2011-02-09

The things I wish I had known

Sergey invited me to lunch with a friend of his. The friend has some significant trouble with his family and the low is reverberating through his life. Not only is his family behaving badly, but he has started an unrelenting and unforgiving introspection that's leaving him with a set of logical conclusions: he is useless, his life is meaningless and people are awful and selfish.

The friend spent a week trying to drink it all away, but it was too exhausting, and now he just want to curl up with the only companion he can trust: himself.

Sergey asked me to give his friend some advice; what do I wish I had known before I spiralled into my first pit of despair? At first I didn't know what to say, but after a while this is what I came up with:

  • Hang out with people. Doesn't matter if you hate it. They will give you other input than your own.
  • Stay away from alcohol. You're going to overdo it, and it's a depressant. It will make you feel worse, both by the stupid things you'll do and its chemical impact on your brain.
  • See a professional. The job of this person is to agree with you and see things from your perspective. It will be reassuring.
  • If you find yourself alone, go hang out in a live chat online. There is one at Depression Haven. The conversation is rather trite, but it's going to be better than the shit in your head.
  • Exercise, take hot showers, cold showers, see how long you can hold ice cubes in your armpit; do anything that creates strong sensation that's not harmful to yourself or others. It will jolt you out of that state at least for a moment.

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