I got better

“Is everything okay?” Anne asked me. She sat at our counter, and I stood on the other side, next to the microwave, watching my bowl of soup slowly turn around inside it.”

“No, it’s not,” I said, “I’m having a terrible day, and I know it’s because my brain is fucked up and I know it’s going to eventually get better but right now I just want to fucking scream because I feel irritable and anxious and overwhelmed and I know that there’s no logical reason to feel any of these things, but I also know that it’s my fucked up broken brain and I can’t do anything about it so I feel helpless and angry.”

I am, as you can tell, the master of the run on sentence.

“I’m trying really hard not to blow up at you for something you didn’t do, or yell at the dogs for barking, or just freaking out at everything … but it is really fucking hard and I’m just sick of this shit.”

The microwave beeped and I reached in to take the soup out.

“OUCH GODDAMMIT MOTHER FUCKER SHIT COCK FUCK SHIT FUCK!” I shouted, which is “Wil’s having a bad depression day” for “This bowl is very hot and I should have used something to protect my hands before I touched it.”

I yanked my hands out of the microwave, and took several deep breaths. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m really struggling today.”

“It’s okay,” she said.

“It’s not okay, but I appreciate you being patient with me.” I thought about the years — at least a decade — we were together before I got help for my depression. I thought about all the years that Anne and our kids had to deal with me freaking out at stupid things for no rational reason. I felt guilty, like I always do, even though I know that it wasn’t my fault.

I got a hot pad, and took my soup out. I waited several minutes for it to cool off, and I ate it. It was delicious.

Anne went to bed a little earlier than I did, and Seamus was snuggled up next to her when I got into bed. I slept soundly through the night, and woke up to Marlowe’s little puppy face just a few inches from mine. I kind of love it that she gets it into her head between 930 and 10 every morning that it’s time for me to get out of bed, so I get to wake up to a happy puppy every morning.

I pet her little face, and took a sort of emotional inventory. I noticed that all my systems were running normally, and the Very Bad No Good Day of Depression had passed. I felt as close to normal as I can feel, which is probably about 97% of normal (but who really wants to be completely normal anyway? Normal is boring.)

I got out of bed, made some coffee and oatmeal, and started my day. A few hours later, I went to a very important meeting. I can’t talk about the meeting I had, but it’s for something I love, something I’m super excited and proud to be part of, and something I hope I can talk about soon. The meeting could not have gone better, and as I walked to my car after it was finished, I was grateful for the incredible creative team I’m working with, and excited for our future together.

So I got better, and that’s the reason I’m putting these words down right now. I have depression, but depression doesn’t have me. I have bad days, I have really terrible days, and I have MMMMMARRAAAHHH days, like I did yesterday. Those days suck, but they always pass, and knowing why they happen, even if I can’t control them, gives me a great deal of comfort on the truly awful days.

If you’d told me yesterday, when I was at the nadir of my MMMMMARRAAAHHH that I would spend significant time today sitting in a room with people I like, alternately laughing my ass off and marveling at how clever and creative they are, I probably would have told you to stop being mean to me, because there was no way I’d ever be happy again.

And yet.

Thank you, hundreds-of-thousands-of-people-I’ve-never-met, for being kind to me when I was having a really MMMMMARRAAAHHH day. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

247 thoughts on “I got better”

  1. Wow. Just wow Wil. Thank you so much for being transparent about your depression. I’ve been making a lot of hard decisions about how I’m going to manage and treat my depression. A few days ago I had a mmmmmarraaahhh day and during those days it’s soooo hard to remember that tomorrow or the next day it will be better.

    Thank you for reminding me.

  2. Your posts on battling and dealing with depression really resonated with me. Thank you. And I’m glad you’re having a better day. Those good days are kind of like inoculations against the darkness.

