About six weeks ago, I stopped taking my anti-depressants. I did not intend to. I simply realised after a few days that I had forgotten to take them and thought ‘I feel ok, so I might as well stop taking them.’ On a serious note, NEVER do this. Take it from me with every ounce of sincerity I have that stopping anti-depressants cold turkey is a dreadful idea. I have never felt worse in my life and the withdrawal effects were stunningly bad. It did end eventually and I feel good to be chemically free.
I was mostly positive over the next few weeks, partly because I knew that I did not need anti-depressants anymore and that I had chosen to give them up and face life with just the essence of me to get me by. I have really noticed how little I am willing to let people treat me badly anymore. I think this is because I am not numbed to how I actually feel without the tablets. I do need to remind myself, that I am also quicker to anger than I was previously.
After a great day yesterday, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a sudden certainty that everything was meaningless. My book, the plays I write, my life; everything. Now, as I have mentioned in a previous post, I am researching existentialism for a play. It could be this that caused the sudden existential crisis, or that by not being on tablets anymore, I am not numb to the world around me and can think clearly about what I experience or feel. I am not sure at present. I am hoping this post will help me figure a few things out.
What really troubles me is that of the four givens of existence, meaninglessness is the one I agree with the least. Perhaps this is my own defence mechanism. I do not agree that the universe has no meaning, but then again, that could simply be my own denial and coping strategy. I have learnt a lot about how my brain works in terms of depression. The biggest realization I had was that my depression levels up faster and more cunningly than my ability to deal with it. Or, it used to. I like to think I have the upper hand on it, but, depression could be waiting to sucker punch me later.
I often refer to tackling depression to playing a computer game. You start off trying to beat it and most likely, you will have to retry the first level a few times until you get the hang of the controls, what does what and most importantly, how to beat that first level. Then onto to level two. You have levelled up, got some cool new guns and better armour. As a bonus, you know from level one how depression tries to beat you, so you know what’s coming this time. In my case, this was a huge tactical error.
What I did not understand was that my depression had formed a secret alliance with my super-ego. The super-ego was supplying my depression with top secret information on things that can really get me down. This information was so secret that I was not even consciously aware of them. It was only after my victorious dance about beating level one was finished that my depression countered with ‘Ah, did I mention that in level two, I reset all the rules and I nerf you back to level one? Oh, and on level two, you are now playing a completely different game to level one.’
Starting level two was hard. It really was back to square one and all my confidence in my ability to beat depression was gone. I just had my hope that I could and my usual stubborn refusal to be beaten. It was this last attribute of my mine that actually saved, and I think it might be worth thinking about for anyone who struggles with depression. My depression made me angry. It cheated in the game and I hate cheating. I was angry, but not at the world, or the people I love or people I pass in the street; I was furious at my depression. I was sick of its hold on me and the sense of smugness from it that I would never beat it.
I honestly suggest this to anyone the next time they feel down. Find a way to visualise your depression; once you have an image, and any image will do, tell it to go fuck itself. You have nothing to fear. Depression preys on weakness. When you start to fight back, it needs to find other ways if regaining control. Then when it tries those ideas to bring you down, kick it in the nuts as hard as you can. I will be honest; depression will try every dirty trick in the book, and few that are not in the book, but if you can weather all that, eventually, it has nothing left to throw at you. And each level you pass, you get stronger and it gets weaker. Remember that. It can be beaten. Once beaten, it can be controlled.
So, this brings me back to the post topic. How do I exit an existential crisis and not leave open a door for depression to sneak back in through? I think the only thing I can do, is create or find meaning in my life. If the universe is meaningless, then I am up for creating some money. Why does it have to be meaningless for ever? And even if I am just plain wrong, I don’t care. I don’t think anyone else can define or make us feel a certain way about our existence or what we do with it because each of our existences are unique to us.
I might be right or wrong about all of this. Time will tell either way. I can still keep ahead of the game though. I am now off to do the most positive and meaningful thing I can think of. I am going to meet a new born baby and welcome it to the world.
Suck on that depression.
Take care buddies,