I will begin this post by saying that this is not an advice blog; it’s not a resource for insight or direction, and it’s certainly not a layover for inspiration. This blog was born of confusion and distress, and the content you’ll find here is simply for consideration and connectivity. I will never claim to be an authority on any topic, nor will I try to impress upon others how they should live their lives.
I wasn’t going to write about this, this week. In fact, I never really considered writing about depression and posting it here, but just like anything else, life isn’t perfect and sometimes it has other plans. Indeed, yesterday this world lost Chester Bennington to suicide — an event that has affected me greatly and encouraged me to write about this topic because it’s real, it’s important, it’s tragic, and it impacts so many of us.
I don’t know what it’s like to be a human parent, but I am 99.9 percent sure that when my mother was pregnant with me, she didn’t consider the world in which I would be living as an adult. To take this a step further, I don’t think she ever meditated on how the world would affect me, or how I would process information as an adult. It was an “easier” time (maybe) when I was born, but things are different now in 2017, and I can only hope that expecting parents are thinking about the mental health of their unborns.
In 2001, I was diagnosed with depression and panic disorder. Immediately before my formal diagnosis, I tried to punch out of this life early, so I understand firsthand the gravity of depression and what it means to make an attempt on one’s own life. I will say this: depression only cares about you — it doesn’t care about your family, about your children, about your job, about your friends, or about any other aspect of your life. It only cares about your mind and what it can do to break down and destroy your mind — what it can do to make you drown inside of your own brain. To combat depression every day is a feat of monumental proportion, and to stave off the impulses to hurt oneself is sometimes a herculean effort. Everything within our genetic makeup propels us forward to preserve our mortal selves, but depression has a way of countering this, and sometimes the struggle between wanting to live and wanting to die is very confusing. Listen, when someone makes the decision to check out of this life, it is not a cowardly act. It’s just not. I’ve tried it, and it’s terrifying, knowing that you’re taking conscious steps that will lead to a forever in darkness. It’s a decision to cease to be, and that’s not an easy choice or an easy effort. It is – on some level – decidedly steadfast and resolute.
Ours is a hard world filled with conflict, fear, confusion, stress, hate, ignorance, and intolerance. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you’re doing — everyone comes from their own “bad place.” Trying to navigate life while besieged by unpleasant stimuli and pressure is difficult for even the strongest, healthiest minds. Mental illness compounds these stressors and can make life unbearable, even if there are things to be happy about; even if there are things to be grateful for; even if there sunny days filled with family and friends. When it comes to depression, darkness lurks behind every corner and can strike at any time, and you know what? It’s no one’s fault. It just is.
I like to quip about the choppy waves of adult living on this blog, but really, it’s a serious thing, and if you’re trying to make your way while combating depression and impulses of self-harm, it’s even more serious. Ultimately, though, we need to make choices for our own lives, and sometimes, those choices lead to absolute ends. I’m not trying to make a statement that suicide is the right choice, I’m simply making a statement that it is a choice — who’s to say if it’s wrong or right? Who’s to judge its degree of cowardliness? Ultimately, we never know what’s going through the minds and hearts of others, so when someone takes their life, all we can really do is observe the choice, allow ourselves to feel sadness, and celebrate their life. With regard to our future conduct, the best we can do is educate ourselves, be better listeners to those who are suffering, understand that there are outlets for mental illness, help ourselves, and try to help others as best we can so that these tragedies are fewer in number.
I hope that depression doesn’t embrace your life, but if it does, I implore you to try as best you can to manage it safely. I know what the lows are like, and I know how it feels to believe – really believe – that no one notices you or cares. It doesn’t matter what I know or think, though. Only your thoughts matter, and if you’re suffering, I hope you make careful choices — ones that lead you through many long years to peaceful, silver shores.
If you need help, don’t be ashamed to seek it out. DO NOT be ashamed of your mind.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK (8255)
Crisis Text Line
Mental Health America
You Rock Foundation