The Comeback Post: A Message To Those Who Are Ready to Give Up

Almost a year ago, a few of my close friends decided that my talking about depression and other personal struggles on FB, my blog or anywhere else for that matter was embarrassing them and my truth was causing them discomfort. They were doubtful of how much I was really struggling because there was no way I could be smiling and laughing one day with them and struggling the next day. There was no way I could be having suicidal thoughts because if I was suicidal, I would’ve gone ahead and done it already. According to them, people who are depressed shouldn’t talk about it publicly.

 

Needless to say, I was upset and angry, first of all, at how they decided to tell me (over FB messages and email), second at how they just completely disregarded my feelings and the experiences I’d confided in them about. I was told to stop being a “victim”. I was told to stop throwing around the word “depressed”. I was told to get off Facebook and my blog and keep my struggles to myself. I was told that everyone struggles in life and I was handling my struggles in an immature way. Wow.

It was easy to doubt myself and my experiences after that. I was upset for weeks and fell even deeper into a funk after facing the fact that I’d lost those friends and would probably never talk to them again. But I also started questioning whether I was really depressed and needed to be on medication or was I just not handling life well. Maybe they were right. Besides, they were my some of my closest friends and, at the time, a lot of what they said and thought mattered to me. I was tempted to send one more email where I would attempt to articulate exactly what depression was for me in order for them to understand. But that would’ve been pointless. Why? There aren’t enough words. There are too many layers to depression and mental illness and attempting to explain them to someone who has never experienced the depth of its darkness is entirely too difficult and wouldn’t lead to any productive outcome. Silence is more comfortable…for everyone. If none of us talk about it, then none of us have to be uncomfortable in facing our demons head on. Silence suffocates the suffering and gives people like my “friends” a hiding place.

So we all bask in silence, but when a tragedy like suicide happens we long to break it and seek understanding. We call out the names of the suddenly deceased, those we knew personally and those we didn’t, and conjure up our greatest and most pleasurable memories of them. We remember how much they contributed to the world and our lives. And then we ask ourselves: What happened? Why were they suffering? Why didn’t we see this coming?

The one truth that stands out amongst every suicidal death is that we DON’T KNOW what happened. We don’t know what thoughts or triggers led to that person deciding that this life was unbearable enough to end it. We can’t always be sure about what their lives were like outside of the smiles we see on social media. It is very easy to start drawing conclusions as we try to piece together what led to their death. But again, we don’t know and we never will.

As someone who knows firsthand what it is like to live with a mental illness, to have suicidal thoughts and to even be hospitalized after an attempt to end my life, I can speak to the unbearable sadness. I can speak to the abyss of chronic lethargy and hopelessness. I know what it’s like to think I am “bothering” my friends and loved ones when I try to reach out. I know what it’s like to look on Facebook and Instagram and wonder how everyone else is happy and thriving and I’m struggling. And I know what it feels like to suddenly lose close friends who I thought would always support me.

What I know for sure is that what happened last year between myself and my friends should never, ever happen to anyone. They attempted to silence me at a time when I’d finally gotten up the nerve to talk about what I was going through. I wasn’t seeking pity for my struggles or for people to feel sorry for me. I sought (and still do) to give those who remain silent and scared, a voice.

So… to those of you who feel the unbearable weight of sadness and can’t just shake it off…

To those of you who feel alone and can’t put your feelings into words…

To those who feel they can’t pray anymore…

To those of you who have given up on seeking help or you’re scared to see a therapist…

To those who’ve confided in a friend and that friend didn’t even try to understand…

To those of you who have ever thought that this world would be better off without you…

You are here. You have purpose. You are a light. You are needed and wanted. You are worth it. You belong here. Your life matters. You matter. Don’t you dare give up. You are a powerful being. You can use that power to cope, deal, live and overcome. It won’t be easy and you will struggle, but everyday you live is a victory. You are victorious. You are worth the effort it takes to invest in your own happiness and well-being. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re a burden. You are not a burden. You are a blessing.

If you have the privilege of being a “normal” person who doesn’t live with a mental illness and you can’t quite wrap your head around what a depressed person is going through, seek to understand and be a light. Offer your ear to listen. Be slow to judge what they may reveal to you and don’t offer quick, fast solutions to “solve” their problem. Sure, prayer works and it’s comforting to some, but not necessarily to a person who can’t even put into words how they feel. Just the act of getting out of bed may be the most difficult thing they do each day. So, be there. Be present. Be available. Be supportive. Offer to go with them to their first therapy session. Send a text or an email that just says “I love you. You matter.” All of this pushes silence away and allows space for healing and growth to permeate all the layers that come with mental illness.

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