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A Personal Journey with Depression


I have been struggling.

Depression has been a chronic illness for more of my life than it hasn’t at this point, but I’d gotten a lot better at managing it in the past few years. It took time to get on antidepressants and even longer to realize I needed to be treating Bipolar 2 Disorder instead of Major Depressive Disorder. Even that didn’t help too much until I also started taking something for ADHD to help with executive dysfunction. Finally, I had the energy and motivation to get through the day feeling like a normal person. There were bad times, but I understood how much better I was doing than before.

Early in 2023, I effectively ran out of money. There were days I would only eat half a can of soup because it was all I could afford. I had to beg anyone I knew for money while I waited for the lease on the apartment to expire. Eventually, I moved into my partner’s place, but that was about the time my doctor retired from seeing patients, so there was no way to get my prescriptions renewed even once I could conceivably afford them again. All the symptoms that had been under control burst forward to smother me. I was bedridden for months, and no amount of love and support helped me find the strength to do more than get up and cook dinner before collapsing back into bed. Days and weeks blended into each other as my writing slammed to a halt; I lost a lot of the meager financial support I’d spent a year building up. No passive income at the time. Several years of progress on my career had been undone, and contrary to pithy sayings, nobody was opening any new doors.

And then one morning, I woke up fine. By a stroke of luck (or possibly divine intervention) the malaise that had turned me into a useless goo was out of my life. I was motivated, energized, and emotionally healthy! Spontaneous remission of a nearly lifelong illness; the luckiest lucky break I’d ever been given. So I got busy living and got busy working, committing myself to improving as a writer, and the result has been gratifying even though I’ve had to adjust my expectations. Taking criticism became easier than ever before. My work was no longer “good enough,” it was something that could become better. I sought new places to publish my writing, new potential sources of revenue, and new people I could learn from while also sitting down to engage with a broader variety of fiction, history, and philosophy.

Things weren’t perfect. I still had interpersonal problems, but a new willingness to self-reflect helped me identify toxic behaviors I’d always relied on. It took time to internalize that acknowledging bad decisions doesn’t mean accepting you’re a bad person and that refusing to apologize doesn’t make you right; if I cared about others, I needed to act like it. “What would a good person do in this situation?” became a common refrain in my mind. The answer is always frustratingly obvious, especially since it’s never a flattering one. Over the course of a year, I became a slightly better person, and I was able to channel this growth into helping the people I cared about.

It was only a few months ago that I noticed how I was starting to feel pretty tired. Motivation didn’t come as easily. Some days my brain was abuzz with energy that I couldn’t direct anywhere meaningful, and at times it would be hard to sleep and even harder to get out of bed. I knew the signs. There was never a day where I forgot how lucky I was for my Depression to go disappear at a point where I had no medical help to treat it. The fact it might and perhaps inevitably would come back had hung over my head for an entire year before the threat actually manifested, and while I have worked diligently to prepare by learning how to better manage my mental health, every week feels a little more difficult than the last. It’s getting harder and harder to engage with news of the world outside my apartment without feeling hopeless. I don’t reach out to people like I used to. A few weeks ago, I botched a social encounter with a stranger in a multiplayer game and was so haunted by it that I nearly burst into tears.

I’m not giving up. Disabled people have spent all of human history managing; there’s no reason I can’t with all the marvels of the modern world. The indomitable human spirit can learn to live with anything. Things will turn around for me again, and I will have the medicine I need even if it takes another year or more.

Following my partner’s advice, I’ve started holding myself to a more rigid daily schedule. Following my own advice, I remain proud of myself for managing to do just a small chunk of my total workload at a time instead of punishing myself for not being more productive. I have to write myself more notes than I used to, with a daily task list I simply can’t function without, and I find myself going longer and longer before reaching out to catch up with friends. But I’m able to keep to my regularly scheduled group outings, and I’m looking for ways I can get out of the house and expand my writing career. This boulder is getting up that hill.

There’s no telling what tomorrow will bring. Every day is a unique challenge even for people who don’t struggle with mental health. I’m fortunate enough to have a roof over my head and the determination to survive even if I can’t do anything else. Ten years ago, I couldn’t have imagined being grateful to make it where I am now, with a partner and a career that I love. What will ten more years of not giving up bring?