I have a hot case of undiagnosed seasonal depression. If I’m self-diagnosing, though, I could probably go as far as to say that I’m depressive most of the year, but during the winter and summer months I get worse. Maybe I should say I have seasonal clinical depression?
I’m fine and I laugh and I go out most of the year, but whenever the weather changes drastically I get very introverted. Suddenly I have no interesting in being with other people and my self-confidence—what little there was to begin with—plummets like a hawk going in for the kill.
It’s been like this for as long as I can remember and I’ve learned to push through the seasonal changes. The real problem occurs when I don’t realize it’s happening.
You see, at times I’ve found myself severely depressed and I have to stop and ask, “When did that happen?” Like someone turning your bedroom light off while you’re deep asleep, and not realizing it until you wake up the next day, my mental health would tip-toe off in the night.
Thus I found ways of keeping track of my level of depression when I would otherwise be allowed to forget about it until I was in too deep. Ways like noting the number of times I’ve gone out to be with friends in the past month; how late I allow myself to sleep in; and how often I buy lottery tickets.
Lottery tickets. However absurd the very idea is, they help me realize faster than anything else that I’m slipping away into the isolation of my mind.
Half a decade ago I was buying them two, three, or more times a week. Then, when I started investing in more realistic financial endeavors, I cut back to once or twice a month. Eventually I was down to twice a year—once around Christmas, once for my birthday (or, one in winter, one in summer).
However, there would be times when I would catch myself buying them up once or twice a week again. I stopped and looked at myself, only to realize the reason: I was depressed.
Now, there is a certain direct connection between my depression and money—in that I get depressed when I have none. Whoever came up with that old phrase of “money does not buy happiness” was more than likely in deep denial. But there is also a more subtle connection: The fantasy.
I never win; not even my dollar back from a few matching numbers. Never. In fact, I find it highly improbable the number of times I’ve not gotten a single number right. Somewhere in the past few years, however, I stopped playing for the money and kept playing for the fantasy
I could fall asleep at night thinking about what if and the kind of person I could be if only. I didn’t expect to win, but having that slip of paper in my wallet allowed me to live the fantasy—if only for a day or two.
There’s a phone number on the back of lottery tickets for gambling addiction. But where’s the number for fantasy addiction? I would say that paying sixty dollars for a video game is the equivalent, but playing video games at least gives me better hand-eye coordination! Lottery tickets give me nothing, except a false sense of hope.
I hear people talk a lot about mental health. Unfortunately it’s usually in regards to real psychopaths—and usually right after a large number of people have died at the hands of one. People hardly ever talk about depression as mental health, and when they do, they treat it like a wart you can will away. They want to say, “If you’re feeling depressed, go get some help” like I can jog down to the corner store for an over-the-counter prescription that’ll make things better.
But pills don’t make things better. They mask your true emotions so that you can pretend to be happier than you really are. Chemical imbalances exist in some people, but I truly believe the majority of us are just sad. It’s not about medication, it’s about learning to become happy—something that is much easier said than done.
And this is where the problem comes full tilt: Because as long as we can think of depression as something that’s cured with a pill, we can think of it as a health issue. When you get into therapy and counseling, though, then you’re a hippie-dippie sort and why should my tax dollars go toward your alternative medicine!
We’re a depressed nation and until we can get together and think about why we’re depressed and how to fix it once and for all, we’re going to remain that way.
But, hey, at least that’s good for the lotto people.
Hey! A quick note at the end of this depressing piece: My Etsy shop is back up and running with a few items. You can head on over to see what I’ve put up.