Stop giving a damn!

This morning, I counted how many days it’s been since I last wrote something.

Six days.

Six long days where I was unable to write.

At first, I wondered if I’ve had writer’s block. But, no. I’ve had so many ideas for blog posts lately that my brain can hardly juggle them all. No, writer’s block isn’t the problem.

The problem is that I started giving a damn.

Like most people, I spent the majority of my life giving a damn what people thought about me. I wanted to be liked. I wanted to be accepted. I wanted people to believe that I had social skills (however untrue that may be).

Then, right before my senior year of high school, I broke off an abusive relationship and sunk into a deep depression. I made stupid mistakes during this time in my life and that got people talking about me. My ex told his friends and family lies and secrets about me, which earned me a few enemies. Rumors spread that I was “loose,” which meant dirty looks from some folks, awkward personal questions from concerned others, and even blatant requests for sex from one person.

My reputation (which was mostly undeserved–I’m not really as badass as people thought I was) and my depression  knocked me down to rock bottom and when I got there, I figured I had two options: grab a shovel and start diggin’, or stop giving a damn.

I chose the latter.

Allie Brosh sums up this point in my life fairly well. You should read this, now: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2011/10/adventures-in-depression.html

Uninhabited by my fear of what others would think about me, I was able to share my stories. I was able to ask difficult questions. I was able to be honest about myself and who I was because I no longer had anything to lose.

And you know what happened?

My not-giving-a-damn about my reputation started helping people.

And my not-giving-a-damn about my reputation helped me find healing.

Eventually, in the spirit of not-giving-a-damn, I started this blog.

Lately, however, I’ve been taking steps to cure my depression and I’m on medicine that diminishes the symptoms. That’s a good thing, but now it’s tempting to start giving a damn again.

It’s tempting to worry more about my reputation than about helping others.

It’s tempting to think twice (or three times, or four…) before asking a controversial question.

It’s tempting to avoid my the publish button on my blog.

I’m thrilled to be getting the upper hand of my depression. I hate depression. I hate it so much that if it were a vegetable, I would hide it in my napkin and feed it to the dog when my parents weren’t looking.

But depression taught me something.

But I hope I never forget what it taught me–that sometimes, if you want to make a difference, you have to stop giving a damn about what people are going to think of you.

As one commenter has already pointed out, giving a damn isn’t always bad! So, tomorrow, I’m going to talk about how you should start giving a damn. Until then, what stories would you tell and what questions would you ask if you didn’t give a damn about your bad reputation?



Listen up, Zoloft…

This past Thursday was the happiest I’ve been in months.

That’s a little weird to say because I didn’t have any big adventures or go to any cool concerts. I just got up at 9:00 am and walked to French class in the rain, and it was cold and my socks got wet. Then, I went to the doctor’s office and filled out papers and got needles shoved into my veins and stuff.

But, as I mentioned in my last blog post, after my appointment, my doctor gave me a prescription for hope.

…oh, and also Zoloft.

My doctor was clear that my starting dosage would not have much of an effect on me (I just have to get used to the medicine slowly), and that even the full dosage would take a week or two to make a difference.

But that first half of a pill that I took must have had some kind of crazy placebo effect. Or maybe  my excitement about the fact that someone had actually offered me a realistic solution to my depression sent me into a state of euphoria.

Whatever the cause, for the first time in months, I was truly happy.

Skipping-and-clicking-my-heels-together-instead-of-walking-like-a-normal-person happy.

Pretending-my-life-is-a-musical-and-dancing-on-my-coffee-table happy.

Being-able-to-talk-about-politics-without-getting-angry happy.

Needless to say, despite French class and the rain and having to tear off a band-aid, I enjoyed my Thursday.

But, my happiness had baggage: fear.

As the sun set on my fantastic Thursday, I cuddled on the sofa with Abe and we had this conversation:

*Me: I love how I feel today, but I keep thinking of that play…with the rat, and the big word.

*Abe: Flowers for Algernon? 

