The familiar fog descended on a Sunday in August, a fog that though invisible felt gray and heavy and capable of muting sunlight. I sat in the drivers seat of my car, the car I would be driving across the country in two weeks time. Depression sat in the passenger seat, taking up far too much space.
According to the World Health Organization, depression is a mental illness suffered by 350 million people across the globe. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and if left untreated can lead to deteriorations in physical health, and in the worst cases, suicide. And depression is not something that can be cured by moving out of your apartment and setting off on a road trip, as I understood that August afternoon. This bitch was coming with me.
Depression manifests itself differently in different people. For me, the magic gets snuffed out. When I am my normal self, I am a part of a world that shimmers with possibility; when I am depressed, I walk around coated in a dull film that renders everything flat and distant. Life’s goodness creaks under the weight of hopelessness, opportunity becomes overwhelming, and ordinary tasks seem insurmountable.
Feeling like this is a serious impediment to everyday functioning no matter your lifestyle, but depression smarts a bit more when you’re living on the road. You know the landscape sweeping by outside your window should stir your soul, but it doesn’t. You can’t bring yourself to smile at strangers on the street. You know you are wasting time, that your mind is warping moments into something other than reality, but this dystopia is inescapable nonetheless.
When your mind skips and settles into the groove of self-defeat, embracing that depressive urge to lay around in your sweats is sometimes one of the best things you can do for yourself. Depression is often interrelated with exhaustion, and traveling can be tiring. Staying still for a time and allowing yourself to recharge can do wonders.
Other times, it’s best to force yourself out into the peopled world – often all that’s needed to bring you back to the realm of the living is to connect with another person, even in a small way. Sharing how you feel with someone can also be incredibly comforting, but I’ve yet to master this tactic on account of shame, embarrassment, and what is likely a touch of fear – all things that only serve to perpetuate the depression.
There are numerous resources available to those suffering from depression, and they are accessible anytime – and for free – as long as you have cell reception or WiFi.
- Give a listen to The Mental Illness Happy Hour, a podcast that gets deep into the nitty gritty of the human condition with empathy and humor. The podcast’s website, mentalpod.com, is also home to an active listener forum where you can easily connect with others and get support.
- If you’re close to civilization, search the web for nearby support groups. You can find local chapters of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance on their website, and you can also find grassroots support groups on sites like Meetup.com.
- Call up a stranger who can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline welcomes anyone in crisis to call their hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1(800)273-8255. Additional crisis hotlines are listed at mentalpod.com/help.
And here are a few videos that will lift your heart, even if only for a few moments.