Today’s post comes from an anonymous guest writer who has figured out how to thrive after decades of being stuck in depression. I hope you enjoy these insights as much as I did.
Ways that a life living with years of depression has left me with challenges in
my new life.
When you live with depression, you spend all day everyday in your head. The only
person you talk to is yourself. The internet and tv and Netflix are your only
The result is a state of living in fantasy. When you come out of this state of
arrested development, there are challenges that I framed as fantasy versus
In fantasy, there are no consequences. You don’t hurt anyone’s feelings if you
don’t interact with anyone real. Fantasy people say whatever you’d like them to
say. These imaginary people in your head offer no feedback and no advice. When
you talk, your words mean nothing, they’re just words. When you talk to real
people, they usually assume your words mean something. Your promises are
expected to be binding.
There’s no making plans in fantasy, you can just leap to the best part. There’s
no reason you can’t just say you’ve slain the dragon and now you’re here to
marry the princess. In reality, there are steps in between where you are and
what you want.
Like tv, fantasy has no progress. Every ‘episode’ ends happily, and the next one
starts with a new fresh start. All is forgiven and forgotten. In reality you
have to push and push and keep up the effort to reach a worthwhile goal. Only
simple goals can be finished in a half an hour. And when depression keeps you
from finishing a plan, you have to start over when you get the gumption to get
back to it, if you get back to it at all.
Fantasy is like a single play in football, where every play ends in a touchdown.
There are no ‘plays’, no strategy. In life, you have to persist over many, many
plays, struggling for every yard. You don’t shoot for a touchdown every time.
You try for a first down, and then another and then another as you creep toward
the goal. You don’t learn strategies in fantasy, they aren’t needed.
Not only are there no steps in fantasy, there are no rewards. When the fantasy
is done, that world evaporates. In reality, whether you win or lose you get a
result. You will get a lesson. Fantasy offers no lessons.
There’s no time in fantasy. Things can take as long as you want, good times last
as long as you focus on them. In reality you have to put up with movies that are
over, and ushers that tell you it’s time to leave the building.
Fantasy has no friction. The world is like a smooth sheet of glass. You can fly
and glide and teleport across time and space. In reality the rubber has to meet
the road. The road provides the friction to move you forward. You have to have
friction, it’s the grip of the tires on the road.
In fantasy you can have perfection. The princess is flawlessly beautiful. The
castle is strong and well-built. In reality perfection is not only impossible,
chasing perfection will always get in the way of getting what’s ‘good enough’.
In reality you need to get things good enough and move on to the next thing. If
you don’t, you find yourself always far behind where you want to be because
you’re waiting for the ‘perfect’ opportunity. In reality the best way to move
forward fast is to get things good enough and then ask, “what’s next?”.
Fantasy is a road trip, and reality is moving and having a life.