Depression, a Couch, and My New Friend Dave

  • Emily Brown

For context, I’ll let you know I’ve always been a naturally highly motivated person. Not due to anything other than sheer will. My parents never needed to offer me incentives to do well in school, sports, friendships, etc.

Since I’ve heavily relied on this natural urge to DO my whole life, I’ve learned to trust that goals will be achieved through my simple desire if not to excel, then at least to accomplish. I also learned to trust that a lack of motivation (in me) indicated a lack of importance (to me). I was nearly always right.

More context: Let me tell you a bit about a roommate of mine. I live with a big fat bear in a leotard and tutu, his name is Depression (he’s adopted, that’s the name his birth mother gave him… I call him Dave). If you’re familiar at all with depression, you know that motivation is something that often gets heavily tampered with. Dave sits quite plumply on my motivation like it’s the comfiest couch in the world.

So here I am, for months on end, natural born do-er, waiting on my motivation to get me to do the things I need to do. I’m waiting, busying myself elsewhere because I know my motivation will come when it needs to… I’m waiting, and waiting, for it to come. At first patiently, and then…like seriously, GET OFF MY F*CKING COUCH DAVE.

But he won’t. Not right now. Maybe not for a long time.

I finally realized that my natural urge to do, my natural motivation, is something I currently don’t have access to. I can’t focus on being motivated, I can’t focus on why I’m pursuing a career in acting. Something some of us call the Why.  Because with Dave, the more I focus on the Why, the more I see the Why Nots.

So I stopped. Stopped waiting for motivation, stopped focusing on my Why. I started to blindly trust myself. I trusted that my lack of motivation is not an indication that I don’t want this. My lack of motivation is not an indication of disinterest. It’s just Dave fucking with me.

I noticed, though, that Dave does something nice for me. He quiets my mind, but not my creativity. There’s less buzz. Yes, it’s dark and bleak at times, but the hollowness allows for clarity. I see my needs in this pursuit. From them, I get my Whats and my Hows. I’m checking them off like chores. Dave makes it very difficult to enjoy doing my Whats and Hows. They’re not met with enthusiasm. There’s no excitement in my pursuit. They’re met with huge reluctance from Dave, still on the couch. And that’s okay. Just because there’s less fervour doesn’t mean there’s no intensity.

Despite my lack of motivation, I trust what I want. Because no matter what state of mind I’m in, however ravenous or attention-seeking Dave gets, there is always love and energy for the work itself. Auditions, class, set, rehearsal. The work is what fuels me.

Right now, I can’t be the golden retriever, bounding gleefully after my ball. But I can be the feline. Prowling. Hunting. Moving slowly but with conviction.

This is me learning to live with my roommate. This is me learning to succeed, not in spite of Dave, but with him.

Okay, maybe a little in spite of Dave.

  • Emily Brown


More From Dash:

An Interview with Johnny Active

‘American Psycho’ Review

The Rush

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