Listen. Sometimes depression is just a thing you have. Sometimes it ain’t going anywhere.
You can do all the work and troubleshooting, putting in effort and doing what you should with nutrition, exercise, sleep habits, gratitude, mindfulness, therapy, medication, and so on, and still… you know, have depression. Still have a depressive day, week, year, life.
It can be exhausting perpetually viewing yourself as standing on this hamster wheel where it seems like if you’d only run fast enough, you’d reach, what, normalcy? Basic functionality? See, the “basic” stuff other people seem to do easily — things like putting together a home-cooked meal, doing laundry, taking care of hygiene — can feel pretty difficult sometimes. Even just getting out of bed can be that way, let alone badass activist shit like community organizing or reading theory. (I see that pile of books. Don’t worry, you’ll get to it.) Challenges stack, too. Life, in all its roaring beauty, makes itself known: going to an exploitative day job, doing schoolwork, caring for loved ones, dating and seeing if there’s a partner out there for you, navigating medical conditions, working through trauma, chasing personal goals, being creative, finding meaning in all this. I mean, damn.
The trick with some of the healthy habits is that, while they’re intended to help with depression, depression is what makes a lot of them difficult to do in the first place. Ain’t that some shit.
And what you don’t see enough of is loving spaces, even digital spaces like this one, where communities let depressed people know that we accept you, love you, and support you without judgment. That we don’t somehow view a person with depression as a defective human who needs to stop feeling depressed to feel whole.
You are one whose insights, interpretations, and expressions of existence hold plenty of merit regardless of how well they gel with the shitty frameworks of value in a society that has normalized labor exploitation, mindless grind culture, and the fetishization of self-destruction.
I know you’re tired. Tired of viewing yourself as on a perpetual journey toward the sole goal of ‘not being depressed’ because, even from a purely pragmatic point of view, it’s not obvious that will be the case, and so-called ‘progress’ with this sort of thing is never linear. And beyond that, you know that if the world were better structured, folks might have an entirely different opinion toward the condition. See, in this dystopian capitalist hellscape, it’s repeatedly reinforced that the optimal human is able-bodied and neurotypical, and we’re conditioned to believe that if we diverge from that, we are of less value.
Man, fuck that.
Depression is one part of the human condition, and you are not less human for experiencing it. You are a different kind of human than the one typically occupying center stage in this ruinous culture. That’s a them problem. You are one whose insights, interpretations, and expressions of existence hold plenty of merit regardless of how well they gel with the shitty frameworks of value in a society that has normalized labor exploitation, mindless grind culture, and the fetishization of self-destruction. A society that horrifically regards rest as a mere afterthought rather than central to human dignity. A society that embraces commodity over spirit and relentlessly conditions people to believe they are never doing enough. Loving yourself means stepping off that hamster wheel and escaping the rat race of productivity for productivity’s sake. You are not here to be useful to capitalists. You are here to love yourself and to love your friends and family for no other reason than your shared humanity.
Being depressed doesn’t stop you from caring about yourself even if it sometimes makes it hard to choose the most optimally healthy, therapist-approved option. Being depressed doesn’t stop you from loving your friends and family even if it might make it hard for you to reply promptly or return a call. It doesn’t stop you from being a good revolutionary even if you sometimes can’t find the spoons to dive into theory. It sure as hell doesn’t stop you from being a great writer even if your words are sometimes heavy, and with them, you might paint darker images of life.
Blossoming from that last note, notice the ways depression has textured your life with beauty. Your experiences have made you a more compassionate person and have helped you with perspective-taking when others are relating their hardships to you. You feel a kind of solidarity with the oppressed on a level that is in some real way unattainable to those that don’t know the same character of experience. Humanizing people who are struggling is central to the revolutionary spirit, which makes your conscious experience the product of a strange and poetic sort of inverted privilege. Think of the many times you found yourself not envying those whose lives are comparatively easy, those who were ushered toward political and moral worldviews that overlook needless suffering, those who dismiss real efforts toward change as utopian thinking. You wouldn’t trade places with them in a million years. You know that.
Listen, self, I don’t mean to simply romanticize depression. There are many times where this character of experience feels like a boulder on your back, a boot on your throat, an ominous cloud that blots out the sun, a veil over all that is good. Trust me, being you, I get it.
But in reflection, I find that a lot of the struggle you face is beyond your mind, your wonderful, pained mind, and is pushed on you by external forces. This is where goodhearted people are especially empowered to relieve each other’s burdens. The central problem is not people with depression, it’s a society ill-structured to accommodate such people, one that makes it hard for them to thrive. A society whose flaws cause a lot of depression in the first place only to turn around and instill a culture that makes people feel bad about it. In this upside-down world, individuals are told to carry the burden of systemic shortcomings. They’re told that the key to a good life is a machine-like fixation on productivity and that any deviation from this is a personal failure. It’s all fucking nonsense, and loving yourself in the face of this is a revolutionary act.
Know that you are already all that you need to be. You are already doing enough. Keep making people feel seen and heard. Keep giving a voice to the downtrodden. Keep speaking out for marginalized communities. And when you feel lonely in the journey, know that I see you. I love you, and I’m proud of you. Sip a little water and stretch, my guy.
The day is yours.