I’ve thought about this post (off and on) for at least the past six+ years. I never really know how to go about addressing it, or what to say. Plus the timing is never right. And then more there were a slew of such posts and they were much more eloquently written any time I thought about sharing … but I’m dipping my toe into the water. And slaughtering more euphemisms while I’m at it. [I decided last year that the third Saturday of January would be when I post this … so … it’s now or never.]
In ~2012 had been planning on titling this “My Normal Isn’t Normal” – which, it isn’t, but in this case, I don’t like that. Because … depression is normal. Or, normal enough for far too many people out there. And it’s not a fault thing, or food and exercise. I have … so many differing views and opinions. For example, I think there’s a major difference between depression, and being depressed. Anyone can be depressed – be it for a day, a week, maybe a month. Whatever. But suffering from depression isn’t the exact same thing. [It’s like squares and rectangles I suppose.]
For someone who is determinedly in control and “has it together” (or at least a semblance of it, and definitely by societal standards) – it’s interesting. And considering my general line of work, it’s almost an oxymoron that I do what I do and have severe clinical depression. Just piling it on like a masochist?
I’m okay now – or at least – I think so. I have a handle on things, or I hope I do inasmuch as I can. Maybe. But sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I ask for something happy to distract myself, which perhaps isn’t the best way to cope or treat, but you do what you can, and sometimes treading water is winning the battle. Then of course there’s the more practical matter of medication. I’m definitely on that too – an anti-depression, anti-anxiety med. Hefty dose.
It’s hard to explain. As I said – I was always perfectly put together. Nobody knew I always always had a razor in my purse throughout high school. Always. In university I reached a point where I just … was so low. I didn’t care. I was constantly suicidal. As in, anywhere I went, I’d consider what if anything I could use to kill myself, or die. I have so many examples that I won’t get into, but I will share one. I once stared at a plastic knife on my table, wondered if someone could use a plastic knife to commit suicide, and used it to cut myself – and this first instance of (almost nonexistent) self harm was what drove me to getting help. Because I clearly did not have a handle on things. [Note: I’d never choose suicide by plasticware. I’d definitely have/do something much more effective. And practical.]
When I met with the therapist she asked me some questions, one of them relating to suicide. When she asked me how often I thought about it, I responded … and her reaction was disbelief, so much so that I could tell she was certain I was making it up or exaggerating. Being … well, me – I immediately amended my answer to something more socially acceptable. Something that would show her it was serious and I had a problem, but not something that would immediately get me admitted to the psych ward. Or perhaps even worse, having everything I said dismissed out of hand. I’ve always been very aware of the threat of being 8100’d(ed) and doing my utmost to avoid it. Clearly we’re broken as a society. Humanity isn’t understanding of mental health as a whole. Question mark?
I think a number of suicides happen not only when the person gives up and can’t handle it anymore, but s/he honestly thinks and believes that the world would be a better place without her/him in it. That it wouldn’t matter – and in fact might run more smoothly. In fact it would make everything better. You resent everything, including yourself, constantly, and consider suicide not only a viable, but the best solution.
You get to the point where you can’t commit suicide because it’ll nullify your insurance policy. Then find out that that’s sometimes an archaic provision, but you’re scared to look up what your policy terms are because you don’t know what you’ll do. You can’t trust yourself. I’ve been there. (By the way, anyone on the verge of freaking out and about to push “call” for the suicide hotline for me … don’t worry. I don’t have a life insurance policy now.)
When you have a number of contingency plans on how you’ll go – but you also know of various failed attempts and find that unacceptable. Because you’ve gone so far as to do the research.
Beyond all the obvious, beyond all the basics, I think what makes depression so difficult is the different levels of it. And how differently each individual approaches and handles matters. Then there’s the fact that so little knowledge is out there. I only learned in the past few years that depression often manifests as aggression. Especially in younger individuals. Sometimes you learn new things or observe someone else’s situation and then the mental light bulb goes off.
I also really really really hate it when people say “you’re depressed because you choose to be depressed.” Sure, for some people, that’s the case. But for others, there’s an actual chemical imbalance in the brain. A genetic predisposition towards mental health problems or issues. So basic bullshit platitudes don’t help for someone in that situation. It only makes them (me) feel worse for not being able to fix things – fix myself – through sheer strength of will. Please – don’t do that to people unless you know their individual situation. Same with “just eat better and exercise more and you’ll be better and no longer depressed.” No. Of course those things help – but they won’t necessarily be the cure. I promise you. Nobody actually enjoys suffering from chronic depression.
