Midlife Crisis or Depression?
Which super fun horror show are you experiencing?
The universe likes to send humans spiraling through a caldron of existential dread every 25 years or so. This can serve as a checkpoint, reminding us that we’re going to die one day and, if we don’t hurry up, we’ll never have a job title that doesn’t look hilarious on a business card or learn to bake a soufflé. (For some reason, I’ve always considered baking a soufflé the ultimate in adulting.)
But it can be hard to tell whether you’re having a legitimate midlife crisis or a waltz with the old depression. It’s important to diagnose your situation, because these two things have very different cures!
If you’re having a midlife crisis, you’ll want to buy a red sports car (I recommend a Lego version if you don’t have the cash for a human-sized car) and wait a year or two before making any dramatic decisions. Eventually the midlife crisis will pass and you’ll sink back into the comfortable monotony of life without the urge to move to Hawaii and wax surfboards for a living.
If you’re suffering from depression, well, the red sports car won’t do much. Instead you’ll want to find a therapist or a sympathetic-looking golden retriever to tell your troubles to. Maybe some drugs. The legal kind? I don’t know. (If you’re coming to me for advice on curing your depression, then we’re both in a lot of trouble.)
Here are some symptoms of a midlife crisis:
- You feel sad and are having a hard time getting invested in things you used to love. Once upon a time you could spend hours prank calling your friends, but it doesn’t bring you the same joy anymore.
- You often feel restless, longing for excitement and dreaming of new ways to change your life. Will giving away all your possessions and joining a monastery make you happy? It could. But maybe check in with your wife and kids before committing to the #monklife.
- You begin questioning things you used to take for granted. Maybe your relationships. Maybe your politics. Perhaps your religion. Which M&M flavor is the best. Anything is up for revaluation.
- You’re angrier than usual. Though, to be fair, the anger could be because of a midlife crisis, or it could be a result of following American politics too closely.
- The future is intimidating and you’re unable to decide which path to take. Becoming a rock star would be rewarding, but the world needs more people willing to clean sea otters for a living. (At least, I like to imagine it does.)
A few symptoms of depression are as follows:
- You feel sad and are having a hard time getting invested in things you used to love. Wait. Damn it. Just keep reading. I’m sure the other symptoms will be different.
- You often feel restless… Arg. THESE TWO THINGS ARE DIFFERENT, I PROMISE.
- You struggle with fatigue and, oh God, I am so happy to see fatigue here. I never thought I’d be so happy to see fatigue. Fatigue is NOT a symptom of a midlife crisis. I hope. But it can occur with depression.
- You frequently feel helpless, empty, worthless, guilty, like a piece of shit, no good, pointless, waste of space, zero of a donkey turd.
- This is a comedy piece, there should probably be a joke here. Hmmm….
Why didn’t the baby chicken want to come out of the egg?
Because egg-sistence is an unending cycle of horror and pain.
(Full disclosure — I stole this joke from the internet and tweaked it to make it even sadder. Comedy!)
It’s important to point out that people suffering from midlife crises are normally in the middle of their lives. This doesn’t help with identification as much as you might think, because many of us do not know how long we will live and, thus, have no idea where the exact midpoints of our lives are.
You could die tomorrow, which means you’re way overdue on your midlife crisis. We could all die tomorrow. Maybe we will. (Comments like this are why I shouldn’t help anyone manage their sad thoughts.)
There’s also the fact that a midlife crisis can turn into depression, which, well, mental health always has to be complicated, doesn’t it? As a person who creates short form content for the internet, I don’t appreciate life refusing to organize itself into handy bullet points.
The truth is: there are all kinds of interesting and terrible things you could be going through at any given time. So don’t feel like you need to suffer through your life in silence and don’t be afraid to ask for help and I’m sure you’re a great person and don’t pay attention to anything I write here, because I’m just trying to earn that sweet, peanut butter M&M (fun size) money off this article.
Good luck and don’t prank call me.