There are times where my depression can hit hard and come up from (seemingly) nowhere. I know there are things I do not entirely grasp which cause it to come about at times, but I do not yet know what it is (diet, perhaps?). Not knowing the cause has not been the primary issue of how I treat these surprise bouts of melancholy. What has been a very backwards and, frankly, embarrassing concern is how very welcoming I am towards it. Perhaps I personify it, deep down, and treat it like an old friend who knocks on the door unannounced? Maybe I just don’t know how to handle its arrival in any other way? Or maybe I want to be swallowed up by it, to be sunk back into my grief, so that I can use it as a tool for some kind of arbitrary social entertainment?
Of the three, it is shameful that I know it is the last option. If I were to personify my sadness and treat it like a person, at least I could label that as a coping mechanism or as some type of insanity. If I didn’t know how to fight it off, at least I would have the opportunity to learn how to do so. However, I do have other means to cope, I am not crazy, and I do have the will to fight it. I have prevented myself from getting caught by the sadness before, usually by distracting myself with work, exercising, finding time to spend with a friend, etc. These are actions that are almost always at my disposal, so it seems absurd to just let myself become depressed, doesn’t it?
When I find myself in this state, where my body has the capacity to do what I ought to be doing for the sake of my health, but my mind urges me towards the bed, I know that I can find a way out of it. So why don’t I? Simply put, I want a pity party. I want a reminder that people will acknowledge the problem that I have, will send me their love, will empathize and show concern, will appreciate me and recognize my vulnerability. It feels nice, it is a reassurance that I have people who care about me, and it is something that I have craved throughout my life.
As a child, I remember getting sick, injured, or heartbroken (in the way a child gets heartbroken, when a video game isn’t released or when they drop their candy in the mud), and receiving a sort of consolation for it all. Whether from my family, friends, or teachers, I got a certain amount of love sent my way. I hurt, they loved, and I felt better. That is how it should work, right?
The problem arises from the fact that I enjoy feeling their sympathy more than I hate feeling the pain.
I do not remember how many times I have found ways to turn a situation into a one which has me in the role of victim. I always had bad luck, got injured, came down with illness, and in turn always had a gentle embrace from a sympathizer telling me “It is okay! These tragedies are terrible, you are so strong for facing them! You are loved and we will always pick you up!”. I do not doubt that some of them knew when I had serious pain, or when I was simply playing it up.
As I matured, this act was somewhat abandoned. I found more joy in focusing on self-improvement rather than in having people tell me good things about me. I feel that I am more capable alone in dealing with some of my everyday problems and I no longer require the love from sympathy. However, my depression cannot be easily dealt with alone. I need the support for that, I find myself in very dire situations without the help. Not only that, but my new joy gained from self-improvement is halted completely by the sadness, as it throws me in bed and tears apart the progress and productivity I make. In order to escape it, I need help, and this usually comes in the form of medicine, therapy, or friends. I am thankful for all of it, but it has drawbacks. When I lose the joy I gain from my self-improvement, where my accomplishments in work or school no longer seem to matter at all, I easily return to the unhealthy love of pity. I get the urge, once again, to say “Woe is me! How the world has struck me down! What unfairness, what tragedy!” and let the pity party commence.
A surprise moment of sadness usually comes around shortly, maybe just for a day, but even for such a short duration, I still find myself letting it sink its teeth deep in me! Why do I want the pity party so bad? It contradicts with everything that I want myself to be, which is independent of a need for validation or the emotional responses of others. I do not want to have to find a joy in the sympathies of others, but I do so anyway!
Maybe I just have to grow out of it.