|Duff McKagan is the founding bassist of Guns N' Roses and the leader of Seattle's Loaded. His column runs every Thursday on Reverb.|
Once in a while, life can kick our asses. Some of us have the chemical makeup that can rise to the occasion of these ass-kickings. Some of us have a great network of family and friends that somehow help us through. Others of us perhaps have neither of those favorable winds at our back.
Depression often will make us isolated from others and run from life in general. Being alone with one's own thoughts can and will be the most terrifying and dangerous place for the sufferer of most types of depression.
Some of us are born with the trait. Some of us go through something early OR later in life (or both early AND later) that can suddenly trigger a downward spiral.
I had never experienced real depression in my childhood or early adulthood. I had plenty of friends who did, but still I would scratch my head . . . and think to myself "Just snap out of it!" when friends did tell me of their issues regarding depression. But I HAVE suffered panic attacks for most of my life, and I do understand that chemical imbalances and other inputs can stack up against someone . . . way beyond the "Just snap out of it!" realm.
And then September 11, 2001 happened.
The world seemed to be in upheaval, and all fronts were under attack. Everything was suddenly fearful, and my own place on this earth seemed muddy and without bedrock. My daughters were 4 and 1, and suddenly my idealistic vision of being the perfect dad was acutely obscured by movements beyond my ability to control. I sunk into a thick, black state of being. Depression for the first time.
Ah hah. Yep. I get it. Depression IS in fact a real thing.
And once the door was opened to depression in my case, the monster became a living thing in my life. I could look at it and examine it after time, but in that initial instant, I did not see a light at the end of the tunnel.
The world seems to get scarier by the day. Bad jobs reports. Some asshole making an indie movie decrying another people's belief. The failing of our Republicans and Democrats to act in actual Congress. People getting hurt and killed in places like Afghanistan . . . and on . . . and on. But what I have found in fighting thoughts and feelings of depression is to actually talk and get out -- face the day head on if you can. "Today is going to be the best day in my history" is not a bad place to start. Share your "stuff" with others. Don't be afraid to do it. You may just be surprised by how many like-minded people there are out there. Depression and anxiety have touched most of us to some degree or another.
And some types of depression do need medical treatment.
Last week, there was a brave essay shared by man on the Internet. He has suffered a horrible fight with some serious depression, and decided to write about his journey thus far. I back this kind of guts and fortitude.
As you will see, Andrew Lawes has come through a ton of darkness, and has had the gift of a new baby to help him sort through his "stuff." Mr. Lawes was probably overwhelmed by the huge response he got back from fellow sufferers. You are not alone, my friend. Thanks for letting us in.
Again, THIS space is a forum for us all to exchange ideas. The world may seem dark and fucked-up and overwhelming, but we are the ones who will effect change, if there is change to be had.
There is a way out of depression -- you just got to get to a place to examine the monster.