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Depression: Tearing Away at my Entire Being

By: Miki

I am over a year and a half into my most recent major depressive episode… if it can even be called an “episode” anymore. It’s more like an entire season, or a movie, but one so long that it would have needed two DVDs at minimum – when they were still relevant, at least. Any sanity I feel I have left is fading day-by-day, as the monotony, tediousness, and utter exhaustion tear away at every fiber of my very being.

My body aches with fatigue. My head is spinning out of control. My mind is devoid of emotion, while my heart is overwhelmed with too much of it. I am hardly capable of showing love, empathy, or care for other human beings, despite my longing to be able to. It seems as though any effort I have left can, and should, be put only towards my own well-being, as I won’t ever be able to help others, or myself, again if I am dead.

The thought of dying haunts every second of every day for me as the thought of staying alive becomes seemingly more and more brutal. This deep, dark pit of depression is sucking the life and soul out of me, and I have no idea when, or if, it will end. Will it end? For fuck’s sake, please let it end.

Sometimes the only thing that can ground me, the only thing that can beat back the monsters in my head, if only for a little while, is writing. So, here I am, writing at 1:49am, when the reason I am even still awake eludes me. Every inch of my body is screaming at me to sleep, but my mind doesn’t seem to know how to just shut the fuck up.

Depression can be hard for others to talk about. Those who personally struggle with it, those who see loved ones struggle with it, and those who have absolutely no understanding of it. Even I don’t understand it most of the time, but talking about it, or writing about it, helps me to gather my thoughts in a way that I never can when I let myself get lost inside of my own head.

So, I write. I write for me, but I also hope that someone else will benefit from it in some way. Whether it be a friend, acquaintance, or even a complete stranger. This illness is often a lonely one, even for those surrounded by friends, support, and love. It’s lonely because you feel like no one else in the world could possibly understand what you are going through. And, you’re right.

It’s different for everyone. No person struggles in the same exact way as another. The emotions, or emptiness; the pain, or numbness; the feelings of wanting to die, or wanting to live; the way we cope, or attempt to cope… it’s unique to all of us.

But the one thing that is the same about us is that we’re fighting this, as best we can. Even if that means just getting out of bed in the morning, or taking a shower every week, or two, or three… or going out for a short walk. We’re doing our best, and that’s all we can do.

Just remember: 'It’s ok if the only thing you did today was to remember to breathe.'

This article has been reposted with permission. To see the original post, click here. To see more of Miki's work, visit her website at: www.mikitakesphotos.com


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How to Weep in Public - Q&A with Comedian Jacqueline Novak
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Jacqueline Novak is a comedian and long time sufferer of depression whose stand up comedy has been featured on The Late Late Show with James Corden and Comedy Central. Her book How to Weep in Public is not a how-to guide on how to escape depression. Instead, Jacqueline's book is like a hand to hold when stuck in the dark; a friend when life is grim.

Jacqueline has given Depression Army the wonderful opportunity to interview her, just in time to pick up her book on sale. The sale ends on October 1st. Visit her website to see a sample of the book, and follow her on twitter at @JacquelineNovak or Instagram @jacnov.

Below is our Q&A!

So for starters, talk to me a bit about your history with depression. How old were you when it first started, and how did you cope with it?

I started dealing with depression in high school. I would come home and sleep, or go to the nurse's office and sleep. I would feel like I had to flop down on the ground, and I'd lie there, listing off in my head all the reasons I had *no* reason to feel bad, but still feel unable to get up.

I've often heard about the mental health challenges associated with being a comedian, yet your book is colored with humor. Do you feel comedy has helped you cope better?

I don't think comedy causes depression or anything - I actually think it's a pretty great community to be in if you're struggling with really anything. Comedians are very into honesty and are usually pretty open minded. So at least among comedians, I never feel like I have to put on a facade of normalcy in any way. 

Photo by Mindy Tucker

Photo by Mindy Tucker

How did you become a comedian, and how did that influence both your depression and your book? Why did you want to write a funny book about depression?

I always loved to write and perform and those two things came together in stand-up. Getting yourself to a show and onto a stage is a major challenge when depressed, but so is going anywhere and doing anything. So in a way I think I decided, if I'm going to do all this work to get somewhere, it might as well be to do something I think is really cool. When everything's hard, a traditionally hard thing isn't even that much harder than anything else. Strange depression loophole maybe.

What is your favorite part of your book? What do you want to tell potential buyers the most? 

Someone messaged me and said the book felt like a friend. That's my main goal. To keep the depressed reader comfy, make them feel less alone, and make them feel like even though they're in this state of isolation or feeling worthless, that they're not, that it will pass. My main goal was to not pressure the reader to feel better or take a walk or anything. But to tell them, it's ok if today, tomorrow, you do absolutely nothing. It's ok even if you're not ok.  No need to be depressed about being depressed. I try to lift that secondary burden. 

