It’s seriously my birthday, and I’ll seriously cry if I want to. I used to love my birthday, literally reminding others an entire week in advance that my birthday was coming up. Every day, for at least a week, I’d say “My birthday is next Tuesday!” to several people. It wasn’t a ploy to get birthday presents so much as it was a way of celebrating one of my favorite days of the year. I loved January 15th, and I wanted everybody and their brother to know why. My special day needed to be fun!
In retrospect, though, I probably should have spent every January 15th pampering my mother on the anniversary of a day when she did so much work. So yeah, thanks Mom! And thanks to Daddy, too, for keeping my brother and sister out of her way so she could concentrate on getting me the hell out of her body. At this point, I would actually love to take all the attention off of me and focus it on my parents. The fact is that, as much as I appreciate my parents and all the work they put into making my birth actually happen, I’m not a big birthday fan anymore.
Today, I am 26 years old. I know that’s not very old, but I don’t think I’ve done a whole lot with these 26 years. I’ve never had a “real” job – right now, even with working three jobs, I make less than $1000 every month and I have no insurance. That probably tells you how substantial those three jobs are (or aren’t, I should say). I enjoy them, and they help me keep gas in my car and keep our lights on. They don’t help me contribute much to our household, though. I’m married to a wonderful man who is more than I could ask for in a life partner, yet I consistently feel like I’m holding him back. He says he is perfectly happy with what I currently contribute and is just glad that I don’t act like a gold digger, but there’s a piece of me that won’t let the rational part of me believe him.
See, I was blessed with a wide range of interests and abilities, most of which boil down to either my near obsession with patterns or my love of fantastical stories. In the “patterns” category, I have music (Western music theory is built around practically perfect patterns), languages (especially Spanish), puzzle-type video games, knitting, and crocheting. In the “fantastical stories” category, I have writing, story-based video games (RPGs, essentially), books, and just any old rollickin’ good story. I have other interests, too, but these are the big ones. The problem is that I can’t decide which one should be the priority in my life. Some people say “You just have to try everything, then stick with what makes you happiest.” I honestly believe that advice to a large extent when it comes to job hunting, but there is a massive, looming shadow in my life that stops me in my tracks.
I know this post seems really strange and out of place on here. “I thought this was supposed to be your special place for nerding out about video games, books, and knitting,” you say. “Why are you complaining about your birthday and how crappy you think your life is?” Good question. However, my birthday hatred has everything to do with this blog. Have you noticed how this is the first thing I’ve posted in a month? If you are one of my few faithful readers – and there really are very few of you – you might have realized that I regularly go months without blogging at all. There’s a reason for that. That reason is depression.
Today, I have tried to hide my birthday from the world. I’ve been sullen and listless, contemplating all the ways in which I feel I’ve failed. I went to work for a little while at the bookstore and didn’t even tell my boss that it’s my birthday. But, through all of this, I finally realized the depth to which my depression has held me back. See, I can have days, sometimes even weeks, of feeling good. I feel confident. I get excited to try something new, write some more, make more stuff for my Etsy shop, maybe even look for a more substantial job. I start to think that I can finally find that dream job that completes me and makes me feel like I can consider bigger things in life, like buying a house or having kids. However, before I can really get the ball rolling, I fall into another slump. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t try much of anything new because I know I’ll just lose momentum and hate myself for it in the long run.
I’ve joked before about how I’m replaced with a sad, mopey alien during these depressed slumps, and that’s pretty much the truth of the matter. The real me is hidden under all this… this shit that is the depression. What sucks more than anything is that the slumps are getting worse. During my last really bad one a few months ago, I would sit for hours and stare into space, trying not to cry. I started thinking about suicide. I wasn’t necessarily planning my suicide or choosing ways to off myself, but I did wonder what people would do if they found out I’d died. Would they care if I killed myself? Would it matter? And then, the worst one: Wouldn’t they be better off if I died? See, those who have never been severely depressed and/or suicidal don’t seem to understand that last one. Some suicidal people truly believe that their death would be a good thing, that it would remove the oppressive stink of their presence and improve life for the ones they love. I’m scared that if I don’t force myself to get over the fear of finding real help for my depression, I might not come out of my next bad slump.
Now here’s the part where I explain what all this has to do with the blog. When it comes right down to it, I won’t get anywhere with my writing (which I have done for years, and truly enjoy) unless I deal with the depression. This whole website was an awesome anniversary gift from Hubbles last year, and I want to make the most of it. I can’t do that with this cloud over me. Well, it’s less of a cloud and more of a hammer that’s steadily beating negativity into my head. I’m so sick of hearing shit like “You’ll fail, so there’s no point, anyway,” from the negativity hammer. Um, how would I know that unless I try? But, unless this one broken thing in my brain gets fixed, that one broken thing will continue to keep me from trying. It keeps me from doing so many of the things I love. If you are one of the few sillies who, for some ungodly reason, like what I write, rest assured that I’ll never write much without serious help.
So, consider this my “coming out” post. My name is Katy, and I have depression.
Tonight, I will celebrate my birthday by discussing all of this with Hubbles. If we can find some help in fixing the broken part of my brain, maybe I’ll stop stagnating. Maybe I’ll find the best job in the world. Maybe I’ll write some halfway decent stuff around here. Maybe I’ll move on and feel like a real grown-up for once. Maybe I’ll be happy and content with my life exactly the way it is right now. Maybe everything will be okay after all.
If you struggle with depression, or another “broken thing” in your brain, why don’t you give me an awesome birthday present by getting out there and getting help? If you don’t believe me when I say things can get better, believe John Scalzi. Believe Jenny Lawson. Believe Wil Wheaton. I’m ready to believe them and to start living. Because, seriously, depression lies.