By J.R. (Randy) Broadwater
Depression is a tricky bastard to live with. Like the Borg, the cyborg baddies first introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, it adapts to whatever you use to combat it. I’ve learned this first-hand, the hard way. I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t struggled with depression. It has been such a constant in my life that it became my default setting. It was, for a very long time, my “normal”.
The severity of the depression would ebb and flow, and at it’s worst it became a black hole that transported me to “suicidal town” if I let myself drift too far into the vortex. For decades I’d combat these bouts of severe depression in the typical way that most geeks like myself do – throw shit at it until the void is temporarily filled: movies, TV shows, video games, comics, novels. Anything to escape reality. That would work for a while, but then the depression would adapt, and it wouldn’t be as effective. Next came food. Eat those feelings, boy! Then it was buying stuff. Every time the new tactic would help, but it’d become more and more ineffectual each time it’s used.
Pretty soon I’d lose interest in those shows, and movies, and games. I’d have to psych myself up to even bother to turn something on. I’d go from reading several novels a week to one a month. Maybe. My to-read comic pile would become monstrous. I’d be hungry, but nothing I’d think of eating would really sound good. The depression was adapting. I’d become irritable. I’d crawl into myself. I’d become even more anti-social than I already tend to be. Pretty soon I’d start to feel like resistance was futile, and I should just let the black hole claim me.
Then I finally accepted the fact that I couldn’t manage it on my own, and I sought professional help. I found a medication that worked (for me, it was Prozac), and for the first time that I could remember that oppressive weight of depression that I never consciously realized that I always carried, was gone. I felt lighter. I felt happy. It worked! I was finally free!
But, like the Borg, it adapted.
The medication worked great for about a year, but then my old enemy came back. Slowly at first, like an invading army probing my defenses. Then it’d get stronger, and stronger. I started to feel the tug of that black hole again. Those suicidal thoughts would start to crop up more and more. They didn’t have the impulse behind them, not yet, but I knew that was coming. So, I talked to my doctor and upped my dose. Pandora was shoved back into its box…for a while. This week the probing from that old foe started up in earnest again. It helps that I know exactly what it is. I know this enemy. I know what I can do to keep it at bay. I also now know that it’s not an enemy I’ll ever truly defeat. It’s a part of me, and it always will be. I have to accept that.
That said, I also know it’s a battle that I’ll never have to fight alone. I have friends, family, medical doctors, all there with me, helping me to keep that part of me in check. Of course, I also have all those geeky things that bring me joy and grant me an escape. The key is to remember that resistance isn’t futile. It’s necessary. It can be absolutely be exhausting, but it’s never futile. Whenever I start to feel like it is, I always picture Steve Rodgers, bleeding from his mouth, worn out and on the ropes, struggling to his feet, putting up his hands, and saying “I can do this all day.”
So can you.
You’re not in this alone. None of us are. That’s why this community, and others like it, is so important. You may not have a close relationship with your family. You may not have a ton of friends. You will always have others in the community here that will be there, that can understand where you’re coming from and what you’re dealing with. It may never totally go away, but I promise you, it can be managed.
Resistance isn’t futile.