For a fun hypothetical, what would you tell the you prior to writing your book about your life now, and what might she say back?

Well, it's funny. I started writing the book from the perspective that my depression was hopefully temporary. The book was a way of saying to myself, "I'm depressed now, but I won't always be. I'll write from this state honestly, and later, when I'm not depressed, I hope, this will have value as authentic."

About Jacqueline

Photo by: Mindy Tucker

Photo by: Mindy Tucker

In 2016, Jacqueline made her network debut on The Late Late Show with James Corden, shot The Half Hour special for Comedy Central, and released her first book HOW TO WEEP IN PUBLIC: Feeble Offerings on Depression from One Who Knows. Jacqueline was named a 2015 Comedy Central Comic to Watch and 2016 Just for Laughs New Face, appeared on Animals on HBO, The Characters on Netflix, and starred in her own Refinery29 series How to Weep in Public, directed by John Early. Jacqueline just released a second book, WEDDICULOUS, a collaboration with comedian Jamie Lee. This fall she's touring clubs and theaters, opening for Mike Birbiglia. 

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Review: Code of the Extraordinary Mind
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WHAT IS THIS BOOK?

CEM is a passionate self-help book that offers a road map for radical individualism. Written by Vishen Lakhiani (trained as a computer engineer and now a personal growth entrepreneur), CEM offers a series of “laws” designed to help a person break free from the limits of their culture and education, to replace outmoded ideas with better beliefs and habits, and to become happy in the now, while setting heartfelt goals that amplify future happiness. The book is also an autobiographic journey tracking how the author came to believe these laws (he experienced a series of failures that led ultimately to successes).

WHY SHOULD YOU READ IT?

So many people who are depressed are stuck. Being stuck means losing vision, hope, goals, and the energy to pursue goals. While CEM has appeal for anyone interested in self-improvement, it's particularly relevant to the DA audience as a book for getting a person unstuck.

The premise of CEM is that there's value in rebuilding your life from the ground up. A first step is to question your views and beliefs. CEM provides tools to take a deep dive into virtually everything you might think you know about how the world works— about love, education, spirituality, work, happiness or love — and sort out which beliefs you're following out of drift — what he calls Brules (short for bullsh*t rules). Brules get passed unthinkingly from generation to generation. You shouldn't follow Brules. You should only follow beliefs that are authentically yours.

Using the extended analogy of hardware and software upgrades, Lakhiani helps the reader see how his/her particular background may have programmed beliefs and habits. He makes the excellent point that while we rush to upgrade to the latest devices and systems updates for our new phone or computer, we rarely give the same attention to upgrading our own models of reality and systems for living. Upgrading habits and routines may sound like an abstract proposition, but CEM makes this enterprise surprisingly concrete and practical: Each concept is illustrated with stories from Lakhiani's life or snippets from entertaining interviews with eminent non-conformists.

The book is bold, but this does not mean all the ideas in CEM are original. In considering how people upgrade their lives, many of his "transcendent practices"  are likely familiar from other self-help books—gratitude, forgiveness, self-love, positive visualization, and the ability to see failure and difficult times as opportunities for growth. Despite this overlap, CEM still feels like an original synthesis, spoken in a unique voice.

CEM is clearly written and well structured. The 10 laws provide signposts throughout, and the text is peppered with straightforward 'exercises' to reinforce understanding. And if you want more of anything, don't worry; there is much more on-line on an elaborate companion website.  If you zone out during any of his lessons, don't worry. Lakhiani is a good teacher; he has a recap chapter at the end to help drive home all the major points.

To give you a little bit of the flavor for his teachings, here are some select quotes from CEM.

"The key to being extraordinary is knowing what rules to follow and what rules to break." 

"Culture isn't static. It lives and breathes

"The brules [ bulls*it rules ] of the father should not be passed to the son."

"You're choosing what to believe, and your life is yours to control."

"Giving is a powerful system for bringing bliss into your life."

"Your true greatness comes when you focus not on building a career but on finding your quest"

ANY NEGATIVES?

The author is proud, intensely passionate, and enthusiastic about his journey and his message. CEM strikes an evangelical tone, which some readers might find grandiose. There might be one too many anecdotes about his famous friends (including Arianna Huffington, Elon Musk, and Ken Wilber). However indulgent, the stories do serve the book.

OVERALL

A vital self-help book for charting a new course in life.

HOW TO GET IT

Links to buy the book in the USACanadaUKFranceGermanyItaly, and Spain.


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