  3. well, I am bi polar and I am a writer and when things aren’t good they seriously aren’t good. So I know the depth of a bad day and can appreciate that you, like me, are not alone. I with think of you and when I have a day, or a few, when the brain is having its own little world spasm I will know I am not alone, just so long as you do the same thing. While love cannot cure everything, it really does interrupt the nasty stuff.

  4. You have no idea how much I needed to read this I literally just got home after spending 5 hours in the ER with my husband with what we have figured out was a severe anxiety/panic attack. We have been married for almost 9 years and even though he always was a bit anxious by nature, his attacks have now grown to be a daily thing and so much so, that he has been forced to take medical leave from work for at least a month. He has now begun to experience the beginnings of depression. I myself have struggled with depression since junior high and have been able to manage it successfully for quite some time. For so long, my husband suffered and I could do nothing but watch him and try to convince him that it wasn’t something that was going to get better on its own. Not unlike most stubborn husbands, he always said he could handle it on his own. He would have his episodes of anxiety and then frustration and then anger, which usually I was the target of. He never struck me with this hands but his words hurt much deeper and still hurt me when I think back on some of the things he said. Mostly they were that I was unloving and uncaring and didn’t show him that I loved him enough. That broke my heart into pieces because my very act of staying with him and loving him despite what he did or said was my way of proving to him that I really did love him. No one who did not truly love someone would put up with that amount of turmoil. Our children also suffered greatly. Nothing hurts a mother like hearing your 6 year old daughter sobbing and asking ” Why is my daddy so mean to me? Is it because he doesn’t love me?” My 3 year old son just doesn’t understand why daddy doesn’t want to take him to the movies or the park. How do you tell him that daddy’s scared of being in crowds and has an anxiety attack at even the thought of it? It has been a rough road for us but we are hopeful now that, with the proper medical professionals and support system, things are looking up and after a very long time, we see the light at the end of the tunnel .I prepare myself for the rough road that we are just beginning to walk down, but we have hope and I hold on tightly to the day that he can have wonderful days again. Your post renews hope for me that not only couples but families can survive thru rough times such as these and come out the other end much stronger and happier. So, thank you for sharing this at this very moment because I really needed to hear it:)

    1. Emmy, I’m sorry ur family is going thru so much .. it took my dad until he was in his 60s to even believe he had a problem that needed help, his mother before him didn’t ask 4 help 4 herself & he had grown up believing he had to pretend these issues don’t exist … When I realised that my son was the 4th generation of this family to suffer in the same way, i got help 4 myself, because I knew I was inflicting a childhood on my son, just like mine & my father’s before me … It’s a daily struggle sometimes, but as I explained to my son, we seem to lash out at the ones we love the most because no-one else will take it, or listen to allow us to express the pain inside … My dad apologised to me in his 60s 4 the things he did & said, I apologised to my own son in my 40’s, but my grandmother never accepted any responsibility 4 her actions at all … My son is now fully aware that we hv a genetic pre-disposition to these issues & we hv to work hard to make sure they don’t take over & destroy our relationships … I love my son & loved my father with all my heart & I regret deeply the choices i hv made under the influence of this condition, the love I get from my son is what gets me thru it… He cooks 4 me, gives me hugs, tells me i’m beautiful & leaves me lil surprise notes in unexpected places … U can’t imagine how much those lil things help … We still lash out however, from time to time when we’re not coping – fortunately those times are far less than they used to be … Ur husband needs help to learn coping mechanisms to control his condition better & u need support, so that u can go on giving the unconditional love that u do … Sending much love x

  5. I go through bouts of this shit every few years; I know how rough they can be. Hang in there man, it always gets better.

  6. Depression sucks… that’s all there is to it! But look forward to the future and just pray that there’s more good days than shitty days. I’ve been having a rough go of things after being injured in the military. I’ve got okay days and bad days and sometimes, almost a ‘happy’ day… take advantage of the puppy wake ups and knowing that you are making HIS/HER day, every day by just being around…. :) Thanks for writing!

