A conversation between Health and Depression:
“Hello Health, I’m Depression. We may have met in passing before. I’m sure some of your friends know me well. But don’t worry, if we haven’t met, at some point we may cross paths. I like to meet new people, and I really like keeping up with those that I’ve grown to know well over time. Very few things make me happier than bringing a dark cloud over your life. In fact, if I really work hard at it, I can make you not want to get out of bed, miss work, or even make you consider ending your life altogether. I have a lot of power over you, and I love it.
I’m here to make you miserable. And the more miserable you get, the happier and more satisfied I become. I can take away your morale, motivation, happiness, and hope, and when I can do that to you, I sit back and smile. I especially like it when you don’t fight back. It makes my job a lot easier. I can completely control you with very little effort. The best part: I’m invisible. So you may not even fully know when you’re dealing with me. It sometimes takes people being in bed for a few days, or not wanting to cook, or shower, or work for a week before realizing that I’m there. Some people deal with me on and off for years before realizing that I’m in their lives, checking in on them from time to time. In conclusion, Health, I run the show. I own you.
“Hello Depression, this is Health, responding to your asinine letter. Let me start by telling you that, contrary to what you may believe, you are NOT invincible (nor are you invisible, as I’ve seen your ugliness)! I’ve defeated you before, and I’m now prepared to defeat you any time you show up. Sure, when I first met you, I didn’t quite understand how to deal with you, and you beat me down. You got into my head, and you made me see the world from a whole different, warped perspective. At first, I did think you were invincible, and it took me a long time to admit to myself that you could be beat. I always found a way to make an excuse for why I had to deal with you and your devilish ways. In fact, I used to actually get angry and tell people they didn’t understand when they would suggest that I could beat you. I now wish I was able to fully see how I had the power to do more than I really believed at the time.
I’ve learned over time that, with you, I just can’t back down. I’ve learned that you can battle, intimidate, and throw things at me, but that you get scared and start to break if I persist in fighting you and focus on ways to overcome what you throw at me. I’ve learned that you’re just a bully. You thrive on hurting people and beating people down. And I’ve figured out how to beat a bully like you. Sure I could try to run away, but I never felt comfortable looking over my shoulder with you chasing me. So I decided to take you head on, and that’s when I discovered how beatable you really are.
I first started realizing you were beatable when I couldn’t get out of bed for three days, was calling in sick at work, and was barely eating anything. Then I decided I’d had enough of you sitting there laughing at me, feeling all smug and superior, trying to make me believe I was weak. I decided to say “F*** you, Depression”, and I pushed with any amount of strength I could muster from deep within me, and I climbed out of bed.
I’ll never forget that feeling. Even standing up had been difficult. But I got up, made my bed, took a shower, ate a bowl of cereal, brushed my teeth, put my clothes on, and I went straight to work. Oh sure, it wasn’t THAT easy. I didn’t feel happy suddenly, but I at least felt like I was alive again. I still felt you trying to push me back, intimidating and antagonizing me like a bully does when trying to pick a fight with someone who’s just trying to walk around them. But I noticed that the less I paid attention to your pushing and kept walking around you, the more you lost interest in me. You even pushed me to the ground a couple of times, but each time I got back up, you lost more interest.
So I decided to go with it. I fell into my own routine, and I even started to have some fun here and there — pushing myself to go out with friends instead of finding reasons to stay home or turn down invites, giving myself a time limit on the computer and phone, and finding ways to get off the couch and get outside. I’ll never forget the look on your ugly face when I ignored you and just went about my business. You looked completely defeated and stunned. You turned around, and walked away. I finally felt free. For the first time, I felt in control of my own life and my own destiny.
Oh, I know there’s still the threat of you looking my way again. And I notice that you come visit from time to time, seeing how far you can get with me. And for that reason, I continue to talk about you to my therapist. That’s right, I take you very seriously, because I realize that you can damage me and my life if I don’t. I understand that you’re there for a reason and that your presence in my life has a history to it, whether or not I like it. But the more I understand you, and the more I don’t let you scare or rule me, the more you become a non-factor in my life.
I hope I never see you again, Depression, but I’m smarter than that now. I’m ready for you if you come looking for trouble.