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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Why People Are Important in Depression

People are not my favorite. Ask me. Ask anyone who actually knows me (there aren't many). 

I find people exhausting. Needy. Ridiculous. Often useless. On good days, I can translate this to Mr. Bennett's "Well, well, what is life for, if not to make sport of our neighbors, and provide sport for them in our turn?" On bad days, I have learned to clench my jaw, avoid conversation, and speak in a very, very soft voice when absolutely necessary. 

However, I have learned, and Paul Asay of Beauty in the Browns, concurs, that people are important in treating and avoiding depressive episodes. What people and how many probably vary, but the key is to look outside myself for ways to help other humans. 

Depression is quite selfish. The more I look inward at how awful I am, and life is, and people are, the worse the depression gets. In fact, the better my outward life actually is, the more depressed I tend to become, often because I have no reason to feel depressed, and that is completely depressing. 

Helping another human (and it has to be a human. I have been good to enough animals to know it isn't the same or I would be the happiest camper in the universe) helps me feel better. To be selfless, to be kind, to go out of my way, even for a phone conversation, can give life a scrap of meaning. Piece enough scraps, and you've got a quilt of meaning to pad the day. 

It sounds a bit too easy, doesn't it? It's not a cure-all. I lost my quilt pattern this last time, and I'm having a hard time getting back in the scrap box, but I will keep trying. It's also easy to go too far, extend too much and get buried under exhaustion and stress. I did that once. It was not fun. I'm looking for balance. 

I learned last year that a day where I went out of my way to help another human was a better day than one where I didn't. One personal goal is now to say yes to helping opportunities instead of my knee-jerk no. I don't think I'm trying to earn anything. I think I'm trying to practice not withholding good when it is in my power to do it. But I'm a selfish creature so it is sometimes hard to understand my motives. 

I try not to dwell on them. It depresses me. 

Keep the faith. 

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