JoshSundquist

*more serious question* how did you overcome depression, or "grayness" like you described it in your book?

Thanks for asking this, first of all because I think

depression is an incredibly common yet painfully lonesome struggle

and second because sometimes I wish I had not put that section in my book. Sometimes I think maybe it was too personal. Knowing however that it was (presumably) meaningful and/or helpful to you is therefore nice to hear for me as an author.

In fact, several of you have asked questions here on Tumblr today about depression, so I am going to assume this is a question worth answering.

Now, with that meandering preamble out of the way, let me answer your question: How did I overcome depression?

Just kidding! Another preamble, perhaps the most important: Language is important, and I think it is dangerous to say that I have “overcome” depression in the same way that most experts on substance abuse would agree that a person who has struggled with addiction is never “cured” of the addiction.

Describing yourself as “cured” of depression or addiction is setting yourself up for disappointment and confusion if (and when) those patterns begin to resurface. Instead of trying to “cure” depression, therefore, I believe you merely learn how to manage it.

As for me personally, what helped was a combination of A) counseling from a mental health professional and B) medication in the form of an anti-depressent.

More broadly speaking, what helped me then and what still helps me now (again, I don’t want to give you the impression I’m cured…these are still issues I grapple with) was changing the way I defined myself. Instead of defining myself by my achievements or by the things I do, I had to learn to define myself by who I already am.

Specifically, I had to learn to accept that I was already enough. I didn’t have to accomplish anything more. I didn’t have to get anyone else to like me. I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. And I didn’t have to overcome anything (including the depression itself). I was enough just the way I was. And if I was enough, well then, everything was OK. I could just rest in the present moment.

I myself arrived at this conlusion at the end of a string of faith-based logic: I believe God loves me unconditionally the way I am, and therefore I am enough.

But if faith isn’t your thing, you can arrive at the same conclusion with logic that doesn’t rely on a benevolent deity. The argument goes like this: You are already enough because this is the way you are now. There is no other possible way that you could be because you cannot change the past. So you cannot change any of the past circumstances that have made you into who you are right now. You might be able to change your future by acting in the present, yes, but at least for this moment you cannot change who or what you are. Therefore the most rational thing (in fact, the only rational thing) you can do is to stop fighting, stop beating yourself up with your idea of who you think you should be or who you want to be and just accept who you are. Accept that you are enough. And if you are enough, everything is OK, at least for this moment. And this one. And this one, too.

Anyway, I’m not a mental health professional or anything, so if you are struggling with these issues I suggest you find someone with expertise to help you.

But hopefully this answers your question.

58 notes on this post

  1. theangelassassin said: Could you put this is rebloggable form so I could share your answer? I know some people who might appreciate it.
  2. eloquentwreck said: I really, really wish I could reblog this. I was feeling completely inadequate and you made me change my mind. Thank you.
  3. akai-tori said: as someone with depression, I was hoping you’d give this sort of answer, that you cannot “cure” it so much as manage it :)