  7. *there is no emotion for one raised eyebrow so I’m just going to type it out and let you imagine it in this space instead of all these words*

    Do you really mean “normal” or do you mean 97% of where you want to be?

    1. I can’t speak for Wil, but for me, 97% of ‘normal’ as in what healthy people experience, is a goal and if I reach it, it’s as good as it gets for me. Personally I don’t know that I every break 85% but each day is new. Where we want to be is relative and subjective; it changes all the time. One of the ways to live with depression is to accept where we are at any time and do the best we can in that moment. I suspect he means 97% of being depression free. There’s always a dark cloud on our horizons.

      1. Unfortunately for me, that 97% of “normal” is almost the Impossible Dream. Being non-neurotypical (i.e. diagnosed with Asperger syndrome since 1994) is a major factor in the fact that somedays (like today) my brain doesn’t work.

  8. Wow. I can say that I understand, Wil. I am 10 years your elder, but I have been seeking relief for depression and especially anxiety for about 7 years now. I had a heart attack at the age of 43, followed by a recommendation to take Effexor for depression and anxiety. It has helped, especially the anxiety part… but I have given up a lot to make things work… like work… been unemployed for 5 years… my wife makes a good income as a Nurse, etc. We are lucky that way. I think you feel so much more pressure than I do, since you are perhaps expected to be the bread winner. Just be cool and try not to obsess about too many things. Reducing the obsessive issues really helps.

  9. Absolutely brilliant post. I know exactly how you feel as I too suffer from depression and have days just like the one you described. Thank you for sharing your struggles. It helps people like me remember that we are not alone with these feelings and episodes. And hopefully it helps people who don’t suffer from depression or other mental illness understand what we go through.

  10. I so appreciate that you are willing to share all your days. They shed light on how this really feels to those who have no frame of reference – thank goodness they don’t – and articulates what I have trouble expressing.

  11. Thank you for putting your emotion out there. As a wife of someone who goes through these days, it’s a comfort just to know we are not alone. You are awesome!

  12. I had over 10 years of bad never good days, and now I am back on top of things. One thing that you have is your family standing by you. Please keep hugging your family. I, foolishly hid my depression and illness from my family and isolated myself by moving away from my hometown. But, after working with some great therapists I have found my way back to my family and friends and they are glad to see me. I smile all the time and I have big plans that are coming to fruition-I am going to Film School in the new year.
    Wil, thank you for being so open about your struggle with depression, it is a sign of strength. All the best…..

    A fellow actor, writer, and sci-fi geek,

    Shaun

  13. Thank you for sharing this. I could have written this post word for word (except cock…I don’t usually say cock in my cussing stream). It is a tremendous relief to see that someone I admire goes through the same roller coaster shit I do.

  14. Wil, we once reported poker together in The Rio. I’m the “Irish Guy”, I wont blame you if you dont remember :)

    Two years ago I wrote my version of “I Got Better” here:http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2056481009
    And something *wonderful* happened….. :)

    I’d love to hear from you (you have my email from this comment) but either way I have such respect for you speaking about our conmon brokenness. I know how hard that is for me, I cant imagine how hard it is for you.

    Tom.

    1. It is so great to hear from you! I still see some of the guys from the old days, and I remember our time at The Rio quite fondly. Thanks for the link, and thanks for the ping.

  15. About a year ago, you posted something about how you finally decided to get help.Shortly after that, at my lowest I’ve ever felt,I (with a lot of push from my husband) decided to get help for myself. At the time I felt literally hopeless. I was so bad I didn’t care that my performance was shit at my job, or I was at risk of getting fired from it. I feel incredibly lucky my bosses decided to give me another chance.

    I never got suicidal, and your post helped my realize that just because I didn’t want to kill myself didn’t mean I shouldn’t get help. I was crying and beating myself up almost every day, but i never felt it was worth getting help. I felt didn’t need help and eventually I would pull through. I had held on to that for at least two years, if not longer, that I would just eventually cure myself.

