There are, in my experience, two kinds of depressive episodes. The first leaves one lifeless and frowning. When I’m that kind of depressed, I watch “Critical Role“ while scrolling through Pinterest, or berate myself for not doing something productive while scrolling through Facebook. This historically is a bad idea, because I’ve never really liked Facebook and am not entirely sure why I still have an account, especially when Messenger can be used without one.
The second kind of depressive episode is rare, because it usually ends in some sort of huge, life-altering decision. When I’m that kind of depressed, I clean my room, rearrange my TBR (“to be read” list) on Goodreads, or update every single one of my bios on social media. I’m angry with myself for any number of things — wasting my life, procrastinating on my book, or reading comics instead of poetry collections. Because I’m depressed, I think that everything will turn out all right if I just work at it. So, instead of acknowledging that my brain just isn’t functioning the way it should, I busy myself with things that are supposed to make me feel better.
As you might have guessed, I’ve experienced both kinds of depressive episodes this past week. It has been, as they say, a “time.” I cannot tell you how many times I’ve refreshed Tumblr so far this month. Even if I could, I probably wouldn’t, because it’s probably an embarrassingly high number.
This happens every fall, but I’m trying to be proactive this year. I even bought one of those natural sunlight lamps the other day, in case my hunch is correct and I’m eventually diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder. The box is sitting next to my desk, still in its packaging. Maybe one day I’ll get around to setting it up.
This happens every fall, and by that I mean the first kind of depressive episode. So, I was surprised when, driven to productivity by the second kind of depressive episode, I binge-joined several dating sites a few days ago.
Those of you who have been reading my column for a while will remember that I’ve tried dating sites before. Late last summer, I even went as far as buying an OkCupid membership. It didn’t last long. Social anxiety is kind of an enemy when it comes to initiating conversation, and after a couple weeks of scrolling through dating profiles, I just gave up. It seemed hopeless. Call me fatalistic, but I didn’t see much point in trying to find love when the world seems bent on denying me it.
I don’t know what changed. Maybe it was the depression; maybe the existential dread of spending the rest of my life alone finally caught up with me. I can’t say either way. But instead of scrolling through Pinterest the other night, I scrolled through dating profiles while “Critical Role” played in the background. I messaged people, and more importantly, someone messaged back.
I feel different, which could be the depression — neurotransmitters, hormones, a change in the weather. But it’s nice. I’m still depressed, so I’m not saying that dating sites have taken the place of serotonin or anything like that, but it’s been a welcome change. I often feel hopeless, especially when it comes to dating; I don’t see the point in putting myself out there, having been socialized in feeling “less than” just because my body works a little differently. But I’m pushing past it. I’m saying no to the part of my brain that’s convinced I’m unlovable.
That, unlike many other depression activities, is actually productive.
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