there’s a reason i avoid human contact when i’m depressed: i’m too self-absorbed with my sadness to be present for another person. also, i’m afraid of being vulnerable and afraid of being rejected if i ask for help. but i drove to her house and parked in her driveway and tossed rubbish in the bin next to the garage and didn’t have a chance to knock on her front door before she pounced on me with a hug. besides, i was irresistibly tempted by the invitation to play with her orange tabby kitten.
i paced her living room, the kitten hunted my ankles at every other pass of my pacing, and i babbled around the outskirts of what i really needed to talk about. i asked her questions i knew to ask about the big stuff going on in her life, listening for the pauses and the unspoken words between the spoken ones. i tried not to talk about me, to not talk about it, because the it i needed to talk about was also the it i didn’t want to talk about but i couldn’t effectively talk about anything else because that one thing sucked up all the air.
getting restless, we left the house. we loaded bags of donations for goodwill. we delivered the donations and decided to shop. somewhere between the long sleeve shirts and the sleeveless shirts, i spit it out. how long do i let myself sit with this depression before i need to do something about it? how many more months do i indulge the days of going back to bed to read and nap and meditate? am i going to feel this sad nothingness for a year or longer? is my depression slowly worsening? how can i trust my perception to accurately evaluate my long-term general mood when i feel both intense sadness alternating with feeling nothing?
she’s a science-loving nursey poetess who is concerned for my well-being and as soon as i asked all those questions outloud she wanted to have helpful answers but we both knew there weren’t answers that would be helpful, only more questions. she asked helpful questions. we kept shopping. i bought two shirts. she bought two shirts (one with unicorns). i drove her home. i got out of the car and went inside with her instead of dropping her off like we both expected me to do. i sat on her couch. we talked around it more. we talked about it more. and finally she helped me accomplish what i didn’t understand i wanted until the moment i received the gift: she helped me reframe depression.
i’m not depressed. i don’t have a brain chemical imbalance. although i am exhibiting classic symptoms of depression, my current reality isn’t the result of depression. my current state is an integration of nihilism. i’ve cognitively understood the constructs of nihilism since adolescence. however, because grieving and sadness are the two feelings i have done everything in my life to avoid feeling until recently, i am presently experiencing the feeling of meaningless for the first time in my life, rather than strictly cogitating the mental construct of meaninglessness.
integrating nihilism gives me more options than depression. with an integration of nihilism, i can emotionally experience the meaninglessness of everything and nothing and dive into the blankness and frolic in that dark infinite void and curiously wait for what happens next. with depression, all i could do was feel sad and scared that all i’ll ever feel is sadness and nothingness. an integration of nihilism means that i can celebrate the nothingness because the nothingness is as meaningless (and flip-flop meaningful) as anything else i feel. ta da! by the grace of a friend helping me to adjust my perspective, i’m no longer depressed. without the label of depression, my feelings of sadness and nothingness have more space to roam freely and become something else whenever the next emotional tide shifts.
i’m relieved that i’m no longer depressed. there’s nothing wrong or unhealthy with experiencing the emotions that surface around meaninglessness. in fact, those feelings are entirely appropriate for some of us to feel some of the time. my time for meaninglessness and its accompanying emotional experience is right now, so i’m gonna kick back, tune in, and groove on integrating nihilism.