Clinical Depression is not “being sad”: A transitional introduction

Clinical Depression is not “being sad”: A transitional introduction

 

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@svetz17

“You just need to buck up.”

“Get over it.”

“Quit whining.”

“Move on.”

“Be happy.”

You’ve heard at least one of these clichés in your life during times of strife and discourse.

Situationally, these cliches can hurt in the moment regardless of the problem weighing you down. Whether it’s trouble in a personal relationship, career trajectory, grief or even just the simple “bad day,” we all hurt. Due to the melancholy surrounding  you during these times, people just want you to “get over it.”

And you do.

Life goes on. You work out the personal relationship, change career paths, get through the grieving process and rebound from that one bad day. However, for people with clinical depression, these everyday challenges can become substantially more difficult to overcome because their mind actively fights to maintain the low and continue the pessimistic view.

I know this because I was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 11, but I can think back to feeling different and unhappy during preschool.

Depression is a universal trait that any living thing can succumb to. Many people experience tough times leading to situational depression, which can be worked out over time. Eventually, they get over the issue and move forward. Clinical depression comes from hereditary genetics, but doesn’t fully manifest itself unless a trauma occurs, usually during childhood or adolescence.

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My trauma isn’t abuse or a bad family life, I’ve lived a comfortable life and my parents have been incredibly supportive of my endeavors.

My trauma was knowing I was different compared to my peers as early as five years old. That feeling of isolation and alienation that sets in when you aren’t like every other five year old and teachers don’t think you’re “normal” because you aren’t mindlessly enjoying being a kid can be quite detrimental to your self-esteem and self-worth.

It creates a chemical imbalance in your brain that makes you attracted to negativity, sarcasm, cynicism and skepticism. Additionally, it pushes your view to focus on the negative and take less light of the positive subconsciously. It also leaves you susceptible to falling into feelings of hopelessness, low self-worth, low self esteem, sadness and suicidal thoughts due to the inability to see things getting better. But, it blesses you with a unique and enigmatic perspective. It grounds you in reality and strengthens your analytical view, insights, critical thinking and makes you challenge what constitutes “normal.”

While everyday challenges can become more difficult due to the chemical imbalance and pessimistic-leaning perspective, it can be managed. When controlled, mental illness fosters great creativity and other desirable traits.

 

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With that, I want to bring you into the mind of the clinically depressed.

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I want to help eliminate the stigma surrounding it and show with proper therapy, medication and coping skills how a unique perspective to challenge the world can be a blessing. I’m not saying I speak completely for everyone afflicted, but, I hope with a combination of perspective writing, poetry, short fiction and reflections I can improve understanding and showcase the different thought processes and viewpoints someone with clinical depression has to the everyday interactions of life while also expressing my joys, hopes, frustrations and fears with the world authentically. Hopefully, my writing shows others afflicted with clinical depression and other mental illnesses that they aren’t alone and there are people who feel the same way they do and have been there before.

Who I am has a lot to do with how my perspective differs from many due to clinical depression, essentially it’s an identifying trait that dually curses and blesses me.

The truth is, normalcy is all in perspective and it’s time to let you into our “normal.”

I’ll also touch on stigma and viewpoint of mental illness as a whole to demystify and improve understanding towards mental illness. Clinical depression is not “being sad,” it’s a unique perspective that happens to lean towards pessimism. When untreated, it can become overwhelming and destructive, but when monitored and treated, the depressed change and challenge our world.

If I still feel like I can’t comfortably circle on a job application that I have a mental illness or can’t openly admit to having a mental illness without fear of stigma, or even worse—pity, than despite the growing understanding and acceptance of depression and other mental illnesses, there’s still work to be done.

 

 

Teddy

Teddy

@svetz17

He’s seen better days.

The stuffing has started to fall out of his belly. When he first arrived, his eyes were dark black without a scratch on them. His fur was a radiant light brown. On his face sat a painted black smile, a smile you could trust. He was soft, warm and felt like love.

He traveled everywhere. He loved strolls in the park, but he enjoyed the thrill of the ball games. He knew when it was time to hide inside. He never minded being inside. No matter how long he had to stay there.

He was a friend. Now, he’s ragged, ripped and torn apart by adolescence.

