Thoughts about depression

My whole life I have been told time after time “you are too emotional…” At points I was encouraged to dial it back or turn it off. I am easily offended. I don’t like being picked on. I don’t like when people try to get under my skin purposefully. It makes me feel insecure, inadequate, undervalued and not worth it.

I’ve had friends who have told me that they started avoiding me because I have a tendency to be more emotional than most. I’ve spent my whole life trying to figure out what is wrong with me because of the phrase “you are too emotional…” When my junior year of college rolled around, I found a way out. I found (or so I thought) a way to numb my emotions. Whenever I started feeling emotional, I would drink. When I drank my insecurities faded and my emotions were numbed. I thought that I had become the person that I have always wanted to be. I was a rock, I was solid (or so it seemed). If I had a bad day at work, I would take a lunch break and drink. If I was lonely, I drank. I had myself convinced that it was the cure-all. I was convinced it was my only way to achieve some sort of happiness or emotional rationality.

Though I tried to convince myself this cure-all worked, my world was starting to fall apart. The nights that I spent at home alone would often be elongated periods of time of crying. Eventually I decided to seek out help from a doctor. It was there that I learned that I have intense manic depressive disorder. Which made sense in hindsight.

According to wikipedia the signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of this disorder include persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, isolation, or hopelessness; disturbances in sleep and appetite; fatigue and loss of interest in usually enjoyable activities; problems concentrating; loneliness, self-loathing, apathy or indifference; depersonalization; loss of interest in sexual activity; shyness or social anxiety; irritability, chronic pain (with or without a known cause); lack of motivation; and morbid suicidal thoughts. In severe cases, the individual may become psychotic, a condition also known as severe bipolar depression with psychotic features. These symptoms include delusions or, less commonly, hallucinations, usually unpleasant. A major depressive episode persists for at least two weeks, and may continue for over six months if left untreated. (Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Bipolar Disorder Second Edition”. APA Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: Comprehensive Guidelines and Guideline Watches 1. 2006)

I got on medicine. It was a good way to keep the chemical imbalance in my body in check. Eventually, I came to a church that challenged me to deal with this lie: “Sharing my emotions with people will push them away.” I had to come to accept the fact that I am great, have worth, potential and can be an asset to this world even though I have a very messed up emotional life. I spent a whole year of up and downs re-learning how to be me and re-learning how to love myself with this disorder. I accepted it as a thorn in my side. When I surrendered these feelings to God I became a more sane regimented person. I was stable for once in my life. I wasn’t drunk all the time. I wasn’t sad all that time. I was simply me, Jason DeVaney, who sometimes had varying emotions. The people from my church have been the most loving group of people who have helped me through this. I learned that though I was somewhat crazy, I also had value and was awesome because of my unique personality. One individual has been meeting with me every 2 weeks for the past 2 years and has been one of the biggest proponents for change in my life.

A month ago, due to an oversight, I ran out of medicine. I scheduled a meeting with the doctor but won’t be able to get in till November 9th which is still several weeks away. This has lead to a very difficult season that I’m currently still in the midst of. There has been a lot of unnecessary pain that I have felt and it is a very real feeling. I’m incredibly proud of the choices I’ve made to keep my life somewhat composed. Friends, I am sad all the time right now. I have chosen to not withdrawal from my close friends, I have chosen to keep my eyes on God, and I have chosen fake it till I make it. I’m proud of where I am at. I understand that I’m not as perfectly rational all the time as I would be on the meds, but I’m really really trying and succeeding more than I have ever been in my life.

Yesterday at my 9 to 5, a co-worker was joking with me at my expense. I don’t have a huge emotional capacity for that right now. So I just stayed quiet and kept to myself. Ignorance can be some sort of bliss. However, when he noticed the change in my composure, he immediately went on the offensive and said “you are too emotional… you can’t be like that… you’re so moody all the time.” I don’t really know how to describe the kind of pain those words bring to me. Whenever someone says that to me, I start to hate myself and start to wonder why God made me this way. That little phrase has made yesterday and today very hard for me to believe that I’ve made any progress in my life.

Why do I say all this? Because at some point we all have to realize that we can’t make jokes at other people’s expense. When we do, we have to expect them to get offended and not be surprised when that happens. My closest friends lift me up and encourage me. We poke fun at each other from time to time. But when that happens it is all in an appropriate matter and those moments are covered up by the massive gestures of love that come from doing life with these people.

We have to expect that some people are more emotional that others. We have to be understanding to the fact that some people have a disorder. In the same way that we take care of the person that has an intense physical disorder we needed to do the same for people with emotional disorders. Emotions are good. They show us the status of our heart. When a man is emotional, if a man cries, or does anything of the sort, he is not any less of a man. We need to break these negative social constructs. As humans, we need to take care of each other. We’re all stuck on this planet together. We should endure life with the understanding that we’re all in this together.

My name is Jason DeVaney. I cry. I am emotional. I am NOT too emotional. I am sick and dealing with a disorder. My disorder does not give me an excuse to act irrational. It is not a scapegoat. Though, I am responsible for my actions it needs to be made known that it isn’t easy. It isn’t easy to feel sad a lot and to make choices based on logic rather than what I feel. It isn’t easy for me to count my blessings, know my life is awesome and somehow have an emotion in my body that is telling me I am sad. It’s illogical. It’s not right. It’s not fair. But I am what I do, not what I feel. I have no interest in having friendship with people that want me to not be emotional. I have no interest in being friends with people that want to make fun of me and then are surprised when I am offended. I officially don’t care for and don’t want close friendships with people who won’t love me for who I am and all I am worth.

I am what I do, not what I feel.

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2 thoughts on “Thoughts about depression

  1. Jason, I’m so thankful that you shared this. I am grateful for the times that we spent together and I wish our paths still crossed. You are such a great guy and I have so much respect for how, in spite of difficulties and in the face of crappy circumstances, you choose to focus on and live for Christ. If you ever want to chat, I would love to catch up. Know that you have a friend in Oklahoma City who is praying for you and loves you. You are what you do, not what you feel!

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