Everyone knows that the Arkham games are the best thing to happen to Batman since the animated series. I, personally, am waiting eagerly for Arkham Knight. I’m also waiting eagerly for a PS4, but Santa Claus doesn’t visit 26-year-olds. Anyway, playing Arkham City for the 22nd time, I began to correlate a few things between Batman and the depression from which I suffer. No, this is not about Batman’s brooding attitude or grim outlook on life. Rather, this is about his gadgets.
While I was talking to my counselor one day, he told me how every little method I learn for fighting depression is another tool in my belt. Any normal guy would think of a guy in his garage with an actual tool belt. I think of Batman, and all those awesome gadgets he has: explosive gel for getting through walls, the line launcher for crossing gaps, and the batarang for beating people up.
But you don’t start with all your gadgets; the game begins with about 5, but eventually grows to about 12. So in the beginning, there isn’t a ton you can do. As the game progresses, you get more and more gadgets, each of which is a new tool to open puzzles or hurt bad guys. Anyone who’s played this game knows that if you’ll have to use pretty much every single gadget in order to beat the game and get all the secrets. Every gadget serves a different, unique purpose.
What’s my point? My point is that there is no one magic tool for fighting depression. There’s no one pill, one phrase, one book to read that kills depression in all its forms. Serious depression is a shape-shifter, and as soon as you kill it in one way, it changes to attack another area of your life. To fight depression in all its forms, you need a wide variety of gadgets in your belt.
Here are some of the tools I’ve learned that have helped me:
- Physical Health–More than once, I was able to overcome a fit of depression with a good nap. Physical strength helps mental strength, so get enough sleep and enough to eat. Can’t do that? Well, that’s what the other tools are for!
- Friends–Robin makes Batman’s job easier. Being introverted or shy is no excuse; I am both, but I’ve discovered there’s no “tool” quite like friends. Some of my friends listen quietly. Some of them give advice. Some of them give me tough love to show me where I’m living a delusion. Some even offer help. There’s no one friend who can solve all your problems, but even one good one is a godsend. Depression isolates. Fight it.
- Knowledge–Read up on depression and learn how it works. You know, like you’re doing right now. Congrats! You just got a new gadget!
- Talk Back–Depression exaggerates and lies. Talk back, either with truth or by exaggerating the exaggeration to mock the depression. This is more than positive thinking. Keep your eyes on the truth.
- Writing–Journal your thoughts, no matter how dark and horrifying. You can destroy it later if you like, but this helps you know your own mind. Speaking of which…
- Honesty–Don’t sugar-coat your thoughts because you think it’s not the “right” thing to say. Listen to what you really feel. I know, I know, this means going deeper into that darkness and it scares you, but it’s also the way to the exit.
- Divide the pain from the depression. Pain is real; sadness is real. Don’t try to erradicate sorrow from your life because you’d have to cut out your heart. Allow yourself to feel pain, but know when grief stops and darkness begins.
- Forgiveness–Forgive yourself for whatever mistakes you made. You can’t unmake them, but you don’t have to live with them. No one who loves you expects you to. So let go and you can move on. And forgive others, too. A wise man once said that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. They’re sleeping at night. Forgive them and you can, too.
- Counselling–Having someone to talk to and listen can work miracles. A good one can help you navigate your own mind and find the roots to your suffering. Often times, depression is an emotional issue, not a medical one.
- Medicine–But sometimes, it is a medical thing and an antidepressant can get you to the threshold you need to cross in order to deal with the emotions. I don’t believe in being on medicine all your life, but it’s true that it can help.
- Prayer–Not all of you believe in God like I do, but I also believe there’s a spiritual side to depression. I’ve suffered both medical and spiritual depression and learned the difference. Some you fight with medicine, some you fight with prayer, casting out demons and dark forces like Jesus did. Not all sadness is a demon, but sometimes, it is. On top of that, God wants you whole and happy, not guilty and full of shame. He wants to lift you up and empower you, not put you down.
It takes wisdom to know which gadget to use where, but wisdom comes with experience. The point of all this is to fight. FIGHT. I’m not saying think positive thoughts until you feel better. Grief is real; acknowledge it. But don’t give way to depression. Depression is strong and there will be many times you lose. However, the more tools you have on your belt, the more weapons you have against the darkness.
I’ve been there, I’ve done that, and I’m still doing it. I’m in counselling, I’ve recently started taking an antidepressant, I’ve had to be honest with myself and go down some terrible places in my mind, I’ve had to pray away evil spirits, I’ve had to forgive those who’ve hurt me and forgive myself, too. I’ve used every last one of those tools and I’m still using them today.
And you know what? I’m happy. I’m happy more often than I am depressed. For the first time ever, I’m seeing Joy win against sorrow. I’m able to take the blows of life and roll with them more often than before. I am not immune to depression by a long shot, but I am at long last seeing positive progress. You need a variety of weapons against this monster. The strongest of all these is God and I encourage you to let the creator of the world fight with you. But don’t get into the Christian trap of praying away every sorrow. God used these tools too. He gave Elijah sleep and food (1 Kings 19: 1-8) ; He gave Job a scolding (Job 38-41); He gave Peter love and forgiveness (John 21:15-19); He gives to each what each needs.
Pull a Batman and fight that evil with every gadget you possess. And hey, if you need someone to talk to, my contact info is on the About page (link at the top). As Batman said in The Killing Joke, “Who knows? Maybe I’ve been there…maybe I can help.”