He was Teddy.

He was loved. 

-From an assignment I wrote in Denny Wilkins class. We were asked to write about an object that had meaning to us. I struggled to find something for a while and then I thought of my childhood teddy bear. Honestly, I had to choke back some tears when I wrote this. I figured it would interest someone and maybe relate to the phases of growing up as we outgrow the things we once loved.

Where It All Went Wrong

Where It All Went Wrong

@svetz17

She left yesterday, but returned today. It made me feel good, yet caused me strain. I wish I could quit you, but I know it’s in vain.

The needle’s too precious, as it enters my vein. Spinning and wondering, where’d it go wrong? Fell on the floor, the feeling’s gone.

I try to get up, but it’s no use. My body refuses to take the abuse.

So here I lay, dead to the world.

Wondering where it all went wrong.

– From an assignment I wrote in Denny Wilkins class. It was supposed to be Twitter Fiction, but it became a poem. Purely fiction.

 

 

The First Day of Seasonal Depression

@svetz17

I remember feeling happy yesterday.

Today, I woke up and felt empty.

I look outside, the sun has vanished.

Large stormy clouds have swallowed up the UV rays once present.

The glow of sunshine has been replaced by the gloomy and black shadows overcast.

Rain falls vigorously, splattering onto the ground, taunting the once beautiful grass.

I don’t feel that smile I had before.

The last few days I’ve woken up to a glow in my bedroom.

Now that’s been replaced by a dark and dim light barely penetrating through my window.

I rise from my bed.

I usually put on some Kanye West and Lil Uzi to get jazzed up for the day.

Today, I’m drawn to Drake “Know Yourself,” introspective Mac Miller and Earl Sweatshirt’s latest project.

All three use somber beats and in Earl’s case, it’s one of the most isolated hip hop albums I’ve ever heard.

I shouldn’t listen to this stuff.

I should try to fake happy.

I can’t, not today.

I’m going through the motions — I’ve decided.

I’ll still dap you up, but know it comes from more necessity today than anything.

We have to keep up appearances, its human nature.

It’s not that I don’t like you.

But today — I’m not real.

I’m not myself.

Or maybe I’m more myself than I ever am, depends who you ask.

The day’s begun, time to go to my class I could care less about.

If I had it my way I’d stay in all day listening to music and sleeping.

But I have responsibilities.

It’s time to kick myself in the ass and get in gear.

As I walk outside the rain trickles down and seeps into my hair.

Well damn, I tried.

After all the pep talks I’m back to square one.

Now what?

Sad music again should help me cope.

I can’t shake the feeling today’s not going to go the way I want as I drive my broken down Subaru to class.

I park my car, there’s the rain again.

I put my hood up to deflect it, but it’s no use.

It’s coming down harder than before.

I only have a few yards to walk, but it feels like eternity.

I’m off today.

I like to call it a “fog.”

Most people with depression have a name for it.

I walk into the room and I’m late.

I’m usually late to class, procrastination gets the best of me.

But today I’m not having fun with it.

I sit down immediately, look forward and zombify.

I’m not even checking my laptop.

Today, I’m zoning out and contemplating life.

Well, I do that every day.

However, today I’m not real.

Class has ended.

Usually I grab something to eat, hang with friends, do something social, but not today.

My hood goes back up.

I get in my car and put on another down-tempo song and drive off.

I’m back home now, still down.

I couldn’t tell you what would actually help me right now.

Maybe I’ll get on my computer.

I have mad shit to do today.

Huh, that’s odd, a blank word document seems to have not been used.

I guess I’ll write.

An hour passes.

I finished my piece.

I feel better.

Sure, the sky has stayed gloomy and the rain continues to pour, but I feel better.

I wouldn’t say happy, but better.

For someone experiencing the effects of seasonal depression for the first time this year — that’s good.

I’m still not myself, but I’m better.

The fog has lifted.

I’m whole again.

Everything Happens For a Reason

yut@svetz17

Up front, I’m not much of a religious person.

However, I do believe some spiritual force tinkers with our lives.

Through my experiences, I’ve come to find “everything happens for a reason” is much more than a stupid cliché’.

Growing up, I had some trying times.

