Not long ago there was a big thing on depression and suicide awareness (which I feel is something that we should be aware of more than once a year but that is for a different post) and I tried writing a post, contributing my thoughts and feelings on the matter, along with how I both publicly and privately battle bipolar disorder. The post delved too far into my psyche for me to post publicly comfortably though, and it was deleted.
I still want to talk about it though, and I can use this past week as a pretty good example of how bad it gets sometimes.
It goes without saying that depression isn’t always something you can physically see. My father is a big advocate of “If you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist”, so I know there are people out there who believe it. This week, almost the past two weeks, has been a good example of how this can physically manifest in someone though.
After working conventions I generally feel a sense of being lost afterwords. I know a lot of convention crew that do, we generally call it Post Con Depression or PCD. We go through a lot to put on the conventions that you know and love, working long hours (I think one of my log times was 50 hours in 3 days) dealing with both happy and unhappy convention goers with smiles on our faces, knowing everything that is going on (memorization is key here!) and so on. By the end of it all we usually lack voices, sleep, food and our minds, but we’re happy because we put on something that made thousands of people happy. Some crews are smaller (Star Wars Celebration was less than 100 crew members) some crews are bigger (Enforcers is over 600 now I believe) but there is a definite sense of community. You are thrown into the fire together, you emerge together. Then everyone leaves. It’s done. You walk back into your life and you wonder, “What’s next?”
Chicago-based Enforcers have a monthly game night which helps pass the time along between PAX’s, and you’re able to see friends from that group of people. C2E2 is my home convention, meaning I can see the team from there more often if I can make it into the city (there are only a few of us suburban kids, surprisingly enough) A lot of my comrades from these conventions don’t live close though, within the 30 miles from my home to Chicago. There are the ones I only get to see once or twice a year because of distance. All of my money goes into being able to travel to each of these conventions around the country, so it’s not like I can go on vacation to see them (maybe one day that will happen?) Back to the point though, after a convention, even with the gatherings to make it through, you’re still sad by the end of a con. This time for me was more than that.
This 2 week stretch of conventions was a physical test upon myself to see if I could do it. Star Wars Celebration was my first con since surgery, since it was a pretty low-key convention I did pretty okay, but I was worn out at the end of each day. I contribute a lot of that to being under the weather as well, but I still knocked out early each night. I knew the second convention, PAX Dev/Prime would be harder on me, as I knew there was an industry thing every night after the show, along with a lot more people who I would need to see. Don’t get me wrong, I knew some people going into SWC, but I knew already what PAX had to hold for me. I was right too, physically PAX was much harder on me than SWC. By the end of it all, when I got on the plane home from Seattle, I was incredibly teary eyed from all the emotions, as well as losing feeling in my legs on the plane. After I got home I fell into a coma and slept for 15 hours. I woke up to cry a lot. Like, a lot a lot. I started working on editing all (almost 2000) pictures that I had taken over the 2 weeks. I took screenshots of the new website that is so close to being done, to put up here as a placeholder. I wrote more into Alternates. I sent my resume to more people. I still had some energy in me to prove “I can do this. I can be a real working adult who can work from home. I am a big girl!”
But that died quickly.
The day I got back I received a text from one of the girls at Office Job that the Chicago public school teachers are going on strike. I had a podcast to prepare for. Then I was informed that the teachers were going on strike and I would be working full-time in the schools as a glorified babysitter/teacher. My parents confronted me on more financial issues that are happening. My back went completely out, causing me to fall down the stairs and hit my head quite hard. Doctors notes upon doctors notes happened. I went to work in the school. Children asking all things of me, ages 5-14, when I can barely handle having a niece and nephew. OCD went into full rage. My hands bled from how dry and cracked they were from all the hand sanitizer I went through. I began to break down. I left work early. I avoided the kids. I hid in the bathroom to stay away from them. I was doing more harm than good being around them.
It was close friends birthday gathering on Friday. I was able to go, I had a great time. We saw an awful movie. It was great. But when I got home I couldn’t muster up the energy to prepare for my father’s 50th birthday bbq. I had a 4 layer cake to bake, along with a full-scale menu to prepare and my own gluten free options. Instead I went to bed.
I didn’t get up until late the next morning.