    I have bad days still, almost a year later, where I just want to curl up (or run away) with my cat. Where I struggle and often fail not to yell at my kids. But it’s only sometimes now, not every day.

    So thank you, for that post and this post and always being a champion of Getting Help. Thank you so much.

  16. I have been struggling a lot in the last year (after almost a decade free of the Black Dog), due to my present circumstances.
    That said, I found it really helpful to remember something I saw in a meme (it’s probably a quote, but I don’t know the source):
    “Whenever I’m having a bad day, I just remember that my success rate in getting through bad days is 100% to date.”

  17. I can honestly tell you I know how you feel, and walk a similar path. It’s hard, and it’s tough and it seems like that feeling will never pass. But it does, and I hope you are able to see the amazing difference that you make in people’s lives, and the lives of all the fur babies (the SPCA advocacy that you are so involved in, and your own animals). I know this may not help, but it’s important for you to hear.

    *hugs*

  18. I love it when you share this with the world. You show people what depression is, that it’s real, that no one is immune; that it gets better, and a little bit of the stigma is erased. This helps a lot of people who are struggling with depression who are just starting their journey to wellness. That’s important.

  19. I know exactly that feeling. At least I think I do.

    There have been several times in my life where I get those kind of fits where nothing at all can possibly go right. Then, like a magic wand, that time is gone.

    Poof.

    Gone.

    I wish I could explain it, or even know where that pressure valve is located in my mind so I could control it instead of seeming like it is controlled by some ADD suffering chimp. (His name is Gary. He is pleased to meet you.) But I can’t. So, my brain-monkey takes me for intolerable rides of loathing.

    Just this year, it struck at the worst possible time. I was to head to Japan to teach English to kids there. It’s what I have always wanted with my life. The last month here was hectic, making flights to LA and Chicago for interviews and visas respectively. Add onto this the relative that plastered a ton of guilt on me for lending me the money to get out there and you had a mental shitstorm that was already a-brewin’.

    Then, the day after I arrived, the brain-monkey would have none of my happiness. I hit a rather hard combo of depression, homesick and guilt combined with jetlag and exhaustion. I panicked. I was home within four days. I had just blown my dream in four days flat. Not to mention blowing three grand or so on airfare. And the fog from that still hasn’t really lifted from my mind. I have more bad days than good. Not to mention my old job not taking me back.

    So that is where I am now. Wishing some sort of brain-Animal Control would capture the brain-monkey, freeing me of all this. But until then, I take it a day at a time. Like I imagine most that have this do.

    Sorry for the long post. It’s been since May that I have even felt like talking about it, and this post opened that up enough.

  20. I have MS. Essentially a borked brain. I have bad days. I also have really good days. I think I will print out your post and staple it to my forehead. Thanks.

  21. Thanks for posting this, and posts like it. Please keep posting them, it really does help to be reminded that other people go through this stuff too, and that though the bad days rear their ugly heads for no reason they go away too.

  22. My brain totally fails me at the wrong moments. It makes me feel inadequate, childish or just plain stupid when I know that I am actually a sometimes brilliant, usually in-control and thoroughly grown-up woman.
    Earlier in Oct was pretty stink for me, I started spiraling for no apparent reason (sometimes I do, if I’m not organizing something or looking forward to an event) so I went on Twitter to cheer myself up and let people know my cupcake pinup mag had arrived. The picture of Anne recreating the Ticket to ride incident is PRICELESS!
    And Anne REPLIED to my tweet!
    Getting a tweet back from someone I respect and adore lifted my whole day.
    I’m glad your MMMMMARRAAAHHH dissolved and you are back to ‘Normal’
    Keep up the amazing work.

  23. Today I had a very MMMRRRRAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAH day. Reading your words, I am hopeful that mine will clear.

