When depression deprives you of sadness

For the past couple of years, I haven’t cried very much. This is notable only in that before the past couple of years, I was a big crier. Good things, bad things. When I was seven I cried of happiness at my parents’ wedding. Everyone was like, what? Aren’t you seven?

I would hear some bad news and I would even WANT to cry and I’d be trying to squeeze it out of my eyes and nothing happened. I just felt the little tug in my cheeks and that’s it. I noticed the change over time and eventually I just decided, you know what, it’s probably because of testosterone! I looked it up and a few other trans men have expressed the same thing. So that must be it!

Well, since the second week of January, my grandma died, a family friend died in a fire, and today happened (the anniversary of my good friend killing himself). These are all very sad things. And you know what? I have cried. A lot. I watched that episode of Friends where Ross becomes a father and I teared up. That hasn’t happened in YEARS.

What has changed since the second week of January? I started taking my new medication.

It makes me wonder, you know, if I couldn’t cry just because I was so depressed.

I have noted to several people that I’m feeling sadness for the first time in my life without feeling depression. Whenever something bad happened BEFORE, I would just internalize it and consider it a reason to die or at LEAST a reason to hide in my bed all day. But my grandma died and I saw my grandfather crying (which by the way is the greatest heartbreak–they were together for 70 years) and I wasn’t even thinking of myself. I was finally, at long last, able to give and feel freely.

So many people who’ve never had depression just kind of think of depression as being sad all the time. This could not be further from the truth. It is an emptiness. Sure, a symptom of mild depression is crying spells, but that is definitely not the only experience. Depression is calling in to work because even going pee sounds impossible. Depression is not drinking water because you hope you’ll die from dehydration. On the other hand, sadness is expression–it’s life.

Depression is ceasing. Sadness is spilling. 

I feel so lucky I’ve found the medicine I did. It sucks it took two decades but it’s worth it now, to feel for others and give and give as much as I can.

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Here’s the thing about realizing you’re a selfish prick

You can only go up from here.

You can only go up from here.

I wrote my last post with a great weight of sadness. No, not depression–just sadness. It’s just that I don’t want to be self-serving. I want to give and give.

Perhaps coming from selfish origin, this came up when I was considering killing myself: when I die, I want people to think of me as a giver, as a selfless human, as someone who loved his friends and family and lover with the deepest, admirable amount.

As we know, anyone who kills themselves is not thought of as “selfless.” I don’t like it when people judge victims of depression and call them “selfish” and spit at their name. I don’t find that particularly helpful for anybody. But truly, the act of ending your own life because of your own pain–while being aware of the harm it would cause to others–is ultimately not particularly selfless. I think we can agree on that.

But still. When you spend hours each day imagining your eulogy, you give yourself some thought. What note does your life-tune end on?

I want to be better. And the good news is, in a lot of ways, I can only go up from here. I for sure have a few redeeming qualities, but let’s not get too distracted. I want to put others before myself. I want to care for others. I want to do so without concentration or effort–that it just OCCURS to me to love beyond my own sphere.

I just watched a show called The Good Place. I don’t really watch anything at all, so this is notable. I watched the whole first season (are there other seasons? idk). It’s about a woman who is a real asshole her whole life but somehow ends up in The Good Place (“heaven”) when she dies. She is very confused the whole show and considers herself a mistake, but doesn’t want to go to The Bad Place so she attempts to do a bunch of good deeds to make the cut, basically. Well, without giving away the ending too much, the “points” she’s trying to win are ineffective when her INTENTIONS are self-serving.

In other words, when she only held the door open for her neighborhood’s residents when it somehow benefited her in the end, it didn’t really count in the universe’s judgment.

I bring this up because I don’t really have any post-life intentions in mind. The imagining of my funeral is just a tool. I’m not really like, “I’ll only get into heaven if I do good things,” I’m just like, I want to give back. I want to change my heart to look to help others instead of just trying to barely survive. I think that’s a lot more doable now that I’m not desperate for life. Now that it’s possible, let’s move forward.

Yesterday I felt pretty sad, but feeling sorry for myself is ultimately pretty unhelpful. So I wrote a concise version of my to-dos at the end of that post from yesterday on a small whiteboard in my bedroom. I can’t really enter the room without looking at it. I hope it serves as a reminder, even for a short time, that I have a lot of work to do so let’s get to it, huh?

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