Depression is an insidious thing. It begins subtly, slowly zapping the strength, will-power, desire, and life, until in the end, there is little of anything left of the person who used to be.
There are the usual symptoms you can get from any website that talks about depression: anxiety, apathy, boredom, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, inability to feel pleasure, loneliness, loss of interest, mood swings, sadness, or emotional distress. None of these in and of itself are a guarantee of depression, but they do signal that depression is a possible cause. Given that depression is so common, even Google has an immediate call out about the symptoms. Impressive.
The trick to surviving depression is to knowing it's coming, to see the signals before the full episode hits you. Given that the signals are different for every person, that trick becomes tricky indeed.
Jessica once asked me, "If you knew it [depression] was coming, why wouldn't you do everything you could to stop it?"
I couldn't answer her at the time, but now I think I can.
Because you don't always know see it coming before it is too late.
I know my symptoms. Better yet, I know my triggers. THAT knowledge is worth all the gold in all the world to me.
I also have coping mechanisms. Some work better than others. Some rely on others. Some work really well, some help just a little. I use them all.
So, when a friend asks, "Would you like to help me install the insulation today?" and I know, I KNOW, that the reason I'm sleeping until noon, reading a lot, not exercising, avoiding friends, avoiding social situations, being grumpy at work, and wanting nothing more than to crawl into my bed with the covers over my head and avoid the world is because I'm heading into another blue funk and becoming depressed, I will answer, "Yes."
Because crawling under a house is an adventure I won't have if I don't say yes.
Because meeting up with a friend I haven't seen in year won't happen if I don't say yes.
Because learning at a tech meetup won't happen if I don't say yes.
Because 67161 burpees won't happen if I don't say yes.
I know what I want to do, and I know that it doesn't lead me to who I want to be.
So, I will say yes, even though I have exactly zero desire to do so, because I know, if I weren't sliding down that hill into the black chasm, I would say yes. That yes does lead me to who I want to be.
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