Big D

person walking down road
Photo by Tegan Mierle.

This time Big D doesn’t stand for Dan, it stands for the other thing.

It wasn’t until well into adulthood that I began to put all the clues together. By the time I was in my late thirties I knew I was dealing with some form of depression but it took me a while to realize how long it had been with me.

As I began to reflect more purposefully about what was happening with my brain and my life in general, it became clearer that I had been dealing with this malevolence for most of my life. It’s pretty easy to diagnose that you are depressed when the symptoms are, “Can’t get out of bed,” or you have thoughts like “I don’t really care if I’m alive anymore.” It’s a bit different if you’ve been low-grade anxious for several decades but you continued to function. I’ve experienced a wide range of this spectrum. Others have it much worse.

I won’t go into a long analysis about what causes it and where it comes from; how it fools us into thinking it’s a personal failing we can overcome with strength of will. Much has already been said about that, and much better than I can say it. Maybe for some people, strength of will is enough.

I will say that for me, spending so much of my life-energy fighting depression has had its cost. A smaller life than the one I had envisioned for myself. A sidecar of anger attached to my emotional well-being. Relationships affected. Decisions poorly made. People treated poorly. Not to mention all of the time lost to anxiety induced mental paralysis.

Well, I can’t blame everything on depression. A lot of times I’ve just been an ass. For those moments I can only apologize and ask forgiveness.

So wow, this is depressing. I have actually experienced moments of great joy in my life, lots of them. This just happens to be about those other moments.

There is something I want to communicate to anyone who might identify with what I’m saying. One little morsel of truth about how you deal with the struggle. The effectiveness of all the advice and guidance and medication you get from professionals (and you must get advice and guidance and medication if you need it) hinges on this idea.

You have to move.

Depression is trying to kill you by descending you into chaos.

Entropy is defined as the measure of a system’s energy…that is unavailable for doing useful work. Depression is entropy winning.

“Movement is agency and agency is the enemy of depression.”

If you move, you are the actor not the reactor. You are taking a literal step away from the abyss.

This might seem a lot to ask given that when depression is really having its way with you, stasis seems like the most appealing tactic. You want to avoid exposure to fear. You want to put doubt behind a wall of sleep.

It is a lot to ask. This fucker has its foot on your neck and it’s heavy. That’s why you do the simplest thing you can do that isn’t giving up. You move.

You move to put your feet on the floor next to your bed.
You move from the bedroom to the living room.
You move from the living room to the porch.
You move from the porch to a shamble around the block.

You don’t solve. You don’t fix. You don’t overcome. You just move. Let your body help your mind. Your body will recognize the effort and do some things to support it.

Sometimes after I go for my daily walk I realize I’ve resolved something, but only sometimes. The moving isn’t for fixing your problems, it’s for putting you in a place to have a fighting chance.

There are people who care about your fight against entropy. I do. They often don’t know how to help. They may try to fix, and to solve, and to reason, and to understand. Tell them this: “When you see me struggling, help me move.”

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