Perhaps you know someone with depression. I know I do.
A friend just walked in the door of the coffee shop where I’m writing this morning, and I could tell in an instant he was in the midst of a deep battle with his own mind. He’s a talented guy. Right now he’s sitting seven feet in front of me. “I have so much shit to do. It’s like I’m a broken machine.”
He turns to me and smiles. But it’s a painful smile. The smile that says, “Nothing is gonna make this a whole lot better now.”
Depression is exhausting. For creative people like my friend, and for great artists and politicians and recent mothers forever, depression kills the spirit and makes even simple obligations a misery. You just don’t care. Life itself feels like an affront. The rising sun feels like a smack upside the head. You’ve got to do this “thing” again. This life shit.
So I am going to try to get my friend some help. Because he deserves it. For twenty years or so (he shares upon my asking) he’s fought this thing on his own for the most part. “Once in a while, people give me an ear. But I’ve worn out my welcome with some people,” he says.
It’s so hard.
Those who run and ride know that exercise can be a salve for depression and anxiety. It can even be a release from the day to day emotional shackles that depression clamps on your wrists and mind.
People try everything to get out of the pain. Yet God even seems out of reach. You can’t always pray your way out of depression.
But people have learned that you can exercise your way out of emotional jam. That’s a fact, not a slap in the face of religion. And once you get going, which is the hard part, the running and riding and swimming becomes a prayer of sorts
We all need a release from the manic reality of the world that often does not give a shit about you or me or anyone else. So we go running and riding and the world steps aside for a bit. The road ahead becomes the focus. By the time the movement is in full swing the world can even open up a little. The fields go rolling by. The birds on the wire suddenly appear in your consciousness. The song of a meadowlark reaches you from out in the grasslands. And you are saved, for the moment.
Perhaps you’ve never experienced real depression or have never known someone that has. But it’s hard. And real.
You might find this post a bit depressing on its own. But depression is not just the product of people trapped in their own negative thought patterns. But it’s subtle. Cognitive therapy can help with some aspects of depression, sometimes.
It’s important to realize that the likes John Lennon and Winston Churchill each fought depression. That’s why it’s important to give consideration to the idea that the human condition has a broad range of responses to this world. It’s not losers or weak people who experience depression. Some of the strongest people you will ever meet in the world fight this brave fight every day. And that’s just to feel normal. Not full of angst, fear or dread. And they still lead productive lives. That’s something to be admired, not despised or denigrated.
I’m going to try to get my friend some help. And if you or someone you know fights depression or anxiety, know that there is no better time in the history of the world to come forward or find the resources and support people with depression can use. Today’s medications are better than ever. They typically don’t destroy your personality or your creativity.
It can take a little work to find the right chemistry, but until you do, if you’re lucky enough to go running and riding, it’s the best first response in this world. It is not just your imagination that this stuff works.
GIVE FULLY. LOVE LIFE. EVEN WHEN IT’S HARD.