I dealt with depression in some form all my life.

I also dealt with social anxiety, which I believe I’ve had since birth.

It’s hard enough to come of age as is, but to navigate childhood when you hadn’t yet experienced true happiness created a lot of issues early on.

I had friends, but I never fit in with the crowd.

When other kids played kickball and hung out on the playground, I was writing stories, creating TV shows, making bands, literally creating my own world.

At the time, I thought I was just an aloof that would never be able to use my hobbies as a profession.

But now, I realize my creativity as a kid prepped me for my career aspirations today.

The fantasy lands in my head showcased my creativity, and with the right tools, I’ve channeled that energy constructively.

Making 32-team Madden franchises and commentating all the games was just prep for my broadcasting career.

Writing short stories and tracking all the data from my endeavors in countless notebooks just got me ready to become a writer.

It’s funny how things work out.

Here I sat sulking about my predicament, when it all paid off as my life moved forward.

What to learn from this?

Next time you have a trying time, try and find the silver lining. Then, once you’re over it, wait a little bit.

Sometimes, that situation you considered a curse ended up being a blessing in disguise.

Sometimes good things have to fall apart to make room for something better.

Remember, everything in your life is either a blessing or a lesson.

Cherish the former, learn from the latter.

Thank You, Kid Cudi

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@Svetz17

Preface:

Today is World Mental Health Day. I want to make something clear. Asking for help isn’t a weakness — its a strength. It’s much easier to let mental health issues win rather than fighting them. If you’re in pain — get help. If you know someone in pain–talk to them, try to help them or find a professional who can. Going to therapy is not a sign of weakness. If your therapist doesn’t work out, find another one. Sometimes it takes several to find one that works. Be like Cudi, be strong, ask for help. This battle is not yours alone — we’re all in this together.  

 

Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi.

Musician, actor, producer, director, artist, writer, comedian, a true genius and one of the most talented human beings alive.

But sadly, a troubled person, as many tortured geniuses through history have been.

Seeing Cudi enter rehab for depression and suicidal urges hurts my heart.

Like the late Kurt Cobain, Cudi helped me and countless others through some of the most difficult periods of life.

Now, all I want to do is give back.

But how do you give back to someone in pain?

By telling them how much they mean to you.

My problems don’t match Cudi’s.

I’m a well-off kid from a two-parent household in the suburbs.

But in my life, I’ve felt out of place.

The true genius of Cudi came from his ability to connect to the dreamers of the world.

I consider myself such.

The soundtrack to my life consisted largely of Cudi.

When I felt down about myself due to others, I put on “Heart of a Lion.”

When I recluse into my shell due to over-analysis, I put on “These Worries.”

When I felt overwhelmed with negative energy, I put on “Just What I Am.”

And when I heard people talk shit about things going on in my life, I put on “Too Bad I Have to Destroy You Now.”

For me, no matter how alone I felt, Cudi always understood. His versatility of music matched any mood I had.

Joy, anxiety, isolation, depression, retribution — anything.

In particular, I remember my sophomore year of college, just a little over a year ago.

I was kicked out of a living situation with people I thought were going to be life-long friends. I’ve since reconciled with them, but that’s not the point.

I remember feeling defeated, alone, isolated.

I walked outside and sat on the bleachers near our soccer stadium, contemplating my situation.

I put “Solo Dolo” on repeat and suddenly I didn’t feel alone.

 

Of course I was still extremely depressed, but from that song, I heard lyrics like; “Why must it feel so wrong when I try and do right…do right?” and “Look at me, you tell me, just what you see | Am I, someone whom, you may love, or enemy? | Am I, speaking for, you and yours, or someone else? | I need some answers.”

It spoke to me.

I said to myself, “he gets it.”

And Cudi refused to let you stay in that dark place.

The final verse: “Listen good: I don’t need nobody | This is what you feel are the sounds of insanity | Hoping what I hear loops itself to finish me | No, I won’t be afraid.”

With this, Cudi is saying it’s ok to feel alone, it’s a strength to be able to handle the world on your own.

It only increases your chances of success; it’s a blessing, not a curse.

Rap Genius says this song is a message to critics of his music. But music acts as an interpretive art form.

For me, it was about getting through a period of alienation.

