The Cruel Irony Of Being A Humor Writer With Crippling Depression

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woman writing at night

As a humor writer, I try to write about everything.

It's basically all that I know how to do.

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But the thing about writing humor is that it sometimes makes me feel like I'm hiding behind a mask and pretending I'm something I'm not. Now, don't get me wrong: I'm a person who loves to laugh — and who loves to make other people laugh even more — but most of the time, that's not me, or at least that's not how I feel.

But it's hard to ignore what goes on in my head and even harder to write about depression. For one, there's the fear that writing about it makes you look weak and turns people off because it's not funny or light. Most people have their own problems, so why would they read about mine?

The other trouble is that it is often incredibly difficult to articulate just how I feel.

Deep depression is hard to understand, especially if you've never been there.

I have manageable days that, for me, usually include writing something I don't hate or spending time outside. In other words, I function and appear to be fine.

But then there are days — sometimes even that same day — when, like a virus, my depression flares up and all I can do is remind myself not to swerve my car over the center line or walk a little too close to the edge.

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These are the times that I should reach out, but the thing about depression is that it comes with the sense that you shouldn't have it to begin with, that it's a bunch of self-indulgent navel-gazing and not an actual illness like those that everyone can see looking in.

And so I swallow it down and isolate myself more, feeling that talking about it at all with people will only make me sound whiny. It's hard to explain that depression isn't like being sad and OCD, which I also have, isn't just "needing to clean," but rather that they are entirely crippling.

Unfortunately for me, depression has crippled me both physically and mentally.

My concentration is barely existent and more times than not I alternate between staring at my computer and feeling trapped behind a curtain too heavy to lift/inadequate in comparison to everyone else and doing unhealthy amounts of exercise in an attempt to distract myself and feel something, anything other than flat.

The effects devastate me not because of what they're doing to my body but because they take away the only coping mechanism that I feel like I have when everything feels like too much and yet not enough. The immediate consequences don't matter because, at that point, nothing really matters.

But that's what depression does.

It twists things around in your mind. Any activity takes many times more effort, like trying to run through quicksand. Work is boring and intolerable. What felt joyful feels dull and what felt sad feels unbearable. Everything seems meaningless, including previous accomplishments and anything you used to like.

Depression is truly the absence of hope.

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So why write this post?

Because ignoring that fact is ignoring what I deal with each day. But more importantly, maybe it's because of what you deal with, too, and hearing that others are in the same boat can be something you didn't even know you needed to hear.

After all, words have power. But this isn't a motivational speech with a happy ending or solution, as I have neither of those things. It's simply a reminder that you're not alone. You're not defective or broken or dealing with what you "deserve."

No, you're simply human.

You're doing the best that you can with the strength that you have. You're choosing to hold on to hope and to fight, and as much as I feel like I can't on some days, I choose to keep fighting as well.

It's basically all that I know how to do, but we don't have to do it alone.

And hopefully, at the end of the day, we can find something that makes us smile.

Sometimes that's all — and everything — that we might need.

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Abby Heugel is a freelance writer and editor. Her work has been featured multiple times in The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Thought Catalog, Bustle, XOJane, In the Powder Room, and Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in March of 2015. 

This article was originally published at Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.