If you read my posts at all, you’ve probably gleaned the notion that I am a strange fellow.
I have yet to figure out if it is me that is strange, or the world…
…Maybe it’s both.
Suffice it to say, I tend to see the world in a strange way. Again, I’m thinking you’ve noticed.
Something else you’ve probably picked up is the fact that I tend to ruminate on things.
It’s a fair cop. I do.
Partly, this is due to the way I was raised. Partly, it’s because most of the time my brain is whirring faster than anything else in my world. The rest of the time, I try to sleep.
It’s September, and more than just being one day closer to my favorite season: fall, it is also Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
What, you may be asking, if anything do these two asides have to do with one another?
Simply put, I suffer from depression. Have most of my life.
(Note: this is note one of those letters and I’m not reaching out for help here. Just to be clear.)
I guess I wanted to come out of the depression closet – or basement, as may be more appropriate – because mental illness, in this country at least, still has a big, red-lettered stigma attached to it.
And it doesn’t seem to matter how much education is available on the subject, the general populace still seems to see depression, anxiety, what have you, as a sign of personal weakness.
I’m here to tell you, it seriously fucking isn’t.
If you ever see me on the street, the odds are good, I’m suffering from some degree of the depression that has been with me since I was a child.
Most people can’t tell.
I used to think it was because most people aren’t looking. Then I thought it was because most people are too wrapped up in their own issues to notice. There may be a bit of both of those floating around in the general public.
But, nowadays, I think it is because I function.
I get up, go to classes, go to work, listen to my friend’s problems, work towards my future, cook dinner, do the dishes, and take care of my personal hygiene.
I am a functioning depressive.
Sometimes I need medication. Sometimes therapy. But 99% of the time I’m walking and talking and taking care of whatever my business happens to be at that moment.
Quite often, because I function, people don’t think there’s anything wrong with me. As if I should be hiding under the covers with the curtains drawn, only to venture out, dressed head to toe in black – to buy clove cigarettes and black eyeliner – because, ‘no one understands my pain.’
Yeah, not that guy, at least, not anymore.
I always liked Portishead better than Morrisy or the Cure anyways.
I guess the point of this missive – if any of my missives are sharp enough to leave a scratch – is that, without serious and compassionate discussion with your fellow human beings, there is almost no way to tell what pain someone is in or what battle they are fighting.
And they are, trust me on this, everyone of them fighting their own personal battles.
Depression and suicide seem to go hand in hand in this country; probably in humanity at large. Hell, even I’ve thought about it once or twice, when things got really bad.
I’m either too stubborn or too scared to have ever given it a go. Those that know will probably lean heavily towards ‘too stubborn’.
They’re probably right.
But I have lost friends to suicide.
And I have stayed up all night, on the phone, in the bar, in the hospital, driving around the darkened streets, just talking to someone who had the presence of mind to ask for help.
And if you think mental illness is a weakness, then you don’t understand strength. Strength is doing what is hard. And there is little harder than carrying around that kind of pain and feeling like you can’t tell anyone because either a) they won’t care, or b) they will look down on you for it.
Asking for help is strength, because it is one of the hardest things anyone will ever do.
Maybe I’m a bleeding heart, but I can not turn my back when someone in that much pain asks for help.
I wouldn’t want to be the kind of person who could.
(Those fuckers are scary, and usually end up making suits out of some co-ed’s skin.)
And it doesn’t matter what kind of pain I am in myself. If I have even just a sliver of strength left in me, I’ll use it to shim up someone else’s world if that’s what they need.
This is how we survive people, as individuals, as a society, as a species; we help each other.
A broken crutch, when you need one, is better than no crutch at all.
Anyways, I would prefer it if you – out there – helped the ones around you that need it. I’d like it if you could see.
But I’m not going to tell you what to do.
I will offer one small piece of advice:
Just remember that everyone is fighting their own battles, and they seem just as terrible and insurmountable to them as yours do to you.
At least, in that, we are all the same.