For someone else, it could be about a lost parent, a breakup, anything that matches the somber mood.

That’s the beauty of music: it acts as a catalyst to your emotions. 

The power of music knows no bounds and Cudi proved that.

His legions of fans defend him to the end because he identified with us.

Cudi spoke for a generation of outcasts, misfits and star-gazers.

Now, it’s time to give back to him.

For all the missed social events.

For all the nights stuck in my room contemplating life.

For all the thoughts about what the hell I wanted out of life.

Thank you, Kid Cudi. Thank you for understanding when no one else could.

 

The Mid-Year Top 10 Hip Hop Releases

The Mid Year Top 10 Hip Hop Releases

WOW, what a year so far for hip hop! From Kendrick Lamar’s instant classic, To Pimp a Butterfly to quality releases from ASAP Rocky and Vince Staples we’ve been spoiled so far this year. As we wait to see if 2015 gets even better in the world of hip hop, let’s countdown the BEST the world of hip hop has to offer so far. This is The Mid-Year Top 10 Hip Hop Releases.

A couple things to mention first though. Notice how I said releases instead of albums. That’s because I’m including LPs, EPS, short EPs and mixtapes. Also, I’ve listened to a lot of great releases, but admittedly have not heard it all so I may miss some of your favorites. Also, leaks will not count in terms of the date. If something leaked December 26th 2014, but was released January 1st, 2015 then it still counts.

So without further ado, let’s get at it!

Honorable Mentions: Mr. Wonderful- Action Bronson, the Growing Process- Dizzy Wright, F.I.L.A- Raekwon, Dreams Worth More Than Money- Meek Mill, Dark Sky Paradise- Big Sean

  1. Special Effects- Tech N9ne

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Tech is one of my personal favorites as he has the ability to elevate whoever he’s with on a song. I mean, come on, he made B.O.B interesting! But Tech can still carry a project himself and in Special Effects he shows people he’s not just a feature artist. The thing Tech does the best with is bangers and there are plenty throughout this album. From the Gangster anthem, On the Bible, featuring one of the best T.I features I’ve ever heard. To Bass Ackwards, a fun song that details what each rapper thinks is… well Bass Ackwards. If you don’t get the pun then I feel for you. Bangers aside, Tech shows versatility on this album with haunting tracks like Shroud and mainstream club tracks like Hood Go Crazy. While I’m not sure its Tech’s best project, it’s definitely worth checking out and has slipped under the radar unfortunately. Go check this shit out!

  1. Tetsuo and Youth- Lupe Fiasco

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Lupe Fiasco is a fantastic rapper who consistently puts out solid work and his latest is no exception. Lupe’s social conscious raps come through well here. Whether he’s talking about the hood being so bad that Pizza won’t even be delivered in Deliver, or the deep, multi layered Little Death, Lupe touches on all social issues. While this album is very good, it suffers from the thing that has hurt Lupe his whole career. There is not many breaks from the heavy social and political issues on the album and the production isn’t very lively. It can get a bit overbearing in one sitting and I don’t find myself coming back to it that much. Overall though, it’s still a solid piece of work that deserves a listen.

  1. A Special Episode Of EP- Open Mike Eagle

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I tell you what! If you want something different and interesting then Open Mike Eagle is for you! Known as a big player in the indie rap game, but still criminally underrated, OME follows up his excellent Dark Comedy with a great six song EP that satisfies the fans. From the time OME spits about the world around him in Dark Comedy Late Show, to the end where he talks about his warped head in Ziggy Starfish, OME gives you everything that makes him one of the most unique rappers in the game. I recommend listening through the whole thing, but if you must only check out one track let it be Ziggy Starfish, as its one of the best tracks of the year.

  1. Summertime ‘06- Vince Staples

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While I admit my initial excitement has waned with additional listens, there is no denying that Vince Staples still gave us a solid follow up to his excellent short EP Hell Can Wait. Yes, there are definitely some weak songs sprinkled throughout the album. However, when Staples is on point the highlights of the album stand out tremendously. In the end though, only one thing matters. Does it bump in the whip!? Well, YES, yes it does and songs like Norf Norf, Street Punks, Senorita and Loca feature heavy bass that’s perfect for driving around at any time. Overall, while it may not be the huge step forward we all wanted Staples to take, it does put him on the radar and establishes him as a player in the rap game for years to come.

