For the second time this week, headlines of suicide have graced our timelines. Another “celebrity” has taken their life. These people who we deem as successful, whom some of us aspire to be, are flawed just like the rest of us.
When it happens to someone in our circle we find some way to explain it, reasoning as to why the person chose to end their life. When it’s someone who we read about we can’t for the life of us understand why they would go that route.
Depression does not discriminate.
There are no requirements, pre-requisites, waivers, or rain checks. This isn’t a draft that can be dodged, an invitation you can refuse, or a dish you can send back.
I don’t want to write this blog to capitalize on someone else’s tragedy which is why said celebrities will not be named. I’m not trying to take their struggles and somehow apply it to my life so I can show that I can relate. Our generation has become so narcissistic and self-centered that everyone else’s tragedy becomes their own. So many times now I’ve seen people sharing stories or pictures on social media: someone’s car burning on the freeway, a horrible accident that claimed someone’s life, someone gasping for their last breaths on social media. And always it’s about the voyeurs’ feelings, how HE/SHE feels. Like seriously, someone is possibly fighting for their lives and now their lives are being broadcast for everyone else’s entertainment? I don’t get it.
But enough of that. I’m getting off my soapbox now.
The idea for this blog came to me yesterday. I was going to write a post but didn’t want it to be too longwinded or for someone to read it and roll their eyes. I figured a blog would be best. And of course, like with so many other things in my life, I didn’t get to it. With this mornings headlines, I was reminded of the importance it is to share this story. Not because mine is remarkable. Not because I am anybody worth knowing or because my story deserves to be shared. None of that. But simply because this invisible illness is so common and yet still so ignored.
I was in 1st grade the first time I was aware of my depression. I didn’t know what it was until much much later in life but I knew something was off. I must’ve been about 7 or 8 at the time. It was recess, and for whatever reason, unprovoked, I was sad. I sat at the assigned number for our class to line up for the entire recess period. I wasn’t crying or particularly sad about anything in general, I just felt this emptiness hollow overwhelming feeling.
That nothingness has stayed with me my entire life. Let me be clear, it’s not a personal feeling that I myself am nothing. But a feeling that completely consumes my entire being. No sadness, no energy, no motivation, no anything. Just nothing. Not even a “me.” Just a void, an infinite loop of nothing.
That is not what depression is like for everyone. That is how MY depression is. Every single person is different and depression affects every single one of us differently.
I don’t know where the notion of depression = sadness came from or where it started. Perhaps at the time no one knew how to best describe it and it stuck. Like I said, I don’t know. But society has deemed depression as a sort of made up illness. One that doesn’t quite truly exist and can be gotten over like a papercut. It doesn’t work that way.
Some days are good, some days are bad, but life overall is a struggle. A constant struggle to find your balance and remain afloat.
I thought about this yesterday because I went to pick up my refill.
About a month ago I stopped taking my anti-depressant. Not on purpose or anything. I was taking some other medications and when I stopped taking those I sort of stopped taking my anti-depressants. I felt fine anyway so it wasn’t a big deal if I skipped a day. Except 1 day turned into a few, that turned into a week, and here I am a month later.
The truth is that I’m not the best at taking them. I get a 30-day prescription every month. And every month I have some left over from the days I skipped. Instead of carrying around multiple bottles, I consolidate them into the newest one. Well after doing that yesterday it now looks like I’ve got a 3-month prescription because the pill bottle is just about filled to the brim.
My depression is a part of who I am and I’ve accepted it. I think that’s why in part I tend to forget about my medication. Because it’s a low dose I tend to tell myself that it’s not really doing anything anyway, that it’s more of a placebo, and so it’s ok if I don’t take them. Except yesterday while picking up my refill I realized it’s not entirely true. I’ve spent the last few weeks really struggling to do anything. I don’t want to work, I’ve become irritable, and the interactions I’ve had with strangers, hell even personal contacts, have been hit or mess. I get overwhelmed incredibly quickly and I think I’ve only been leaving my house maybe once or twice a week. I’m not mad or in a bad mood, just slowly getting back into nothingness.
Depression is a tricky, tricky little b*tch.
I’ve been sitting here lying to myself that I’m a-ok mentally, meanwhile the depression is manifesting itself physically and I’m still happily ignoring it. Sort of like that dog in the fire lol.
So yesterday after picking up my meds at CVS and being short with both of the employees who helped me, I drove off with my prescription in the passenger seat and was like NO SHIT YOU’RE BEING RUDE, DID YOU FORGET WHAT THE HELL THE MEDICATION IS FOR?! No there is no such medicine to cure rudeness lol. But my limited energy doesn’t always come across as super polite so even though I wasn’t trying to be rude or was in any way nasty with either woman, I am 100% certain that my shortness was perceived as rude.
Again, in wanting to share about my personal struggles I already knew the type of responses it would elicit from those who don’t quite understand. In fact a few years ago, when another well-known figure took his life, someone close to me said that they used to respect that person until they took their own life because it showed that they were weak.
Those who say that “it’s all in your head” are absolutely correct. It’s your goddamn brain! The brain is the most powerful part of your body. Without it we are nothing. Trying to convince your brain that you feel one way when it’s telling you the complete opposite is going to be a struggle and your brain is going to win.
Like I said, there are good days and there are bad. You learn to live with your disease and convince yourself that you’ve got it under control. And sometimes, maybe you do. But at the end of the day, your disease is always going to be more powerful than you if left unchecked. At this point in my life, anti-depressants work for me. That may not always be the case, and it definitely is not the case for everyone who struggles with depression or any other mental illness.
Until we as a society learn to properly deal with mental illnesses, those who struggle with it will continue to be disserviced by our lack of compassion, empathy, and willingness to help.
It’s incredibly disheartening to seek professional help and be turned away or be told you “don’t look depressed,” both incidents which have happened to me personally. But persevere until you find someone who can help or can implement a course of action that can get you on the right track to getting better. You are your biggest advocate, don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression, seek help. At school, at work, in the community, anywhere.
Crisis Text Line Text 741741 from anywhere in the USA
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 1-800-662-4357, SAMHSA’s behavioral health treatment services locator is an easy and anonymous way to locate treatment facilities and other resources, such as support groups and counselors, to treat and manage depression.
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-784-2433, If your depression is leading to suicidal thoughts, call to connect with a depression treatment center in your area.
Crisis Call Center 1-800-273-8255, available 24/7/365 or text “ANSWER” to 839863
For more hotlines and helplines in the US and the UK, please click here.