Random thoughts on depression and mental health.
Having some sort of predictability in a schedule is something that I really miss. As a freelancer, my schedule is almost always all over the place and while I understand that work and life often change and force people to change plans, I do really miss having a set schedule and predictable work day. As an introvert with depression and some general anxiety, being out and about in various capacities is exhausting and draining most days. Knowing exactly how my day’s going to go and exactly what I need to do often keeps me focused and when to take breaks from everything.
I know that a part of this frustration and exhaustion stems directly from my depression. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I realized that getting super frustrated and angry over minor inconveniences isn’t normal. I don’t mean getting temporarily getting irritated over someone cutting you off – I mean that I was getting really angry and frustrated over stuff like accidentally bumping into a corner or someone changing plans.
As cheesy as it sounds, hearing Wil Wheaton talk about his depression on Aisha Tyler’s podcast ‘Girl on Guy’ changed my life. In it, he talks about how he experienced that same sort of anger and irritation over really minor things because of his depression. That was an ‘aha!’ moment for me because I never realized that depression has a wider impact than just feeling sad.
I had never really learned enough about depression and mental health in any sort of educational setting. A psychology 101 class in college definitely helped to open some doors but it wasn’t enough for me to realize all of the nuances that come with depression and anxiety. And learning about them at home was a definite bust – any sort of negative emotion (and there were many as a teenager with depression) was dismissed and immediately shamed.
I’m trying to be better about not letting all of my negative emotions (like anger and frustration) completely dominate my life while also letting myself experience them. Society, as a whole, is awful in regards to letting people experience any negative emotions and that is doubly so for marginalized people. Stereotypes, like the angry and/or black woman in particular, add misogynoir to this already complicated mess.
Police are regularly ill equipped for dealing with mental health problems, resulting in those with a mental illness one of the most likely to be killed by a police officer. People like Renee Davis, Deborah Danner, and many more needed help and support, which is why wellness checks were called in, but instead, they died because others are ill equipped to handle mental health issues. And of course, race, class, gender, and more play a role in this.
Being able to talk about my depression is often hard because after a lifetime of being told to not only stop feeling the symptoms but stop expressing them, I still carry around that shame. I’m getting better about dealing with all of this and talking about it but it’s still difficult and I’m still afraid about how I’m going to be received by others. My race and class privilege, along with the fact that depression and anxiety are better understood than other illnesses, afford me several layers of protection and understanding. But I often still worry, not only for myself but the many others going through mental health problems.