had something in common and I wish I could have known him personally. He #inspired me. But even he didn't have it all figured out. (Or maybe he'd felt like he figured it out and he didn't like what he'd found, a common tale of the man who got everything he ever wanted.)


Depression is not a #disease. It's not necessarily hormonal. It's a way of looking at the world, a state of mind, and, often, completely sane.


The question is... What are you going to do about it?


*****

Resources:

One valuable tool I recommend is the #SuicidePreventionLifeline (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/, 1-800-273-8255). 


(OR, if you're in the UK, #Samaritans https://www.samaritans.org/, 116 123) 


These hotlines are NOT strictly for people who are contemplating #suicide. Trained professionals are waiting patiently for your call to talk you through any of your day-to-day troubles including financial struggles, issues at work, family trauma, abuse... you name it. They will listen and respond, for hours, if need be. These hotlines are toll-free and open 24/7. (They may have a #stigma for some, as many people don't want to categorize themselves as a "suicide candidates" - Get over it.)


*Some people may prefer to see traditional #therapists, but here's the thing: 

Many times, when you MOST need to speak with someone (that moment of pure #desperation), your #therapist is not available (until, say, Tuesday at 6pm, "your appointment time" - by which time, you've already worked through that #problem you were currently #struggling with and really don't feel like rehashing all the #feelings and #trauma you had to work through just to get to this week). Maybe #therapy is too costly, or you don't want to trouble your loved ones or feel like a "#burden". There are professionals waiting for you via these #hotlines, 24/7, and they will give you all the time you need. They are great #listeners.


Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section of my #blog. Please respect that it is a #SafeSpace. I am #listening. And there are others who are ready to #listen too. 

I took this photo at Constantine Bay in Cornwall, UK in 2014 at a time where I felt very alone (in a place where I should have been "happy") This was a moment of beauty that made me feel thankful for being alive. It is my favorite photo I have ever taken.

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