  1. Pronto-EP Freddie Gibbs

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No bullshit here, this may be the BEST under 5 song EP I’ve ever heard. All three of these songs just bump tremendously. I’ve had this EP on replay since I discovered it 3 weeks ago. I understand its only three songs, but god damn does it go hard! You need to check this shit out right now, trust me on this, especially White Range, which is one of my favorite tracks this year so far.

  1. B4. Da. $$- Joey Bada$$

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I liked this one as soon as it came out, but it’s just gotten better with age. Despite what Pitchfork said, this album met my expectations and puts Joey on the cusp of top 10 rapper status. Even the weaker songs like NO.99 and Belly of the beast have their charm. Of course, the good is endless with Run up on Ya, Christ Conscious, Big Dusty, Teach Me How to Dance and much, MUCH more. So give this one a listen, fuck what pitchfork says. Seriously they gave Because the Internet by Childish Gambino a 5 and Drake’s latest disappointment an 8… what the fuck.

  1. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside- Earl Sweatshirt

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Let’s be real here. As much as I like Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt is probably the best thing to come out of the Odd Future experiment with Frank Ocean trailing a half step behind. Earl admitted that he didn’t feel comfortable with his previous release Doris despite being regarded highly by many fans. Well this time out, he not only sounds comfortable—he sounds in control. Throughout this barely half hour album, Earl paints us a bleak picture of society and how he sees the world, while also putting his problems and insecurities out there for everyone to hear. We are Earl’s therapist in this release. While there isn’t much in terms of upbeat tracks, this album works because of earl’s delivery and confidence. As well as its atmosphere, while still providing the signature Earl flow. It may not be the most accessible record, but Earl doesn’t give a flying fuck what you think, and it shows on this album. Admittedly, it’s a required taste, and if you don’t like it I don’t blame you, but for those who love Earl’s raps—you will not be disappointed.

  1. Mailbox Money- Nipsey Hussle

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While it can be debated whether this was released on December 31st or January 1st it can’t be debated that Nipsey out did himself this time. As one of the most underrated rappers in the game, Nipsey releases a master piece that flew way too far under the radar. Honestly, I only counted one bad song on this mixtape. Other than that, I don’t even want to recommend any songs because they are all good. Give this one a try and give Nipsey his due, he’s just too good to not be in the top 10 or 15 rapper conversation.

  1. At Long Last A$AP- A$AP Rocky

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At long last indeed! This album may be one of the most pleasant surprises of the year! While I am an ASAP fan, I have to admit, I didn’t think he was capable of this. ALLA is a hard hitting, spacey and trap heavy record where ASAP absolutely asserts himself as the king of all facets of trap-hip hop. From trap-chill to Gangster rap, ASAP gives us what trap should be… get your fucking Fetty Wap out of here! This is the definition of “Bumps in The Whip,” and makes the Aux cord catch on fire with tracks like Canal Street, Excuse Me, Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2, Everyday and my personal favorite Max B. Also, ASAP brings out the best in Lil Wayne, as Wayne’s verse on M$ is one of the best verses we’ve heard out of the former self-proclaimed “best rapper alive.” I’m sure you’ve heard it already, but if you haven’t… WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING GO LISTEN TO IT NOW!

  1. To Pimp a Butterfly- Kendrick Lamar

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Honestly, what can I say that already hasn’t been said about this album? It’s challenging, diverse, haunting, fun, smart and perfect. It is our generation’s Illmatic, yes, you read that right. Kendrick is on another level right now that no one can touch. In a very short time he has created 2 of the top 20, if not top 10 greatest rap albums of all time with this and Good Kid M.A.A.D City. This album has already changed radio, forced artists to step up their game, made funk and soul more accepted in mainstream rap, changed what we call mainstream rap and has brought to attention social issues especially with the way race and sex issues are being handled in our country right now. There’s no doubt in my mind, this is the best album of the year and nothing released this year touches it.

Did I miss any of your favorites?

Let me know, follow me @Svetz17 and make your voice heard. Share this if you liked it.

Thanks for reading.