I baked the cake, but my dad decided he wanted to make the menu himself (I’m pretty positive he is where my stubbornness comes from) which left me to…go back to bed. I barely made it outside for the party. My best friend, who I haven’t seen in a few months even came. He played well with my nephew, making me laugh a lot. But then I went back upstairs. Everyone sent me text messages while I was in bed that the cake was great. “cool,” I thought, and then rolled over and went to sleep. Woke up later that night, powered through some more Borderlands, went back to sleep. Did the podcast on Sunday. I feel in general it was one of our stronger broadcasts but I just wasn’t…good. I think. I’m sure if I listen now it would be okay, but I felt off. Played Borderlands all day. Didn’t get out of bed. Called off of work Monday and Tuesday. Didn’t get out of bed. Strike ended Tuesday night, realized I didn’t have to be at work again until Thursday. I went to the midnight release of Borderlands 2, where I was outcasted for being the only girl there. Brother and Brothers Friend stood up for me, sexist dude was escorted out but the damage was done. Didn’t get out of bed on Wednesday. Got a call for a job interview, it was cancelled. More reason to not get out of bed. I am here at work today because I was afraid of losing the only steady source of income I have. Which isn’t anything really, but I still need it.
My brain, this entire two weeks, has been berating me.
Oh, you’re sad? You’re sad you can’t see your friends? Oh, well there are some starving kids over in Africa who are dying because they have no food. You should probably go save them. Maybe you’ll make some friends there.
Oh, your back hurts? Good. You deserve that. You know there are people who break their spines and never walk again? Way to suck. So what if your back hurts, you have a whole new spine and you can walk. Maybe you should go talk to someone in a wheelchair who will never walk again. Jerk.
You’re so weird. Why can’t you get out of bed like normal people. Normal people work at offices and have friends and be social. You just sit in bed and be sad all the time. But you’re too weak to get out of bed aren’t you? You’re scared people are going to see you for what you are, just a sad weirdo.
You should probably just stay in bed and play more Borderlands. No one wants to see you anyway. Why do you even bother trying to communicate with people? It just comes back to you in the long run.
Congratulations, you were able to hold a phone conversation without having a full-blown panic attack. Maybe one day you’ll learn how to get out of bed and shower like a normal person.
Doctors are giving you more bad news? Good. You probably deserve it for not being grateful enough for what you have. Did you know some people don’t have a family to run to when they are sad? You should probably feel more sad.
Can’t find something to do with your time? How about spending more time on that website that you have been promising. What about all of those hair flowers that need to be made? What about all the theater stuff you need to complete? Have you started drawing more art? How about writing some more? Oh, you’re just going to sit and play more video games aren’t you? Too good for doing all the work you’re supposed to be doing? Look at you. You’re letting everyone down. You should be ashamed.
And I am ashamed.
Not for what I am going through, not for the fact that this is something I deal with so regularly that I should be used to it by this point.
I’m ashamed that I let it get to this point.
I am a victim of my own brain, a lot of which I know where it stems from. Before this second breakage of spine I was working out 6 days a week, training in Muay Thai, weights and a lot of cardio. Now running the 3 miles I did every day looks impossible. But working out that hard every day kept myself occupied and I was able to avoid the negative thoughts that usually take control, as they have done the past two weeks. Conventions keep me busy. Office jobs do not. Staying bed for days on end (even if it is to play an awesome video game) is probably bad.
I’m slowly starting to work my way back, just in time for New York Comic Con, my last convention of this year. From there I have to plan out next year, expenses and what I plan to attended. I have a job interview today. I have a podcast to plan for this week. I have to apply for more jobs. I need to work on this website.
I have things to do. Now all I need is the will to do it.
The point that is being made here is this is just the way depression can physically manifest in someone. Depending on how bad it gets. I let it get to this point by not trying to avoid it. Avoidance has always been the best way for me to deal with these things. Each person who suffers from depression or bipolar disorder does this in their own way. For me, when my depression is bad I cannot (and more than likely will not) get out of bed. Some people choose to go through depression phases in alcohol binges, some choose sex, some choose art, some choose medication.
The point is, almost everyone I know gets depressed. You aren’t alone in this.
Suicide feels like an answer, an escape, but it’s not. You can guilt yourself out of it, like I do. “Think of all the people you’re letting down by giving up!” you can find someone to talk to about it. Write. Draw. Create. Destroy. Dig a hole, burn some wood. Find an outlet.
Never give up, never surrender.
Don’t be like me. Get out of bed. Don’t let your brain win. Get help. Always ask for help. It’s okay to ask for help.