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.