Geeky Ways to Fight the Blues
It should go without saying, but if you’re very depressed, thinking of hurting yourself, or have been depressed for more than a few days, talk to a doctor. I’m not a doctor. WebMD is not a doctor. Depression is sort of like the flu of mental illnesses. A lot of people get it, and a lot of people get through it. But sometimes, it does kill. Don’t give it half a chance.
There’s a complicated relationship between intelligence, creativity, and depression. But despite research that’s all over the board, it’s very clear that it can be rough to be a geek sometimes. Fortunately, we have a few tricks up our sleeves the normals would never think of.
Cosplay allows you to put a little distance between yourself and your identity. While it can become a problem in of itself if you take the dissociation too far, a brief stint in someone else’s Star Trek uniform can help you get out of your head and out of the house. Cosplay also involves forcing yourself to engage in a project, helping you to claw your way out of a dark place by giving you a focal point to marshal yourself. Additionally, your outfit can change your self-image. A crisp Viper flight suit or intimidating orcin armor can help buoy up your self-image while you get your head together.
Interacting with others is a great way to beat the blues. Cons are full of people with common interests. Going to a convention gets you out of the house, into the (relatively) fresh air. They get you interacting with people. Sometimes the act of getting out and doing stuff like you would if you weren’t depressed can do wonders. Spending some time with like-minded people in a friendly convention atmosphere can help you pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
If you’re feeling down, getting active and getting out of the house are great ways to fight your way through a nasty depression. All you need is a smart phone or other GPS-enabled device and an internet connection. Geocaching features several depression-fighting elements: being outside, being active, and working towards a goal. Plus, you know, it’s fun.
Watch Uplifting Films.
The trick here is to watch something funny and uplifting, something with a positive message. YouTube videos, streaming vids, and that cool indie video store can all help. But remember, dark comedy is probably not the best thing at the moment. You want more Galaxy Quest funny and less Dr. Strangelove funny. Avoid “so bad it’s good” funny. It is not the time for the Star Wars Christmas Special*.
Learn a Skill.
Actively engaging yourself in a project is a good way to get out of a rut. Find something you don’t know how to do, watch a couple of YouTube tutorials and get to it. Always wanted to learn how to wire electronics? Hit Radio Shack and get soldering. Want to learn a language? Now’s as good a time as any. One of the keys to beating depression is forcing yourself to do something active.
With all of these activities, it’s best to do them in a group, preferably out of the house (or in my case, my parents’ basement—sigh). Human interaction has a way of cheering people up. It reminds you that you’re part of the human story. At the same time, it’s best to avoid solitary, passive activities if you can. Remember, media is supposed to entertain you, not provide a long-term escape.
And of course, if your symptoms are severe or persistent, please get professional help, especially if you have any kind of thoughts of self-harm.
Always remember, even on the bad days, somewhere, something amazing is happening.
*It’s never the time for the Star Wars Christmas Special.