  24. As someone who had a situation like yours, in that I had years of depression that wasn’t helped, I can understand how you feel with your family. I had so many times where I took it out on those around me and it’s hard to look back on those times without loathing, most of the time. My family kindly and without malice reminds me that the depression, and other issues that I found I had that also required medication, are the fault of my childhood and genetics and that I am WORLDS better now than I was.

    Point being I understand how you feel and am glad that you found help. It makes living so much better to have the help you need – and having a loving, wonderful family helps, too ;)

    Good luck on your project! Can’t wait to find out what it is :D

  25. Wil, thank you for saying what I feel. It’s so important that people know how bad an average day can get when you have depression. It’s also important for people with depression to remember that there are very good days too. Talking about it is a brave thing. My respect for you just skyrocketed and you were pretty high on the scale as of late anyway.

  26. Hi Wil,

    I can’t say I feel good knowing that someone also suffers from the same condition as I do, because no one deserves to live like that. But reading your post, and the way you have learned how to cope with that, made me feel more courageous to continue this (perhaps endless?) fight with depression.

    I have suffered from depression, OCD (which is now controlled) and anxiety since I was 15, and, as you sad, I have good days, bad days and terrible days…

    Taking anti-depressants help, but we know it doesn’t cure. We just have to continue trying to do our best.

    Only we know how much time, moments and how much days of our lives we have wasted (or lost) because of the things going on our heads.

    But we are still here, we are not alone and we will continue to have good days, that will compensate for the bad ones.

    From a geek, fan and admirer from Brazil. Peace.

  27. My husband has been struggling with depression for a few years now. This was a timely reminder (during a rough patch) to be patient. Thank you.

  28. As inappropriate as this may be, it’s oddly comforting to know that someone else suffers in the same way that u do … there are many of us in the world who hv the MMMMMARRAAAHHH days, amongst other symptoms & ur honesty makes me, at least, feel slightly less freakish … Thank u too x

  29. I know exactly how you mean. I had a period of time (probably about 4 months) at the start of the year where every day I would sink deeper and deeper into this random pit of “goddamn I hate this fucking shit”, switching weekly from soul-crushing depression to “oh god, I have to get out of bed and pretend everything is normal for a whole day at work” anxiety.

    But I pushed through it. A few months ago I suddenly felt normal for the first time in longer than I could remember, and since then I’ve been floating down the optimism vibe, occasionally snagging a day here or there of anxiety, and a couple here or there of depression, but I think- as you say- being able to know that it is purely irrational, that there is NO reason is sometimes enough to drag you through.

  30. Thank you for sharing that. I’ve struggled for the past year, undiagnosed b/c of no insurance, and not really sure why I have “up” days and “Chernobyl” days. Little things would build up or just everything irritated me one day but the next would be fine. My wife has two genetic diseases, mitochondrial mutation and cystic fibrosis, I am her caretaker and the bread-winner of the family, I guess that stress has taken more out of me than I thought. Again, thank you for opening my eyes some.

      1. I had no idea that existed. I’ve lived with depression since I was 13 (20 years). I also have several other psych conditions and since I lost insurance when I turned 18, I’ve been dealing with it (while helping others deal with theirs) on my own, all this time.

  31. Today was my MMMMMARRAAAHHH Day, also, involving very little positive and necessary professional communication and no money (the root of My Particular Evil). I am looking forward to better days myself. Thank you for reminding my logical side that they can happen, even when my emotional side is picking up a hot bowl of soup and using words much worse than Putz Monkey (tm to my room mate)

  32. I know where you are coming from. I was in a rut, living a very grey life. I got professional help, took some meds that helped, got off of them and eventually stopped therapy. My life is a lot better right now.

    One thing that helped me was Ekhart Tolle’s A New Earth audio book. I listen to it a lot when I am in a mood. One thing that helped me was him saying “If you feel sad or depressed, acknowledge that this is how you feel at this moment. Analyse it, see if you can do something to change how you feel. If there is no reason why you are sad say to yourself, ‘I am sad now. It is OK to feel this way. This too shall pass'” And usually in a bit, I have stopped obsessing about it and it has slipped away.

