Two things. Firstly, this has absolutely nothing to do with dealing with clinical depression. If you’re suffering from any kind of diagnosed medical condition, your best bet is to consult with a trained, medical professional. They have years of education and experience under their belts and they will be able to assist you with whatever you’re dealing with infinitely better than strangers on the internet. Secondly, this is dedicated to the lovely soul from chat: Intrigued.
In an attempt to answer all of the e-mails I receive, I’ve come across a large number of incredibly varied questions. Everything from “how do i stop this all-in in zvt” to “I have cancer and I don’t know how to tell my friends”. Obviously some things are more common than others, but I’ve more than a dozen e-mails asking me how to deal with depression. Some people tell me that watching my stream puts them in a happy place because their life is shitty, and others tell me that they just constantly find themselves sick and depressed when they’re dealing with the people around them.
I have a system that works pretty well for me. I don’t claim that this will work for you, or for anyone else, to be honest, but I like it and I recommend it to anyone that asks or is having trouble dealing with life and what not.
“You play games all day, you have no idea what it’s like…”
Granted, my life today is infinitely easier than most people’s. Truth be told, the hardest decision I have to make some days is which game I’m going to play. Alright, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but in regards to feeling hopeless or depressed, I definitely don’t have to deal with that anymore. So why listen to anything I have to say on the matter?
I’ll qualify it with a little bit of history.
I graduated high school in a pretty unique position. I had amazing test scores (a 35 on the ACT and enough 4-5′s on AP tests to almost enter College as a sophomore), an amazing girlfriend (who would become my wife at 19) and was half Cuban. Silly as that may sound, it puts me in an amazing spot for financial aid, which was needed to enter college.
Even though I didn’t get a full ride to college, my life entering it was almost perfect. I was married to the most amazing girl I’d ever met in my entire life, I was pursuing music, a great passion of mine, and I had a promising job/future career started at a casino with a huge opportunity for personal growth. In fact, in a short amount of time I was promoted to a supervisory position over the night shift. $20/hour with plenty of overtime available, 401k/benefits etc…etc…Great stuff!
Over the course of the next few years, things would happen that would cause a great change in a lot of these things. Working full time and doing school full time left little time for anything else in my life. My relationship with my wife started to deteriorate, I ended up failing out of music school due to all of the overtime I was putting in at work, and I was eventually fired from my job at the casino due to a dispute with one of the managers. During my time working at the casino, my best friend of 15 years discussed with me and then subsequently committed suicide due to troubles in his own life.
Skip forward another 6 months and I’d exhausted the savings in my 401k, leaving me with nothing to pay the mortgage in the house I’d purchased. I was able to find work carpet cleaning. Since it was a small business and times were incredibly tough, I was essentially working 80 hours a week for ~$1,500/month. It sounds impossible and crazy, and I wish it were, but those were easily some of the hardest and darkest days of my life. Topping all of that off with the fact that I was stuck in a relationship with a girl who I’d been on and off again with who was now pregnant, and you’ve got yourself in a pretty sticky mess.
There were more than a few times where I’d find myself standing outside of a job site staring off into traffic or out into someone’s yard, only to have older memories triggered by a breeze in the wind or the crinkling of the Autumn leaves. In a couple of short years, my life had literally crumbled away to nothing. I had no financial or educational future, my job was a complete dead end, I was fostering a child that I couldn’t afford with a woman I could hardly stand in a house I could no longer pay for.
There are people around the world (and even in my own home town!) who have had it worse off than me, and I’m definitely not trying to say that I’ve had it worse than most, but I do know what it’s like to be stuck at the bottom of a pit and feeling absolutely, incredibly hopeless. There are songs that I can’t even listen to anymore because just hearing the opening measures will suck me back into that dark, depressing period in my life. It’s one of the reasons you’ll never hear me play a Pogo song anymore on stream, for instance.
So how does one deal with uncertain or depressing periods of life?
Personally, I’ve found that finding a hobby or craft that is completely independent of other people is the best approach to dealing with depression. A lot of people make the mistake of relying on family or friends for support, but as soon as those family members or friends are no longer around to support them they completely fall to pieces. Everyone has seen that person, that person that seems to do great in life until they’re truly challenged by some event or obstacle and they can’t turn to someone for help, whether it’s the first time they’ve confronted with a problem at a new job, or with a problem at college when they’re away from home for the first time.
The nice thing about finding a hobby or a craft to work at is that it will always be there for you, completely and totally unconditionally. No matter how bad or terrible the decisions you’ve made in life are, no matter how badly you’ve messed up, no matter how little money you have and no matter how bizarre the relationships are with the people you deal with every day is, no one can take that special thing away from you.
For some people, this is as simple as drawing, singing, or even playing video games.
If you haven’t guessed by now, that “thing” for me was music. A lot of people have asked me so many times why I chose to do music in college, and that’s because music was that one area in life where I could always retreat to and find solace.
Whether that meant sneaking into the practice rooms at 11PM when I got off work to bang out a few keys on the piano or try to figure out how to play the melodies from video games on my saxophone, I could always, always turn to music if I found I was feeling down about anything else in life. There were so many rough days at work or terrible paychecks I received or frustrating situations that were thrown at me when I was growing up that were sometimes completely beyond my control. If I hadn’t the ability the screw around on the keyboard every night or blow a few notes on my horn, I’m not sure what I would have done.
Sorry that I don’t have an amazingly complicated or detailed method of system for dealing with depression, but it’s surprising to see how many people completely rely on other people as their sole method of support during times of trouble in their life. I would highly suggest finding some kind of art or hobby that you can sink all of your extra time into because you will always be able to turn to that if you’re feeling down.
No matter what happens in life, you need something that you can turn to that no one else can ever take from you.