What depression looks like

One of the frequent questions I get from my daughter is why I write so much. I’ve written five books and probably lost a combined thousand dollars on the whole deal. The last one was published in March and I haven’t lost money on it, but that’s only because I figured out a way not to spend any real money on it.

I write for a website and have done that for the past several years. I’ve written for numerous websites over the past twenty years. Some of them paid small sums of money and some didn’t. Clearly, I’ve been writing a long time and it hasn’t been for the money. It certainly isn’t for the prestige either. Those that have reviewed my books or stumbled upon this blog already know me. I can’t really get higher or lower in their estimation. So, that brings us back to the question: why do I do it?

I do it for the same reason that people collect stamps, baseball cards, or other various things. I do it for the same reason that some people sew, tinker and repair things around the house, or play fantasy sports. I do it because it keeps me sane. What few people know is that when I was younger I fought a pretty significant bout with depression. No, I wasn’t hospitalized. Depression looks a lot different depending on who is suffering from it. Many might be suffering around you and you might not even know it. I was medicated for awhile, but fortunately the worst is over. For now.

For most Americans, depression isn’t the kind of thing that lands you in the looney bin. It isn’t something out of a plot from Girl Interrupted or One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest. They don’t put you in straight jackets or give you eletric shock treatment. When asked to give testimonies to teenagers (I volunteer at my church) I usually describe it as if you are permeanently wearing gray colored glasses.

Imagine if you are eating your favorite dessert and you just can’t taste anything. Imagine if you seemingly have nothing to look forward to. Well, over the past six months millions have been in both places. One by one, those enjoyable activities that kept us psychologically together have evaporated into thin air. The reaction to this new reality is a study in psychology itself. Some people have raged against the dying of the light. They are fighting protocols and rules as if their very lives were being stripped from them. Others hang on in quiet desperation and cling to every last enjoyable activity they can find. Finally, you get those that simply get sad. Anxiety usually causes that. When there is nowhere for anxiety to go it either turns into anger or depression.

I had a small group of activities that kept me sane. Usually, the anxiety was work related, but now you pile on my own personal health, the health of friends and family, and the health of the nation. Colin Ham of “Men At Work” wrote in his song “Overkill” the following prescient lines:

I worry over situations I know will be alright. Perhaps it’s just imagination. Day after day it reappears. Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear.”

I used to play golf a lot. My own health problems and the virus have taken that away for the most part. I used to spend time away from my worries watching sports, but they have been more or less on hiatus since March. Like I said earlier, I spend time volunteering at the church. Unfortunately, my own health concerns and the concerns of the virus in general have kept that from happening. So, I write. I write about baseball, I write about politics. I write about my personal feelings. I write about my anxieties and what I’m worried about at the time.

One thing is for sure, this pandemic has taken its toll on everyone. Everyone copes in their own way, but everyone has had to cope. Some people have relatives and close friends that have died. Some people have seen their own small business go up in smoke. Some people have lost their job when the business they worked for couldn’t keep them on. Others have seen changes to their jobs that make going to work and accomplishing something that much more difficult.

Graduations were either postponed, canceled, or conducted via Zoom. Proms were canceled for the most part. Little League and other youth sports were shoved to the side. Summer vacation plans were changed or outright scrapped. Summer camps were altered or cancelled. Simple trips to restaurants or movie theaters were shunned. The list goes on and on.

Depression is a very real way that a lot of people are handling the new reality. Denial is another. I suppose it’s why we fight over mask protocols, whether kids should go back to school, or whether bars and other businesses should be open as usual. Some are angry and feel it is all an overreaction. Whatever the case, we should all cut each other a little slack. Some things go beyond politics or petty differences.

As for me, even if no one reads any of these posts, I feel a whole lot better after writing them. Part of me enjoys the back and forth with people even when we disagree. It brings a personal connection that we haven’t had enough of in our daily lives. So, even if you hate my guts, the interaction is worthwhile on some level.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for thefantatasyfix.com. You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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