*Me: Yeah, that’s the one. This happiness isn’t going to last, and what if the medicine doesn’t work and I just go back to being just as depressed forever? Only, it will be worse because I’ll be able to remember how happy I was today and it will seem like hell in comparison.

*Abe: If this doesn’t work, you’ll try something else.

*Me: I guess my doctor did say there were plenty of options. She did say that if this didn’t work, there were other things I could try….yeah. Yeah. There are other things I can try. Yeah.

At this point, something clicked in my brain and I abruptly ended my conversation with Abe. I ran into the other room to grab my bottle of Zoloft. I swept it into my fingers, stared it right in the face that it didn’t have, and had a little chat with it:

Listen up, buddy...

“Listen, Zoloft, I don’t need you. I like you. Sure. And I hope we work out. But there are other fish in the sea. That’s right. You’re not my last chance. My hope for healing doesn’t have to begin and end with you. You had better damn well treat me right, or I will dump your ass and find someone new.”

I heard Abe chuckling behind me, and I realized that I was talking out-loud to an inanimate object. But I didn’t care. I had said what I needed to say.

I have high hopes for Zoloft.


But I don’t have to sit and worry about whether or not it will work. Zoloft is not my last chance, because I’m never going to give up. I’m not going to quit pursuing healing.

If it doesn’t work, I’ll be heart-broken and disappointed, sure. I may get knocked down…

…but I’ll get up again….

…You’re never gonna bring me down (I couldn’t resist).


Sarah vs. Evil Overlord Depression

I don’t remember exactly when I first started suffering from depression. It was probably around junior high.

Back then, depression would waltz in and out of my life. It would stick around for a few days or weeks, then it would leave, and it would forget to call, and good riddance!

When I started dating my abusive ex-boyfriend at age 16, depression decided to crash on the futon for a few weeks. Those weeks turned into months…

…and years.

The first two years involved many a prayer to “vending machine Jesus.” You know–insert prayer, receive blessings. But it seemed like either my prayers were too wrinkled to be accepted, or my blessings were getting stuck in the dispenser.

Eventually, my Baptist school girl logic came to the conclusion that, “God must freaking hate me.” That type of thinking drove me straight into the open arms of self-injury. 

In college, I stopped believing in”vending machine Jesus” when I met real Jesus. When I prayed to real Jesus, he answered my prayers by sticking Bible passages like 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 in my head. That really annoyed me. Sometimes real Jesus seemed like a real jerk to me.

But he loved me more than any vending machine ever could, and so I followed him.

Still, depression lingered, playing World of Warcraft in the basement of my mind.

So I switched my focus. My philosophy became, “Since Jesus isn’t a vending machine, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to fix this problem, I just need to get over it.”

Image via counter-force.com

At this point, I imagine depression letting out one of those super-villain laughs and saying (in an Invader ZiM voice for some reason), “Puny human! You really think you can defeat ME?”

But I had a case of good ol’ under-dog syndrome, and was certain that I was some kind of unlikely hero that, armed only with courage and maybe some wise advice from a friendly Muppet, could beat the evil over-lord, Depression

I did better than one might expect. I put up a good fight. I even got the upper hand now and then. But about a year ago, depression dealt dealt me a pretty tough blow and left me for dead.

Broken and utterly defeated.

The past eight years of my life, since depression first showed up on my doorstep, have been a struggle. But I can’t say the past year has been a struggle because I barely have the energy to get out of bed, let alone fight off an evil overlord.

But yesterday, I finally admitted that I wasn’t an unlikely hero in a sci-fi movie. I finally admitted that I am a human. A human with an illness that needs treatment. A human that cannot defeat depression through will-power anymore than a cancer patient can remove tumors using positive thinking.

I finally realized, as Allie Brosh said in a fantastic post that she wrote yesterday, “Trying to use will-power to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back…”

So, I went to the doctor.  I asked for help, and I didn’t get pity or judgment in return.

I got solutions.

I’m sure my fight with depression is far from over. But for the first time in years, I remember what hope feels like.

It feels good.