I’m feeling better this week. I think that the worst part of the depression has finally lifted. Or, at least, I hope it has. I’m still not writing, although the creative juices are starting to flow again. It’s just a matter of forcing myself to sit down and start working, although I don’t think I’m quite ready for that yet.
In the meantime, I’ve been thinking a lot about depression and depressed people. Before I say what I’m going to say next, however, I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not have suicidal thoughts. I repeat: I am not the least bit interested in taking my own life.
But I have been thinking about people who do commit suicide. And I’ve been thinking about all the people left behind, the ones who say: “I had no idea. She/he seemed so happy. She/he was making plans. I don’t understand.” I’ve been thinking to myself, “You know what? I totally understand.”
We never know what people are hiding on the inside. I look at my life, and I think, “If I never said anything, people would have no idea how sad I’ve been feeling these last few weeks.” Every day I’ve gotten up and I’ve gone about my routine. I’ve showered and walked the dog and gone to work and hung out with friends and smiled and laughed. I probably seemed perfectly normal on the surface. That doesn’t change the fact that, on the inside, I felt a persistent sense of sadness. I’m a functional depressive.
I feel so bad for the suicide survivors, the ones who had no idea because their loved ones never told them that they were struggling. They have to carry that with them their whole lives. As people who struggle with depression, it’s up to us to reach out for help when we need it. We can’t expect others to know what’s going on inside of our heads, especially if we’re “asymptomatic.” While we can be our own worst enemies, I believe that we can – and should – be our own heroes, too.
One piece of advice I do have for those of you trying to help a depressed person: please don’t say stuff like, “Don’t feel bad, there are people out there who have it much worse than you.” That’s simply not helpful. When I hear stuff like that, I don’t think, “Wow, you’re right. There are starving children in Africa. At least I have food. I feel so much better now.” No, what I think is, “Great, I’m the asshole who’s depressed over nothing when people out there are getting gang raped in the streets and are starving to death.” That’s how negative thinking works. You don’t want to give a depressed person one more reason to feel bad about him/herself. (Honestly, I think that what most of us want is just to be heard.)