Wil Wheaton's frank, brave speech about his depression and anxiety

Wil Wheaton has publicly discussed his anxiety and depression before; I know several people whose lives were improved by reading what he had to say.

Wil gave a speech on living with chronic depression and anxiety to NAMI Ohio’s statewide conference, Fulfilling the Promise. It's an excellent and moving piece, and part of a welcome genre of frank discussions by seemingly successful, happy together people about the black dog and their life with it. I don't have chronic depression, but have experienced several acute episodes of depression that were driven by situational circumstances; most recently I went through a hard time a year ago and saw a therapist for help with it. Part of how I dealt with it was to deliberately de-isolate myself, scheduling social time with friends (including, as it happens, Wil) to help me rediscover my equilibrium.

Physically, it weighs heavier on me in some places than it does in others. I feel it tugging at the corners of my eyes, and pressing down on the center of my chest. When it’s really bad, it can feel like one of those dreams where you try to move, but every step and every motion feels like you’re struggling to move through something heavy and viscous. Emotionally, it covers me completely, separating me from my motivation, my focus, and everything that brings me joy in my life.

When it drops that lead apron over us, we have to remind ourselves that one of the things Depression does, to keep itself strong and in charge, is tell us lies, like: I am the worst at everything. Nobody really likes me. I don’t deserve to be happy. This will never end. And so on and so on. We can know, in our rational minds, that this is a giant bunch of bullshit (and we can look at all these times in our lives when were WERE good at a thing, when we genuinely felt happy, when we felt awful but got through it, etc.) but in the moment, it can be a serious challenge to wait for Depression to lift the roadblock that’s keeping us from moving those facts from our rational mind to our emotional selves.

And that’s the thing about Depression: we can’t force it to go away. As I’ve said, if I could just “stop feeling sad” I WOULD. (And, also, Depression isn’t just feeling sad, right? It’s a lot of things together than can manifest themselves into something that is most easily simplified into “I feel sad.”)

So another step in our self care is to be gentle with ourselves. Depression is beating up on us already, and we don’t need to help it out. Give yourself permission to acknowledge that you’re feeling terrible (or bad, or whatever it is you are feeling), and then do a little thing, just one single thing, that you probably don’t feel like doing, and I PROMISE you it will help. Some of those things are:

Take a shower.

Eat a nutritious meal.

Take a walk outside (even if it’s literally to the corner and back).

Do something – throw a ball, play tug of war, give belly rubs – with a dog. Just about any activity with my dogs, even if it’s just a snuggle on the couch for a few minutes, helps me.

Do five minutes of yoga stretching.

Listen to a guided meditation and follow along as best as you can.

My name is Wil Wheaton. I live with chronic Depression, and I am not ashamed. [Wil Wheaton/Wil Wheaton Dot Net]

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