  33. “I’m trying really hard not to blow up at you for something you didn’t do, or yell at the dogs for barking, or just freaking out at everything … but it is really fucking hard and I’m just sick of this shit.”

    this is EXACTLY how I feel. Thanks for putting it into words for me.

  34. Wil, thank you so much for sharing this. It is so hard to explain that you KNOW what’s going on, but you can’t just magically make it stop. Also, I think we’ve all yelled at at least one bowl of soup for burning us.

    1. This! THIS! So many people have asked me why, if I know what I’m feeling isn’t normal, don’t I “just stop.”

      1. When that comes up (thankfully, it doesn’t come up very often) I say, “You know, if I could ‘just feel better’, I would.”

        1. I soooo totally agree … i’ve lost “friends” over my “selfish behaviour” – someone blasted me 4 cancelling social engagements & 4 being late when we had plans together, despite my frequent apologies … she issued ultimatums, demanding that i be on time 4 our next scheduled social engagement or cancel right now, as i was “wasting her time” – All this, despite my opening myself up & explaining my condition,so that she would understand that even leaving the house was a HUGE achievement 4 me … It took me 5yrs to be strong enough to explain my condition to her & within 3months of that, she demanded I change behaviours that I have little to no control over (as much as i try) .. Needless to say, I cancelled all future events with this “friend”, just like others before her … If it were as simple as that, we’d all do it! ..

          1. I’ve also lost many “friends” over the years who thought I was being selfish or just simply seeking attention. They didn’t want to be around me because I was a “downer”. It has taken me until this year to realise that they were never there when I needed them, but as soon as I was having a good day, they were more than willing to hang out with me. I went through a period of being okay, and as soon as I started slipping again, I tried to talk to them because, you know, they were supposed to be my friends. They turned their backs on me. They didn’t want to hear it. Sadly, their behaviour taught me that whenever I’m feeling down, I should just keep it to myself because nobody gives a shit. If I’m not permanently happy, then I’m not worth their friendship.

  35. Thank you for sharing a piece of your journey. Depression is a sucky, sucky thing. It’s actually comforting to know of others’ similar experiences. It’s GOT to get better, yeah?

  36. You continue to be one of my favorite people. You have all these amazing things going on in your life, but you don’t take them for granted. When bad shit happens (as is its wont), you don’t let everything be ruined forever. I have so much respect for you, and, as I’ve said in the past, if I gain even the tiniest bit of celebrity in my life, I hope I can manage to be even half as awesome as you are.

  37. Thank you for sharing! I suffer from depression and I know what it is like to have those days where you can feel an explosion seething right below the surface and you just hope you can hold it together and not take it out anyone that would be undeserving of your outburst, your rage, your impatience and the list goes on. It is hard to live with. I know I am hard to live with. And lots of people don’t understand that depression is a disease just like alcoholism. Even though it might get better, it never goes away. Hugs to you!!

  38. Thank you for this. I struggle with my depression every day–sometimes, it’s all I can do to get out of bed to make the baby breakfast. It’s a constant struggle, but it’s always nice to know that there are other people who just GET it.

  39. I’m so happy that you are helping to make it more acceptable for people, anyone and everyone, to talk about these disorders now. While my boyfriend doesn’t understand how I feel when I have my bad days, it’s still nice to read someone else’s descriptions and go “Yes! This! This is what it’s like,” to him. I think when he sees other people who have bad days like mine, it helps him to understand that it’s not just me. I’m not lying, or looking for sympathy, or overreacting (well, I am, but not about having anxiety/depression…) but that I, and many other people, have days where getting out of bed is a small miracle and anything else beyond that is frustrating and hard and maddening.

    So thank you, Wil, for being in my corner. And also for proving that these disorders don’t run us. That we can still have loving relationships, strong friendships, and successful careers despite the days where our brains try to convince us that there’s really no point.

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