E. Winter Tashlin

Depression: January in Spring [Picture Tells A Story]

Filed By E. Winter Tashlin | April 25, 2015 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: depression, landscape photography, mental health, mental health issues, PTAS, sunset

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Today's Picture Tells A Story started out with an email to John and Bil, explaining that there wasn't going to be a PTAS today. My head has been in a bad way lately, and I simply did not have the wherewithal to come up with a suitable post.

But when all is said and done, that was a cop-out.

It's strange, but while there have been a number of posts for Bilerico, including a previous PTAS, in which I wrote openly about the experience of living with Tourette Syndrome, I'm deeply hesitant to discuss having significant depression and anxiety. Part of that of course, is that for many readers TS is sensational and bizarre, while depression is mundane and... depressing.

I have struggled with clinical depression most of my life, longer even perhaps than with Tourette. The particular ways it affects me are too personal to share publicly, which is interesting given that I've spent nearly a decade talking professionally about unbelievably personal matters pertaining to sexuality. Even though intellectually, I know that depression is a medical issue, in its own way no different than the Tourette, I can not seem to escape feeling ashamed of myself for not "defeating" it somehow.

It is quite easy to pick that apart and lay bare the underlying fallacy behind those feelings. I've done exactly that many times when people close to me were describing their own relationships with depression and related mental health challenges. But knowing and feeling are quite different things.

It isn't just being told from time to time that I should simply "stop being depressed." I know that is bullshit, and that it is as absurd as when people tell me that I should "stop having Tourette" or "try not ticking." In fact, I hear the line about the Tourette far more often than about depression, although that may be because TS is a hell of a lot more apparent to random passersby. Rather I think there's something about not being able to master my own mind that leaves me feeling as if I've failed at some key element of life or adulthood. That due to the Tourette, my body is so far outside of my control compared to most people only compounds things.

Spring is a hard time to be depressed. In the dark heart of a northern winter, being miserable makes sense in a contextual sort of way. There's little sunshine, and the world outside literally exists in grayscale. Now though, spring has brought back sun and warmth to the world; except inside my heart and head, it still feels like January.

Dealing with depression takes work and energy, things that don't tend to be abundant when one is severely depressed. A bottle full of a new antidepressant medication sat in my medicine cabinet for two weeks before I felt up to giving it a shot; and while my days tend to start out with goals and a clear plan for getting them done, bedtime too often sees more disappointment and self-recrimination than accomplishment. The insidious nature of depression is such that even when I am quite productive, I find reasons to discard my victories and focus only on how I could have, should have, done better.

Nonetheless, I am trying. My doctors and I are looking at both pharmacological and behavioral intervention strategies to help me manage the depression, and whether it feels like it or not, I have been making my way through a number of personal and professional milestones.

For now though, I am just going to try to be happy that the email to John and Bil went in the trash, and there was a Picture Tells A Story today after all.


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