I think it's important to explain that major depression is not even peripherally related to "sadness." Depression is the absence of emotion. I never cried during my darkest periods of depression. Crying would have been A HOLIDAY. It would have been FUCKING CHRISTMAS. A fight or a feeling of anger would have been AN EASTER EGG HUNT AT DISNEYLAND.
I am vocal about my depression now because it was so fucking Satanically awful that I view it as one of my life's primary missions to help other people understand and overcome it.
Depression kills people because in the normal weather patterns of human emotion over a day or a week or a decade, actual unipolar major depressive disorder doesn't appear. It's like The Nothing in The Never-Ending Story. It eats your anger, your sadness, your happiness, your testicles and/or ovaries. Your solid shit. And it would love to kill you dead and attend your funeral and call your mother a cunt as you're lowered into the ground after a closed-casket funeral where everyone was mad at you. What's funny is how much less afraid I am now of anything life throws at me.
Another good way to illustrate how bad it is, is to say that it made being in jail in a wheelchair with four broken limbs feel like a cruise among the Greek Isles. (I've never been to the Greek Isles, but that's the first lovely thing that sprang to my currently nondepressed mind.) I might also add that while depressed, creativity or imagination is close to impossible. Those who think that depression is "good" for creative people may form a line and very aggressively blow me. I may be "creative" or a "weirdo" but I'm one thousand [literally] times more productive and useful to my fellow man when I'm firing on all happy cylinders. Just to be clear, I'd rather be in jail than depressed in my apartment. A jail sentence ends. You know roughly when it will end too. I would rather have four broken limbs in jail than be depressed and fully ambulatory and independent.
Broken bones knit and wounds heal. There is a commonly agreed upon method for fixing them too; you set them or stitch them up. Properly and thoroughly treating depression is much touchier. There are numerous types of medication and therapies and any honest doctor will tell you that trying to fix it involves rolling the dice, or, as they might call it, "trial and error." What a horrible term.
I am very, very ecstatically happy to report that the first medication my psychiatrist prescribed, worked. For the record, it was Lexapro, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. I remember sitting on his couch, sullen, emaciated, and folded in on myself, with dark circles under my eyes, wondering, "Can this Russian psychiatrist help me?" (Since the information flow in his office was primarily a one-way street from me to him, the only things I knew about him were that he was Russian, he had two kids, and he saw patients only one day a week. The other days he worked in the Los Angeles jail system.) He gave me a sample packet of Lexapro and a prescription. I left his office and drove to a pharmacy and bought a pill cutter because the first week I was only supposed to take half a pill. I remember sitting in my car and cutting the first pill and it shot out of the pill cutter and landed somewhere on the floor of my car. I panicked.
Even though I had a full prescription, I literally thought that the pills were little puzzle pieces that might add up to sanity for me, so the possibility of losing one half of one pill would be a travesty that couldn't be remedied. I found it under my seat after scouring my car's dirty floor and put it in my mouth.
That evening I felt an inkling of peace, not because the chemicals had begun to work, but because I felt I'd surrendered to the fact that other people cared about me and might have a better idea about what I should do to get better and because going to a psychiatrist, getting a prescription, and filling it was a tacit admission that even I believed (somewhere in my addled mind) that I deserved to feel better.
Gradually, I did begin to feel better. After a while I could brush my teeth without vomiting. My poops began to firm up and exit my butt as horrible solids rather than horrible liquid. After a couple of weeks, I noticed a familiar feistiness in my trousers, and when I addressed it, the amount of semen I produced was around seven hundred gallons. (I'm estimating.)
Most wonderful of all though: I could sleep again. I didn't wake up at 11:15 after having been asleep for 45 minutes and lie in bed terrified for seven hours. I began to interact with other people more at work and socially. I asked women on dates and sometimes they said yes.
Only a couple of months later, I did my first stand-up open mic.
This blog post is an extract from Rob Delaney's book Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.
Rob is currently on tour across America, tickets can be purchased here