I see every now and then, other Facebook friends that battle with depression, and as someone in their 30’s, who has fought with this since a teenager. I can give some advice. No, I’m not a therapist. I’m not pretending to be, but maybe sharing my routine when the darkness hits will help others.
First, you have to know yourself. Its very difficult for people like us, because we are constantly bouncing between needing company, or validation, while also needing distance, but at some point you have to sit down with yourself. Make a list of movies, authors, books, poems.. that are you.
For me there are the Godfather, The Warriors, KIDS, Led Zeppelin live albums. And understand.. they aren’t to cheer me up. They are reminders of who I am, they are reminders of how my brain works when I’m healthy. They are like a mental life preserver. Think about any movie where a child is lost in another dimension and their mothers voice leads them to the light. That is ‘Mo Better Blues for me. I find its important to make a list of non chemical stimulants to jump start your brain into working correctly.
With my life preservers in place, I go as far into the darkness as my rope can take me and wallow there. I give my self a night to swim as deep into the darkness as I can. Now.. mind you, I don’t have any alcohol at the house or drugs. So, I’m describing going there in your imagination. Imagine the fall, imagine the dirt, imagine the forest. For me, its important to get every terrible thought I can come up with, on the darkest night.. cause if I’m not going to do the deed tonight, then i have to wake up tomorrow.. so swim off into the deep all you want.. until the sun comes up.
I also find that accomplishing something, anything, is healthy. It doesn’t matter how small. Pick your socks off the floor, clean the toilet, wash your clothes and fold them. Not as a chore, but to enjoy the feeling of starting and finishing something. Finishing something reminds your brain of its purpose. I’m sure there is some chemical reaction behind it, but starting a project no matter how small, and finishing it definitely helps.
Change your environment. This doesn’t mean go on a long road trip. Just stand between four walls that you normally don’t, drive down a street you normally don’t drive. I reserve Trevillian between Bardstown Road and Newburg for my bouts of depression. I never drive down it unless I feel the darkness coming on. Something about that 7 minute drive does something for me. For anyone else.. I would say pick a park, a store, a street that gives you a jolt. Or better yet, don’t. Keep track of areas in the city, or buildings you have never wandered into, or streets you have never driven down and mentally ear mark them for your dark periods. Just the feeling of being somewhere you normally aren’t does something for the chemicals in your brain as well.
Last thing: talk to someone you normally don’t speak to. Social media is great for this. And I’ve made a lot of friends via this method and most don’t know it. The difficult part is NOT talking about your depression; anything in the world but. Hit someone that commented on one of your threads you don’t know and strike up a conversation about the color red. Just like standing somewhere new, accomplishing something small, you are trying to remind your brain that the small things matter.
Healthy people somehow are able to do this with their brain without thinking about it. Their brains know how to remind itself of its purpose without assistance; ours don’t. And yes, therapy and medical attention are important, but at some point you and your brain have to learn to live together, I hope that these tips can help others find a start at least to swimming to the other side.
JaWon Dunn is a long time staple of the hip-hop community, operating under the name Chuck MF Deuce as a member of Skyscraper Stereo, a helluva guitarist. This was originally a Facebook post, and has been edited for clarity and grammar, but remains largely as is, which is advice on what works for him. If you suffer from depression, know that you’re not alone, and that there are people out there just like you who want to help.