Battling Satan's Butthole

Today, I wanna talk about Tom Hawking’s article “Robin Williams and the Myth of Battling Depression” on Flavorwire yesterday. I think it was a well-intentioned article, but it can also be seen as disheartening as fuck if you have depression. 

If your ass is too lazy to click on that link and read some enlightening shit, I will break it down for you. In essence, Hawking is saying the narrative we weave as a society—that depression is a battle to be won or lost, or in any case, to be valiantly railed against—is dangerous and gives the impression that it can be conquered when really it can’t. He states: 

“It’s not true, though. You can treat cancer or AIDS, but I don’t know if you can fight them — I doubt it, to be honest, despite what advocates of relentless positivity will tell you. But I know for sure that you don’t fight depression. You can’t. If you could, things would probably be a lot easier. 

“You don’t battle depression, you endure it. Or perhaps even that word isn’t quite right — you simply experience it, day after day. You take the pills and try to continue living and tell yourself that it won’t last forever, that eventually the fog will lift, because it always does, sooner or later. But when you’re in that fog, you can’t see anything but emptiness.”

On one hand, I appreciate the description because people who have never experienced this fucking shit have no idea what it’s like to be pinned to your bed, as if by some invisible sinister hand, unable to move. Indeed, the only thing moving is your mind, and that shithead is running a goddamned marathon. It’s telling you that you need to bathe and groom yourself, that you need to clean your house, grocery shop, cook meals, love your wife, touch your wife, answer your friends’ calls, rejoin the world, stop fucking off at your job, make something of yourself, leave your mark, finish this project, find a shrink, go to the gym— and well, you get the fucking idea. 

From the simplest, most basic task of “say, I should wash my snatch today because I’m wallowing in my filth and it’s the right thing to do” to “Jesus Christ, is this what the rest of my life looks like because just…no” thoughts careen through your gray matter over and over on the giant hamster wheel in your mind. Meanwhile, there’s that fucking hand, pressing all of its force on you, pressing you further down under the covers, like Satan’s butthole itself. And you know you aren’t going anywhere that day. 

So yeah, I really do think that it some ways it’s healthy to drop the “battling depression” metaphor because is it really a battle if one side can’t even bother to show up for the skirmish? And it does help dispel the myth that if someone kills himself, it’s because he or she didn’t “fight hard enough.” 

However, I have to say, reading the article also was disheartening in a “Look, you can’t fight this, it’s not a battle to be won, so why fucking try? Just throw in the fucking towel now.” I think that kind of thinking can get us depressives into trouble. The last thing a depression-prone person needs is permission to stop trying things that help stave off the beast. That’s like sending us to the bedroom with an ounce of weed, an iPad, and seven unwatched seasons of Lost. It’s a depressive’s wet dream. 

For my own part, I need the fighting metaphor. Even if it’s a battle that can never hoped to be “won” in the true sense of the word, I need to view it as the Beast That Must Be Kept at Bay. And I keep plodding along with meditation, smoothies, meds, and whatever the next weird thing is that comes along that guarantees happiness. If I don’t, it means I look at every potential suicide—either Robin Williams’ or either of my two friends who’ve taken their lives—as a there but for the grace of god go Isituation. 

And that’s unacceptable to me.