I never expected the “self destruct” part of my psyche to light up once I decided what I wanted to do with my life. I know depression is something that doesn’t simply vanish after an epiphany, but I guess I figured the sense of frustration and aimlessness that I’d been dealing with would wane once I had something that I was passionate about. Earlier this year, I hit a wall. I’ve been coping with the same depression that sneaks up on me from time to time, and it’s been particularly rough lately. I do this dance between not wanting to be seen by anyone to not trusting myself to be alone.
There’s something that seems very self defeating about turning your passion into a chore. There was awhile where I was forcing myself to write, not because I had writer's block, but it had become something I simply didn’t enjoy. The cruel counterbalance to that feeling was this yearning that any creative feels that I wasn’t doing enough; not writing enough, performing enough, getting out there enough. Not only did I stop enjoying what I was doing, I felt like I sucked at doing it. Try hopping out of bed in the morning after that kind of logic.
Sure enough, after feeling run down and generally shitty about the hole I’d dug myself into, financially, emotionally, psychologically-- The suicidal feeling wrapped around me like a worn out blanket. I started thinking about where I could fit suicide into my schedule. That kind of mental gymnastics is how depression works for me; it’s not constant or all consuming. It hangs around in the background like chili farts. I do my best to pretend I don’t have them and it feels a lot like so does everyone talking to me.
I say that last part because I’m not capable of hiding it when I’m unhappy, or happy for that matter. Whatever state I’m in I tend to advertise over my head like some cheap motel; No Vacancy, I’m consumed by my own sadness. That’s part of the reason I withdraw, I don’t want people to have to deal with Sad Kira. You won’t cheer me up, I can’t pull myself out of it, the dark thoughts are on repeat.
There’s a lot of pressure in comedy (and probably most art for that matter) to be seen, to be out at the right occasion, show your interest, whatever the fuck that means. I realized that the days I walk out wearing a storm cloud as a fashion accessory might not be an impression worth making. I don’t want to be seen as a moody, sad person, even if I suppose that’s what I am, if I’m honest.
A friend of mine confided in me with the same frustrations about depression, because it doesn’t go away, it ebbs and flows. It doesn’t make it better to know that other people feel that way, but it's illuminating. Sometimes you’re caught in the deep end and there’s not a lot you can do except ride it out until the chemicals in your brain align themselves. I say that, but I should add that there’s certainly things you can do to make it easier, and likewise things (like drinking, for me at least) that can make it a hell of a lot harder.
When I felt this way last year, that suicidal impulse, I forced myself to view “I want to kill myself,” as “This is killing me.” (Read that one here). Now that the panic and depression has returned, I’ve had to face that I can’t keep doing what I’m doing. I work a day job to support myself financially, hit mics, run shows, attempt to write whatever I assume is “enough”, taking on new projects like sketches and try maintaining ones like cartoons and these articles. After writing that down I still feel incredibly dissatisfied that that’s simply “not enough things”. I don’t really know what I quantify as enough, or if I’d know it when I saw it. It’s frustrating to think you may not be capable of doing everything you idealize as what you want.
I’ve been trying not to withdraw, despite the fact it can’t “look good” to be quiet or on the verge of tears for reasons I don’t even know. That being said, I’ve also had to acknowledge that I have to slow down, rest, and not tackle on every project and obligation I so desperately want to. I’m not balancing anything at the moment, I’m starting over. Starting over one something you’ve been working on for a couple years doesn’t seem to make sense. I suppose if your approach has proven to be ineffective or self detrimental, you don’t have a lot of choice.
I'm not sure where to fit this paragraph into the flow of this article, but given the fact that more than one comedian has comitted suicide in Colorado that I know if within the past year, all I can do is urge anyone who has that feeling to reach out to someone. Even if it doesn't feel like it helps. Even if they say the wrong thing. There's hotlines you can call, which I've never done, but if you need that help just ask for it. One time at a coffee shop I used to work at, I asked this woman how she was doing she told me, "Not great. I have cancer."
20 year old baristas aren't the most skilled psychologists, but we talked for awhile, and at the end of it she thanked me and told me that when you don't give a shit about yourself it helps to know that someone else will for a little bit, even if it's just their job. I don't even know her last name, but I still think about that sometimes. I think about the people that let me sit next to them without saying anything. I think about the people I don't know how to ask if they're okay. We all want to connect to one another, the worst part about depression is that it makes it seem like you're not capable of it any more.
If you’ve read this blog before, you may know some of my crazier ideas, including the one about the Kokadrille. I’ve never felt “whole”, or even like the only occupant of my body. Also, I feel like an occupant of my body and I don’t consider myself to be my body. There’s some pros and cons to this belief but either way it’s not one I can simply concede is false, because that’s how my perception of self works. It amazes that there are people with holistic views of themselves, I can’t conceive of what that would be like. Not feeling whole is part of what keeps me going; I owe it to my body not to kill it, because it doesn’t want to die. Even if I managed to stop caring about that, the monster in my head doesn’t really like the idea of losing the body either, and goes to extremes to stop me from ending it all. I realize that’s probably one of the most insane things I’ve ever written, which is why I hate honesty. Because if I’m honest, I scare myself.
Enter the social circle. It's still tough for me to reach out to friends when I'm feeling upset and frustrated, but thankfully I have people to reach out to, I honestly don't think I could handle myself if I didn't. I've sat with friends while completely mummified by my depression, unresponsive despite their best attempts to make me feel better. I don't know if they felt like they failed, but they didn't. Having someone there when you're that low stops you from ending it. Believe it or not, you're leveling out that sad asshole who's not responding to your jokes.
I don't know if I've ever heard of someone talk about "doing (Insert form of self harm) for attention" since high school, but I think that fear lingers in the back of any major depressive's mind. You can't imagine that people can sympathize with you, in part because you're so out of your mind with sadness that you can't even sympathize with other sad people. You feel like an asshole because your friends are trying to help you and you don't feel better. You're suddenly obligated and the whole idea of them helping you has turned on its head and made you feel worse about yourself. You're afraid of losing the people you have left, who ironically are still concerned about you.
It's hard to know what to do when you're that unhappy because you also don't have a schedule for when that feeling subsides; but it will. Maybe not for as long as you'd like it to, and it might not be replaced with a reciprocal high (sometimes you go from "sad" to "meh" back to sad a few weeks later with none of that bipolar high you hear about), but you have to understand that it is temporary. Once you wrap your head around that, you have to wrap your head around accepting help from people, even if you suck at accepting it, even if they're not the best adapted at helping you.
There's this sappy sentiment you see in a lot of articles dealing with suicide that regardless of whether you know it or not, you matter to somebody. Even if you don't know them, your death will negatively impact somebody. It's hard to learn about someone who's killed themselves, because it's easy to put yourself in their shoes, walk through their decisions, and see yourself doing it, too. If feeling like I'm only one of the residents of my body has taught me anything, it's that no being fully wants to die; something wants whatever is going on to stop.
I don't know the meaning of the word "enough". I don't think we're given that as kids; we're told to work as hard as we can, and we don't know what that means or entails, what sacrifices are worthwhile and which ones aren't. We push ourselves into the ground and feel robbed when there's nothing to show for it. The only thing you'll find when you push yourself into the ground is a grave, pup. You're not showing people that you want the elusive "it" more than anyone else by killing yourself with your lifestyle. This round of depression has been another learning experience, to figure out what it means to do "enough" and let go of the idea that what I'm doing doesn't qualify.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.