Dienstag, 12. August 2014

Story of my Life - Or How I Dealt With Depression

I woke up. I was crying. But my mind was in rational mode, and stayed positive.
"I will never let this happen to me again. I will never allow myself into such a situation again. I will take care that I will never feel as terrible as I have back then."
It felt very weird. The sadness I felt at that point was overwhelming, but not very "profound": like all the negative energy I have gathered during my troubled past was finally released for good.

The Beginning

19 years of my life, which is a large majority of it, I spent my life in sadness and depression. There were some good phases in between, but my mood was like a rollercoaster. The situation was very complicated. Partly this misery was caused by my uncontrollable, aggressive childhood behavior that made me a lot of enemies at pre-school and school (sadly I cannot explain why I resorted to this kind of behavior), the isolation and bullying that followed, the sometimes questionable actions of my parents and my parent's divorce.

I felt misunderstood, isolated, unworthy. I had thoughts of suicide. I was scared to talk to strangers when I was using public transportation. I was scared to die of cancer. I had an overwhelming fear of losing those very few ones I loved through the divorce. I was freaking 12. But there was something that always kept me going. Like an inner voice that told me to move on despite of the desperation. It told me I should hold on for a bit longer, and it took 10 years until I realized: the voice was right.

Healing Through Self-Therapy

During the ten years that followed, I realized early that writing down what I thought helped me to understand it better. I also realized that drawing put me into this state of "flow" where I could forget all the horrors I had to endure during my school time. Writing taught me that understanding a situation makes you suffer much less than when you don't understand it. And drawing taught me that distance to a situation can make it shine in a different light, because nothing is what it seems to be*.

The only reason I am alive today was that I was constantly trying to find something I could distract myself with during these times. It was writing and drawing first, and later became playing (too many) games, making music, game art and programming.
Gaming led me to two games that had a very severe but positive influence on me. These two games were Vagrant Story and Metal Gear Solid. In both games, both protagonists are doing an almost impossible task and also suffered or even were tortured doing so. I identified with both a lot, and both inspired me to draw. Mostly because of the artwork that was presented on the box and manual, but subconsciously, I wanted to become as strong as them. ** That is also why I was obsessed with drawing dragons, portraying them as strong and proud creatures - when your weakness becomes your strength!

Going Uphill... Slowly

Some real life stuff also has affected my recovery. Going to secondary school helped me a lot to get rid of the horrible reputation I had in primary school, because you know, new people! I even remember telling myself something along the lines of "When I switch schools, I will make everything better!" before my term at that school started. My integration with people has gotten better during this time, but it was still bad enough to feel isolated. After getting my GCSE, I went to "highschool" (I guess) for the next degree level. Again, integration with people has gotten better, but it was still out of the usual.
Now some other important events start intersecting here. During this time, I moved from my mom to my dad. I didn't feel treated well there, so I just decided to switch over (ironically enough, my dad was better in a sense, but I cant say he made life easier for me, he in fact did quite the opposite). I also first began socializing over the internet. I started to make my first friends there, I think this was mostly on dA. I was 15-18 years old.  (Yes, I know... it's VERY late. But better be late than missing). Some important lessons for social interaction I learned here.

I also got involved into something I like to call "RPG based internet relationship".  Looking back, it was a load of bullshit and naive as hell. But it gave me an insight how it's like to be "desired", "wanted" or... well, "loved". It was just an "internet" relationship but it felt so real for me at the time. I was also still having some "psychological conditions" back then i.e. bipolar, obsessive and stalkerish behavior - it was just normal having the background I had. But I hope you, as reader, can imagine that the person I was "engaged" with likely was victim of this. They did not like it at all and after a year or so they gave me the boot. They hurt me so much back then, but I probably hurt them just as much (I was not able to completely control my conditions at the time). It drove me into a deep, deep depression that lasted almost two years. At the same time, I had exams going on. It's extremely hard to study in such a situation, but somehow I still managed to pass my exams and get my highschool degree.

An Odd Little Helper

There were also some real odd things happening during my dreams that were usually lucid in nature. I am not listing those in detail because they are a huge topic in themselves. Let's just say there were some things that were too strange and coincidential than to be product of of my own imagination. They had a much larger impact on me than I am giving them credit for by writing such a short paragraph about them. However, they made me feel like something or someone really cared for me.  They were extremely uncomfortable to have, but the message I got from them was always positive. In my time I've been writing them down and making sense of them, I have learned to interpret them as "love of the universe manifested into a consciousness that is 'talking' to you when you dream".

Lessons Learned

Looking back, I am very proud of the accomplishment to have passed my degree in the worst state of mind possible. At the same time I am meeting this part of my past with caution. There were a lot of things that could have went very differently if I were be able to control the emotional turmoil that was still storming inside of me at that time. There was a lot of friction between me and my dad that also included some heavy freakouts, primarily caused by his verbal abuse. But as contradicting this sounds, all these events gave me a possibility to fully recover.

The trouble with my dad taught me not to give a shit about certain things; not to worry about petty flaws and focus on the tiny things that make life pretty, and to take care of your own life because of its value. It also gave me important lessons about self control, and those I urgently needed.
The trouble with my, uh, "ex" taught me not to get attached too much to people and give them space, to "love from a distance". To just move on and let people be if they rejected you or don't want to have any contact with you.
And the thing that ultimately gave me hope and a lot of strength for all this to happen were these dreams that I had when I was sad. It made me realize how powerful your mind can be if you're trying to use its full potential.

The Recovery

And in the two years that followed, (at age 18-20) the great turning point of my life happened. My life is literally flourishing at the moment. I used to cry so much when I was a kid, up to 5 times a week, but today this is reduced to maybe once each 6 months. I used to be scared shitless when someone judged me, now I just don't care and let people think whatever they want to think (regardless about me or about anything else). My emotions used to be a rollercoaster of depression with some few phases of content, today they are under my full control (90% of the time, I'm still human!). My state of mind grew from a crippled  and insecure kid into a constantly developing, curious and positive adult with a more or less healthy self-esteem - there's a lot of low-self-esteem-things going on in a subconscious level still for me, so my work isn't done yet. But all in all, I managed to bring awareness and balance into a chaotic, unknowing, and naive child mind.

And this is why and how I defeated my depression. And YOU can do the same. I understand there are multiple ways to do it (mine was more an inner journey than anything), but there is always a way out of it. Don't lose hope.

* I had no contact to any other artists than those I found on game art, so there was no chance I could compare my (shitty?) drawings with others that could have had the potential to demotivate me. The only thing I did was to compare my own drawings amongst one another, and I found each drawing I made has gotten visibly better.

** MGS had the larger impact of the two, and there was actually a very huge coincidence I even got it in the first place. I remember there was some kind of party or festival going on. My mom wanted to go there with me, and I kind of didn't want to. Yet, I still went. Then later, an older man gave me this old book that featured some game reviews and game walk-throughs. One of the walk-throughs happened to be of MGS. Even though I had no idea what it was talking about, I enjoyed this walk-through so much I read it all over again until one day I decided to get the game. A very similar story happened when I got the game Vagrant Story, but it wasn't quite as coincidential as this one. These coincidences happened so many times in my life I don't even really believe in coincidences anymore.

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