Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Where are all the funny blogs about depression?

In keeping with my attempts to stick with blogging, I just looked through categories on Bloglovin to find other bloggers I could connect with and follow, and maybe they'll even follow me back. The idea is I'll be more inclined to write if I have an audience. The categories were too broad and resulted in blogs with thousands of followers and that's more impersonal than what I'm looking for.

So in the searchbar, I typed "depression." And the results were all... depressing.

I mean, sure, mental illness is a serious deal and it comes with many hardships. But to only focus on the downsides is just giving into it, isn't it? The idea that someone like me, with major depression, does not have anything positive or humorous going on in their life is as big of a downer as the disease itself.

In high school, I took a Holocaust literature class. And I came into class one day on the verge of tears because it was so much to deal with. My teacher was wonderful, though. And she dug out some short stories for me to read and lead me to an empty classroom across the hall so I could have time to myself. The stories were written by Holocaust survivors and while I can't remember who wrote them or what they were specifically about, I do remember they made me laugh out loud. These were words from brutally oppressed people, trapped in a living hell with no end in sight. Yet they were able to find humor in the smallest things and that gave them hope and optimism.

Clearly, the Holocaust and mental illness are on two separate planes but having depression can erase all notions of hope and sometimes even kill the desire to survive. A common mechanism for coping with any variety of traumatic circumstances, though many won't admit it, is humor. Dark, black, morbid gallows humor. Self-depreciating humor. The kind of humor that makes people feel bad for laughing but still doesn't stop them from doing it. Because if you can't laugh at yourself and what you're going through, how can you laugh at all?

I spent a week in a psychiatric ward in 2009 and it was terrifying, restless and honestly, pretty boring. There weren't straight jackets and padded cells and no one was locked in their rooms or restrained to their beds. But no one was allowed to have shoes with laces or belts (suicide risk). We weren't allowed to have crayons or markers, either. They were legitimately concerned about Crayola graffiti on the walls. I was allowed to have one dully sharpened golf pencil so I could write in my notebook or do Sudoku puzzles. One of the guards let my mom sneak in a giant bag of Skittles for me. I guess they liked me well enough to trust I wouldn't leave sugary rainbow globs on the furniture.

I wasn't allowed to have my cell phone. There was no radio or cd player and definitely no computer. There were televisions in the dining area and hangout rooms and they always seemed to be tuned to Harry Potter marathons. I spent a lot of time reading and rereading a Michael Jackson memorial magazine and pleading with the staff to order me a pizza.

I made friends with another girl there named Emily. We did a lot of pacing up and down the long hallway and talking about our experiences that had lead us to this crazytopia. Often, a guy named Craig would be sitting out in the hallway. He had anger management issues and was a giant pain in the ass. So Emily and I would be walking up and down the hallway and start talking about going to our rooms to get cigarettes whenever we passed Craig. When we reached the end of the hall and turned back, we'd pass him again and he'd offer us a quarter for a cigarette.

"What are you talking about, Craig? We don't smoke. And you can't smoke in here anyway, it's a hospital."

With that, we'd be on our way, leaving him with a dumbfounded look on his face. And whatever medication he was on must have been strong because he'd forget about it and we'd do the same thing a half hour later.

Maybe a little mean, but the guy also called me a cunt. So I don't feel bad. And it's still not as bad as when Emily told an old paranoid guy that the hospital staff was listening in on his phone calls (which was totally untrue and would be completely illegal for them to do anyway). I can only imagine the hilarity that ensued from that.

The point is, it was a crappy week that was the result of a crappy situation but I found ways to make the best of it and I can laugh and joke about it. The woman who got a hold of lipstick and used it as blush and eye shadow. The woman who offered to take me to Applebee's when we got out if I'd drive her to a drug house in return. The guy who collected styrofoam cups because he refused to pee in the toilet. These are really fucked up and also really funny if you look for the humor in them. And regardless of who you are or what you've experienced, I'm sure there are situations in your life where this can be applied.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." - Ian Maclaren

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