I don’t have any answers. I obviously don’t have any of my own shit together. I’m just … opening my purse and dumping it all out here. I guess this is just my “so this happened … or is going on” – and also, to offer what support I can. You are not alone. We are not alone.
I think it helps to open up and share. To try and knock down a little bit of that stigma. Sometimes silence hurts more than anything else. It’s okay to not be okay. Take what time you need, and realize that self care is just as important as any other type of care.
I’ve never thought about suicide, I’m more of a ‘I don’t care’ kind of depressed. It doesn’t matter how important something is, or how much it will impact my life or my family. I just can’t bring myself to care. I will make myself do things for the sake of the kids and hubby, at the moment that’s my limit. I hope a change in dosage will help or pain meds or something. There is a lot going on and depression is linked to fibro anyway, so who knows.
I live between fantasy worlds, between reading, gaming (PS4) with my boys an d I now have my writing, I spend as little time in the real world as possible. Is that coping or hiding?
You know where to find me, I’m always here for a shoulder, even if I’m to far away for more than a virtual one.
Thank you so much for your comment, Hollie, that means a lot to me. I’d also like to return the sentiment and say I’m sorry you’re dealing with depression, and I’m always here for you for talking, venting, whatever.
Lack of interest is definitely another way depression manifests, and it’s so difficult – and not at all “lesser” in any way.
I think you cope as much as you can until you feel better, and then focus on dealing with things. Rinse and repeat.
Wow. They say writing is to open a vein and bleed. No pun intended. I admire you for putting it out there this way. A friend refuses to mention suicide to her therapist because of the stigma/label attached to it. I’ll keep you in my prayers as I do her.
Thank you, Barbara, I want to let you know I’m really touched by that.
My heart breaks for your friend – how difficult to be dealing with such a heavy thing and … unable to even mention it. I’m glad she’s in therapy though, and hopefully she’ll reach a point of trust where she will talk to her therapist about it.
Therapy never really worked for me. (I think I saw bad therapists >.> – actually I know for sure one was awful.) – and my ~insurance doesn’t cover it, but at least it does the meds. I didn’t start those until after LS though because of the stigma, so I get it.
Mental health is such a taboo subject, made worse by all the misconception and misunderstanding out there.
Your friend is lucky to have you. <3
I think a lot of people will feel as I do, which is that I don’t know what to say and am scared to say the wrong thing. But I’d hate for you to have written this and not get responses because of that reaction. I do admire you for battling for so long against something so overwhelming, and I do hope that the medication helps. You are so right that sometimes there’s a chemical imbalance, and that has to redressed before anything else. And congratulations on writing this post, and I hope it helps you.
Helena, never ever apologize for commenting!! <3 I really appreciate you responding – and I do respond very positively toward it. I know what you mean about not knowing what to say – because when others post things like what I did … I never have any idea what to say either.
I’m hoping we can all offer each other some support and understanding – it just helps to know what’s going on, yeah?
I have to tell you – for whatever reason, yours was the first comment I saw in my email and it totally made my day AND gave me a huge sense of relief that I decided to actually schedule this post, and not hide it away for another six years, so thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
You’re very welcome.
You know I’m here. And you know I can relate.
<3 <3 <3
[I used to sit in my closet too. And crawl under my bed. I remember talking to friends on the phone in high school from under my bed.] XD
depression is a real disease. hugs to you for being brave enough to share it.
Thank you, Denise. Everyone is always dealing with something – and I think never talking about issues too often hurts more than it helps.
Heh. And I think we all know this is the fourth Saturday so I’m late but … pretty sure we’ve already established I’m a mess so that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. XD
<3 to you all <3
Please know the world would not be better without you in it. Pushing through each day shows how strong you are, and so does sharing this powerful message.
You touch many lives. Gentle ((hugs))
Thank you, Louisa, when I get in a funk or hit a bad spot it really doesn’t feel that way, so I’m so glad for your comment. <3
Lime, you brave and wonderful lady. Thank you for sharing this. I too have clinical depression, which I shared publicly only after I wasn’t able to get to RWA last year. The compassionate responses I got floored me. So many others are going through it too, often feeling alone. We’re not alone, though, and there are lots of people who understand. Just knowing that is sometimes enough to put the heart back into me. And sometimes it’s not. Depression is changing and deceitful.
Wishing you the best, always. You’re a sharp-witted and delightful presence in the online romance community. The world is the better for having you in it.
Theresa, I saw your tweet first, and it made me emotional – and both times I’ve read your comment have made my [happy] teary. Thank you. Thank you so much.
