Not an academic post, but this is something I care about. If you don’t want to read about this stuff, then fine on ya. Here’s some comics I like instead: https://xkcd.com/, http://theoatmeal.com/, http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/
So everyone who knows me personally knows I’ve been fighting depression for the past couple of decades. On the surface when out in public I would look bubbly, be very productive at work/school, have friends I could joke around with, and behave as healthy as one could. Then I would get home and my ex would be there so I had to keep strapping on the fake smile and laughter. It’s a mask. As soon as I would get alone time I would finally be able to just be depressed me. And this would pretty much only happen in the bathroom or in the car. I was always wondering when it would be too much for me to handle and walk away from this life. About five years ago I started letting people know that are close to me rather than the silent battles I would constantly be fighting. I wouldn’t just go exclaiming, “I’m depressed and hate everything and don’t want to be a part of this world!” If the situation came up where someone would ask what’s going on if I wasn’t up to my usual bubbly self I would tell them that I have depression. I try to make it normal to talk about this stuff.
There’s definitely a stigma from certain people after this, but I don’t give a shit. The feeling of depression is almost impossible to describe to someone that doesn’t have it. They usually think it’s just being sad. Sad isn’t as crushing to me. I wish I was sad instead of depressed. It’s like someone with a migraine or a cluster headache describing what those headaches are to someone that has to pop an ibuprofen when they get a tension headache. It’s still unpleasant, but everyone I’ve talked to that gets migraines wishes they had tension headaches instead.
Thoughts of suicide are definitely regular regardless of pharmaceuticals or therapy. Though I don’t let most people know it’s that severe because I don’t want to get babied. I have two close people who I can talk to about this and they remind me of perspective. I don’t buy that “he/she is selfish because they ended themselves” bullshit. When the pain is that bad, it’s almost impossible to have empathy for them. When I see a suicide from someone I know I just think “I’m sorry for the friends and family, but I’m glad they aren’t suffering” because I know what the suffering feels like. All the analogies about “losing sight of the horizon”, “feeling a crushing feeling”, or “feeling hopeless” don’t really do justice to the true feeling. What I have found helps for me isn’t trying to explain to other people how I feel, or other people explaining how I should feel, or telling me jokes to cheer me. What helps is knowing there are people there for me, that whatever I want is the right thing, and that what I’m feeling is really happening. That I shouldn’t feel alone, and that people shouldn’t tell me to cheer up, or that it’s going to be okay. Give me a hug, say you’re there for me and check up. Feeling loved/wanted even if I’m not accepting it helps. Being on an island isn’t good; this needs to be treated like any disease where a good support structure can make a huge difference. We need to be able to talk about depression, and not just talk about talking about depression. As human beings, we need to be there for each other and treat everyone as humans.
I don’t have a solution to this problem, but I know what helps get me over the next hump. It’s Mental Health Awareness Day, so I thought I would put this post out there since I try to spread awareness throughout the year whenever I can, and I don’t really care so much about these special days for everything that exists in the world. But I do know what it’s like to live with depression, and I hope that everyone out there recognizes the symptoms and maybe tries to do something useful. Understanding that this isn’t just a mood is step one.