Let’s talk: Depression in Show Business

Well, you gotta start somewhere.

I was probably 14 or 15 when my depression started to “kick in” so-to-speak, which was poor timing (a habit I’ve kept up the majority of my adult life) because it was primarily brushed off as just being a teenager.

I’ve done most everything for “treatment.” I’ve been to therapy (therapists, plural), taken most every medication (made me fat, made me sleepy, made me hungry; stopped taking them and am still fat, sleepy and hungry…huh…) and one time went to a lady who made me hold these little plastic square things that vibrated little pulses that were supposed to pulse my depression away.

Let me repeat that one for you – PULSE MY DEPRESSION AWAY.

Disclaimer: WHAT WORKS FOR ME MIGHT NOT WORK FOR YOU, DO NOT CHANGE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH CARE PLAN WITHOUT CONSULTING AN ACTUAL DOCTOR.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m off all medications and have been for probably 5 to 6-ish years.  Every therapist I’ve ever been to has suggested I, and I quote, “try to stop being so depressed” – so I no longer see a therapist.  I eat semi-healthy (like the old saying, a bag of Doritos a day keeps the doctor away) and I go to the gym probably 3-4 times a week at best so I’ve finally figured out what I think is a pretty good routine for controlling it.

That being said, depression doesn’t give a f*ck about you and your healthy eating habits and will still punch you in the face just because.  Will it help? Sure.  Will it stop it? (Insert cynical laughter here)

Example –

Me: (Eating an apple)

Depression: Hey.

Me: Yeah?

Depression: (Smacks apple out of hand) F*CK. YOU.

Me: You got it.

As someone who works in most aspects of the field of show business, this can cause some problems.  Like it or not, a big part of the industry is not looking like you did anything you possibly could to avoid your feelings so you stress-ate an entire family-size bag of Smartfood in one sitting and cried watching The Secret Life of Pets. (Yeah, I have a Bachelors Degree, get out of my face)

It’s only just starting to become a “thing” for celebrities to be “so brave” to discuss their mental illness (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.) To be fair, it is a brave thing to do.  If I walked up to someone and introduced myself as Katie, 23, dog-owner and boy chronically depressed like you would not believe – it’d probably stall the conversation just a bit.

But, that’s because we’ve set this expectation that someone with depression is automatically going to kill themselves at any second.  This innate fear and borderline sympathy kicks in of, “oh, you poor, defenseless thing!” as if they’re just this ticking time-bomb waiting to be poked into over-drive which then cycles the depressed person deeper into said depression because you’re making them feel like they’re an incompetent child who not only cannot take care of themselves but is at fault.  “Oh, ___ who shot up that place had depression! ___ who killed that other guy was depressed! Depressed!!! Depression means – ”

If anything, people with depression are some of the kindest, thoughtful and creative people on this marble.  People with depression rarely resort to acts of violence against others, and when they do, it’s because they are not receiving the treatment they need because they live in a society that’s made them feel like an ass for being born.

For me, I can have weeks of hanging out with friends, eating well, going to the gym and taking big steps for my career – and then I spend 3 days in bed in a bathrobe and my underwear binge-watching The Great British Baking Show (someone please explain to me how that woman’s parents didn’t think with a name like Mary Berry she’d be a professional baker???) and not responding to any texts while I eat my weight in Fritos.  The part that gets me the most about that is it blows by.  What time says is 3 days of isolation to me feels like maybe half of one evening, at most.  Before I know it, I’ll look at a text I received on a Friday and it’s Tuesday afternoon and it’s only just clicking with me that I never responded.

What I think needs to be established the most is that there is not a cure, but that doesn’t make it a death sentence.  Different things work for different people.  Therapy and medication might make someone feel a million times better for the rest of every single day of their life, but if they were to stop, they would go back to their depression.  We treat depression like it’s this curse from a witch and if we go on a quest to find Cinderella’s slipper and Little Red Riding Hood’s cape (cough, Into the Woods, cough) then we can finally live happily ever after.  We need to establish that’s not how it f*cking works and f*ck these commercials with their little wind-up plastic dolls who magically turn into high-functioning smiling people once they take this pill.

There are lots of ways to treat and live with depression, regardless of whatever field you work in.

“But Katie! Really successful people like celebrities, they don’t have it! You can’t even name 5!”

Kristen Bell, Lady GaGa, The Rock (please, please don’t run for President), Sarah Silverman, Cara Delevingne.

I’ve covered so much ground here I’ve even confused myself a little bit, so let’s recap.

Depression is not your fault.  If you want to be a professional actor or you want to be a professional chef or you want to be a professional stay-at-home mom, it’s not your fault.

So talk to your doctor and talk to your friends.  “But I’m worried my friends – “ I cannot emphasize this enough; if your friends treat you differently because of your depression, they are not your friends.  If your doctor suggests a therapist or medication, take it.  “But Katie that counteracts what you just – “ You don’t know what treatment methods work for you and what doesn’t work for you unless you try it.  If the medication makes you sleepy and gain weight, talk to your doctor some more to see if there’s another one.  If your therapist was anything like mine and told you to “try being less depressed,” go find another one.  Go for a run – if I have asthma and I go for a run, no excuses out of you (unless you have a broken leg, then I guess, sigh) Your brain will release dopamine and you will feel like Usain Bolt even if you only ran to to the end of the street and back.

If you want to work in a field where you have the potential to be in the public-eye and you’re embarrassed that someone like a coworker might treat you differently, do it.  First of all, f*ck that guy.  Second of all, you have a chemical imbalance in your brain and you got out of bed this morning, matched your shoes together and got to work on time? The guy who “judged” you is wearing underwear from the bottom of his hamper and showed up 20 minutes late because he had to post to Instagram about his #fitfamlife .

Seriously, f*ck that guy.

I have days where I look at myself and think in my best internal JD from Scrubs monologue, “Yas gawd, look at you kween, slay those sweatpants!” And then I have other days where I do a full face of makeup for a photoshoot and I mess up my eyeliner and contemplate gouging my eye out with the closest broach (cough, Jocasta, cough)

But! I’m still a functioning member of society, mother-fudgers.  I pay my taxes, my bills, drive a car, graduated college and am going on almost 2 years in the best relationship of my life.  Sometimes I nervous poo six-times before an audition, sometimes I don’t.  Fight me.  Sometimes I see my peers from acting school getting better gigs than me and I contemplate the sweet release of death.  Sometimes I don’t.  Fight me.  I figured out a routine that worked for me because I stopped being ashamed of what it meant to be me.  Oh, and I laugh at myself a lot – don’t be afraid to do that either.

If you think yourself or a loved one might be suffering from depression and would like further information or resources, click here .

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