I’ll start this off with a disclaimer: this is a potentially rough downer-of-an-entry. I’m only posting it because I feel hard truths can be helpful if they’re delivered in a rational way. Don’t be too harsh, but don’t candy-coat the facts of the matter. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on.
I’ve lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a year now, and in that time, I’ve been through a lot. Found a job calling for a variety of different charities, made a few new friends, typical things for a person of my age. While my writing career has been far from what I’d call successful, I have been seeing more success in my chosen field (even if my number of published pieces are relatively limited and scant). It’s a good feeling when you can call yourself something of a professional writer.
I finally feel content in my progress. I used to live in a very small area (if you can call it “living,” when really it’s just glorified existing) outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I’d go to work at Subway and then come home to drink beer and listen to music. Depressed and miserable on a daily basis, dissolving my life in a flood of booze was the best I could do at that time. One car spread between four people doesn’t offer much in the way of being able to go places. Heck, only two of us were working at the time.
Not that it was all bad. I had supportive roommates who let me do my wild thing, and that was great. I had rarely seen such unconditional support. It was a lifesaver at that time, as I was going through a lot of mental hell. Dysphoria was a constant spectre on my existence. Not trying to be dramatic, but that’s just a fact of life for a lot of us.
Living near a small city, people tend to be conservative. They’re not what anyone could call open-minded, and it’s a sad fact of life that in many places, there are more people like them and even worse people at that. It’s good to have a community, but it’s tough when everything is so spread out.
Here I am now, though. Happier than I’ve been in a long while. Life is a joy.
If you’re depressed, the first thing you should do is look at your environment. There are a lot of factors that cause depression, and they are not always chemical in nature. The chemical I am referring to is more an imbalance, as several mental disorders are related to having a lack of things such as serotonin and dopamine (so-called “pleasure chemicals”). This is why addicts self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. It’s often the only way people can be happy, and pharmaceuticals help to regulate these necessary chemicals.
But sometimes a change of scenery can help. I’m, of course, not recommending you forgo medical advice or medications if you are suffering. That would be incredibly foolish and wrong of me. Yet, on the other hand, it might not be entirely in your mind. Just consider moving, if that’s something you might want to do.
Similar to moving, another option is work. If you’re in a job (such as retail or food service), it’s forgivable to get down on yourself. People are jerks, and it seems like the entitlement they feel does nothing but aid in their sometimes despicable attitudes. Christmas shopping, anyone?
Not saying every customer is like this – I’ve had some very nice customers who provided me with enjoyable work experience – but those who make it hard to report back with a favourable review of my customer service jobs. Anyone who has ever been stuck in this routine of the truly endless job knows what I’m talking about.
The last suggestion I could make is possibly the most controversial: get new friends. As I said, I’ve been supported and encouraged by very cool people over the past three or four years. This is, of course, a very insignificant chunk of one’s life. For the first twenty-eight years of my life, I didn’t really know what any of this meant. School was total hell, and I got bullied a lot, which led to a distorted idea of how people are or can be.
Indeed, many of my “friends” were just drinking buddies or people I used with. They abandoned me when I opted to take charge of my life. This is a common occurrence whenever a person decides to improve. Maybe it’s jealousy. Perhaps it’s something in our genes that compels us to banish the proactive among us. My instinct screams “jealousy,” but who knows?
Does any of this seem familiar to you? If so, I’m glad we could share in the experience, despite how damned difficult it is at times. Just know, I’m proud of you. I believe in you.
If you’re going through a rough patch and want or need to speak to someone, call The Suicide Hotline (US: 1-800-264-8255, Singapore 1800 221 4444). It’s a 24-hour hotline, so they should be available all day every day.
You can also get more information from the Samaritans of Singapore site.
Stephanie Knarr recently moved to Pittsburgh, PA from the Harrisburg, PA area. Her writing appears in Harrisburg’s local magazine, The Burg, and her work will soon appear in Unwinnable and Five:2: One. Her favourite drink is RC Cola, and her favourite band is probably Animal Collective.