I got a bit of heat for this but I knew it was coming. It’s really uncomfortable to talk about negative things about depression in a way which is so unforgiving, but it’s one of the things I had to do for my sake. I don’t want depression comix to be a comic that puts on rose-coloured glasses about the illness and downplays its worst aspects. I have to be 100% honest in this comic or it means nothing to me.
I knew the illness had caused damage to my own life, and I hinted that it did damage to other people but nothing as direct as this comic. This comic came around when I had learned that during a job I took as a computer programmer and research assistant nearly twenty years ago I made a programming error. This was not found until I had left my job, which pretty much made this particular research I did incorrect, and all the other projects I had a hand in suspect. I learned of this very recently, when I came across a retraction for the experiment done in a scientific journal, and it said the result was due to a programming error. I do understand how serious a retraction is, not just for the work but also the reputation for those involved. The experiments were probably redone and thousands of dollars (maybe tens of thousands) wasted. And I know that during that time I was stuck in my own head, I cared little about anything and was just passing time because I felt everything was hopeless. It’s a long time ago but I know how deep in the pit I was at the time, and I’m pretty sure it at least played a part in not seeing that programming error.
There are other times I did damage too. Relationships that ran sour, people whose trust I killed. But it reminded me of how when you’re depressed it’s so difficult to focus on your work, your relationship, your friends, you family, and bad things happen when you can’t. Even though it’s all passive, it’s still damaging. All those people have to deal with the damage I did, thinking to themselves, “I wish I never met that guy.” It’s a hard thing to swallow that people hate me, but I do understand why a little better now.
Unfortunately this comic ends in a dark place. What it should say — and I’ll add to this — is that this is why it’s so important to understand depression and get help with it. Recovering from it and seeing the damage isn’t pleasant, but it certainly helps stopping it from continuing.
After this strip I lost about 5 supporters on Patreon for it. I don’t know if there’s any connection, but I rarely lose that many supporters at once. It’ll probably be a while before I visit this dark territory again but I think it is necessary.
For the record, the woman is one of the friends who vanished in #275. The photograph in panel 2 is sketched from a real one (although it isn’t burned). The woman in the comic is a friend from long ago I pushed away because of depression. I hope she’s doing OK despite ever knowing me.