Defining Depression (part 1 of 7)

This article is written by Zero Forbidden Goals and National Poetry Slam poet, AndYes.  To hear his work, and support his art and his message of love, go to AndYesPoetry.com.

Author’s note: I wrote these in 2014, during Depression episodes. They were written with the purpose of people being able to see directly what is in my head and what is going on.

During that year, I lost my job and my apartment because I became too Depressed to show up to work on time. And I attempted suicide shortly after.

The 7th entry is a month later, to-the-day.

These writings are intended for people who haven’t had Depression, and want to learn. And for those who have Depression but don’t understand it.

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Escalating Dispassion

As I’ve been looking over what Depression is like for me, I find the term doesn’t really describe what I’ve been going through.

A better way to describe it is “escalating dispassion.” Yes, it involves a certain level of sadness and despair, but those feelings tend to come from the knowledge that I care about (and can muster the strength to care about) nothing in my life for more than a day or so (to put it another way: feeling “nothing” is my emotional baseline. I experience other emotions, but everything eventually drops back to nothing).

Of course you could argue that the sadness I feel comes from a source of caring about myself (a sort-of metaphysical statement: “you care about the fact that you don’t care, which proves you care about yourself”), and from an outside perspective you’d seem to be right. But in reality, I never dwell on my dispassion for long (IE: I’m equally dispassionate about being dispassionate as I am dispassionate about my life…and yes, I do realize this is the most convoluted paragraph I’ve ever written).

Depression (at least, the way it affects me) doesn’t cause me to write sad poetry, cry into my pillow, and wish my life would be better than what it is. Depression (for me) is the constant, automatic return to feeling nothing (like I said before, it’s a baseline for my emotions – not a definition of who I am or how I always feel).

So far I’ve focused on the second word in that phrase (“dispassion”); let me clarify what I mean by the first word (“escalating”).

About 10 months ago, a friend of mine died. Whereas, when I’ve lost friends before I had cried all over the place and was generally useless, the total amount of time I cried for her was about 10 minutes (and, honestly, I’m probably overestimating that).

I definitely felt sad, don’t get me wrong, but it was almost like I couldn’t express it. I’d get to the point of almost crying, sitting in my room alone, and then – right before the tears came – it’d feel like someone opened the valve on a pressure cooker. The sadness would leak out of me and I’d be back to feeling nothing; it was all the pressure without the catharsis.

I describe my depression as “escalating dispassion”, as opposed to just “dispassion” because I can look back on my life and see that, as a kid, it was never like this. And, as my teenage years came and went, I can trace a clear line of events showing that I’ve become more and more dispassionate (I’ll spare giving a ton of examples, and just leave it at that).

When people ask me “What’s wrong?”

I’ve never known how to answer this question honestly, so I just say “nothing.”

I’m not hiding anything, when I say that. It’s a completely honest response: absolutely nothing is wrong and absolutely nothing is right…which, I suppose, means everything is wrong, but giving that answer will always sound over-dramatic to other people (as I were in a constant state of woe and my whole life were falling apart…which it’s definitely not).

But it’s not all downsides; a side-effect of being dispassionate is that you tend to be very objective, which makes me useful to people who need advice since I’m inserting very little of my personal bias into what I say. It’s not a huge “win,” but it’s something.

And I think I should point this out: my condition doesn’t make me a sociopath (everything preceding this statement could make it seem otherwise). I love my friends and I definitely am concerned with the people around me; the dispassion I feel is focused almost solely on anything involving myself (For example: in middle school, I would never do homework but always perform amazingly on group projects – which confused the hell out of more than a few teachers who had assumed I was just some slacker kid. It’s okay for me to fail by my own accord, but I refuse to be the reason why other people to fail).

So, I guess the big question is: Where does this self-centered dispassion come from?

And I’m finding, more and more, that it’s not something I can answer on my own. Just feels like it’s always been this way. Much like when science looks into the creation of the universe, at some point the only answer I can give is “that’s just the way it is.” And that’s the most asinine response a person can give.

Never stop looking for the answer

Anyone who settles for “that’s just the way it is” hasn’t honestly asked why something happens. If you can live with not having the answer, then great, but for something like Depression (that you want to change), “that’s just the way it is” should never be your conclusion (because, by not being able to ask “Why?” and honestly search for an answer, you’ll never be able to deal with the problem).

So the search continues.