I used to think that depression and sadness were the same thing. Now, I understand that depression is whole other beast. I didn’t realize it when I was younger, but I’ve been suffering from depression my entire life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt that there was something wrong with me. I’ve felt empty, as if there was a part of me missing that everyone could see. And I never got to seek help. It wasn’t until early 2016 that my depression overtook my life. Every single day was a struggle. The simplest tasks felt difficult. Getting out of bed and out of the house felt impossible. All I could feel was pain. The pain made it incredibly difficult to function, so much so that I couldn’t work. I finally realized that I needed help. I began seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist and was put on anti-depressants. It slightly helped at first, but I was still struggling to get by. I began going to support groups, and for the first time in my entire life , I didn’t feel alone. I realized that there were others that were going through exactly what I was going through. I began to feel better. I’d like to tell you that I overcame my depression and that now I live and full and happy life. Although my life has improved significantly after leaving the job that I hate and pursuing my passion, my everyday life is still a struggle.
When I heard about project semicolon, I was inspired to get my very first tattoo. It feels good to be part of something. I’m not an attempt survivor like most but in a way, I survive an attempt every single day. Every day I wake up to is a blessing and a curse. When I finally accepted myself for who I was, my life improved dramatically. This tattoo is a symbol of that. Being a writer, it reminds me that my life is like a sentence that I can choose to continue. It’s my choice, no one else’s. It reminds me every single day to choose life. I know that no mater how bad I feel, I can get through it. I know that it will soon pass. And I know that (despite not feeling like it in the moment) I have the strength to get through my worst episodes. I know that I have friends and family that love me and would care if I died. Even though I have a negative voice in my head. I call him my “shadow.”
I call him my shadow because he’s like this blotch of darkness that follows me wherever I go. He’s my demon, an impish apparition that tries to control my life. He’s my worst enemy and my best friend. He’s the Anti-John. He’s my every single fear and doubt. I do my best to ignore him, but it gets so difficult. Despite feeling better, he’s still present. I honestly feel like he will never go away. I only believe that he will become easier to drone out. I hope that one day I can drone him out completely. He’ll still be there, but it will become easier for me to ignore him and push through. My experiences have opened my eyes to the true nature of depression. I feel that it is an utter tragedy that many people have so many misconceptions about depression. I have made it my mission to shed light on the subject and to remove the stigma about depression and all mental illnesses. Because that’s what it is. A medical illness. It’s not the “gloomies.” It’s not just “feeling down.” It’s a black hole that engulfs your entire body, an evil force that all hope and joy succumbs to.
I decided to shoot a short film to expose depression as a debilitating illness that conquers your life and destroys any semblance of a well-adjusted existence. It’s entitled “I’m Not Sad (It’s Like A Weighted Shadow.)” It tells the story of Dan, a seemingly normal man who’s depression has completely overtaken his life. He has a Shadow, it whispers negativity into his ear, constantly berating and degrading him. “I’m Not Sad” is a story of a man battling his demons and fighting for his life. We are currently seeking funding to make this film a reality. Please help support our film so we can reveal a day in the life of a depressive. For every person that has told you to “cheer up,” or “it’s all in your head,” may this film be a beacon of light and hope, a way to help those not going through it to understand what you’re going through. I appreciate any kind of support.
Peace and Love, John Serrano