I feel like a deer caught in the headlights every time someone asks me, “How are you doing?”
The expected response is, “Fine,” so that’s usually what I give. But then there are people that I feel wrong lying to.
I mean, I could say:
Well, two weeks ago I had my best couple of days since before Christmas. I pretty much forgot that I had depression. During that time, I got a job at the community college newspaper and started doing karate again and made all sorts of goals and plans for the future. Then the next week I started feeling a little overwhelmed by all of this and got kind of depressed again. I’ve gotten progressively worst and then today I was so emotionless I probably could have murdered someone and felt no remorse. How have you been?
I face a dilemma every time I want to say something like this. I try really hard not to dwell on my problems and not let myself become my depression, but I still have a need to talk things out with other people and not feel alone in all of this. How do I strike the balance between not being a downer and being honest?
Enter Twenty One Pilots.
Twenty One Pilots is my most favorite band of all time. They are quirky and interesting and unique and different with every song. And all of their lyrics are about anxiety and depression. When I first heard their music, I didn’t think I was going to like them. The music was so energetic and upbeat, and the lyrics were so odd and kind of dark. It was sort of disarming. As they started to grow on me, I discovered something: this is how you remain honest but hopeful.
The feel of the music mixed with the message of the lyrics reminds me of conversations I’ve had with friends who share some of my problems. We will exchange stories of awful days when depression kept us from wanting to live life or anxiety made us do, seemingly, ridiculous things. And we will laugh the entire story.
It is a paradox. Or an oxymoron; I’m not sure.
The truth is we are all silly people living painful lives but striving for happiness. Horrible things are always happening everywhere we turn, but the human being is created to laugh. It’s what makes us human.
So instead of being embarrassed or angered by shortcomings or bad days, I try to embrace them with irony. Humor doesn’t necessarily discount horribleness, but it makes it a little more bearable, and, sometimes, a little more worth it.
So next time someone asks me how I’m doing, I know my answer.