It’s so nice – and so important – to not feel isolated and alone. I’m so glad you’re there for me – and in return, I’m always here for you. Email, text, twitter, whatever. <3 Thank you.
ALSO also – I remember when you couldn’t get to RWA. You ARE enough and I think it took a damn lot to drive 200 miles to get to an aiport. I probably wouldn’t have. (And flying is one of the few things I *don’t* have issues – funny considering my near phobia of heights.) ANYWAY – I’m only disappointed you had to go through all that mess, that you had to suffer through the airport and canceled flights.
I’m sorry to have missed the post when it first went live, but (sorry I think comments were closed there? Or I’m too stupid to figure it out :P) anyway, thank you for sharing, and I’m glad for you that you have so many lovely comments to look back to on darker days. <3 [Just imagine mine there in spirit!]
Thanks, Lime–that means a lot to me. You’re so right, it’s important not to feel alone. One of the things I regret about RWA was not getting to meet you in person. We would have rocked NYC. 🙂
My heart goes out to you. It makes all of your bright, funny, insightful tweets even more touching. You will be in my thoughts.
Thank you so much, Linnie. <3 I’m all too aware of how much a drag “Debbie Downers” are (and I’m probably not just a card carrying member but an officer of that club :P) so I try not to let myself wallow all the time.
I so appreciate your comment, and it made me smile – thank you. <3 <3
I’ve been in therapy for years. YEARS. And every time they ask if I’m suicidal, I say no. Because I don’t want to be locked in a padded cell. Even just on a 72 hour hold, I’d lose my job. Lose my license. Not be able to provide for my family. All because there’s something wrong with me, chemically. Something I can’t help but I try. I try to keep my head up and keep on keeping on. But there are certain days that I lose the struggle and I don’t get out of bed. Because I know if I do, I’ll do the unthinkable.
Thank you for sharing. It helps to know that we’re not alone. Sending you hugs and love. Know that if I can do anything for you, I will.
Paige, I’m glad you’ve been in therapy, but I’m so sorry you can’t be honest because of your profession. I think it’s horrible the stigma attached to mental health issues that prevent people from getting treatment. It only hurts in the end, but society is too short sighted for that it seems.
I hope you know I’m here for you too <3 and I think you’re fantastic. <3
Oh honey! Big hugs to you, and kudos for following through on your decision to talk about this. As the mother of a smart, intelligent, wonderful kid with bi-polar disorder, I deal with this secondhand a lot. I am amazed that people with depression, anxiety, and other conditions manage to function at all, and I admire and respect you very much.
*Hugs* right back to you! Sometimes I ~forget the stigma attached to mental health/bipolar because so many people I deal with are diagnosed as such and I work in an environment that is (supposed to be) focused on restoration. Thank you so much for your comment – and also know if you ever want or need to vent I’m here. 🙂
I don’t suffer from depression but in recent years I’ve read many touching and revealing posts from brave people like you, Lime, who share what it’s like. What I’ve learned (which I think is so important for people to understand) is that depression can appear in different forms depending on the person. Another thing I’d never realized is that often times depressed people don’t seem or act depressed. They hide it, or fake it, but inside they are being shred to pieces. Reading posts like these are very eye-opening for me. Thank you so much for sharing something so personal.
<3 <3 <3 Thank you so much for your comment, Lynn. I can’t tell you how much each ones means to me – and people are lucky to have such a wonderful and understanding friend in you. You are an ally, an advocate, and openminded. Thank you.
I think it’s tough to talk about depression because of the stigma, and as you said the many ways it manifests. Also, I know at least in my case I’m always afraid of whining too much and being abandoned entirely. It’s such a downer to see someone who is constantly negative – and nobody wants to be surrounded by that. It’s just … all difficult.
Thank you for sharing this very personal issue with us. I have the experience of feeling depressed but thank God, not any clinical depression, so I understand what you mean. But I’ve been surrounded by people who really had depression and even people close to me that commited suicide. Depression is an illness that can kill you, as simple as that. Like ebola or cancer.
We, the people around those that suffer this sickness, do not always say ‘you’re like that because you want’. Many of us assume it’s an illness, and we feel so helpless and worried and guilty…Suicide does not solve anything. I’ve lost people that way and it’s awful, it leaves a void and a pain that the years do not cure.
Bona I’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with being depressed – not fun at all, huh. And I’m so very sorry that you’ve lost loved ones to suicide. So very sorry.
I don’t know what to say or what comfort I can offer, but if you ever want to reach out and just chat I’m here. And I think it always is important for people to be reminded that yes in fact there are people out there who care. <3
So on behalf of your friends and others – thank you for being there. 🙂