depression lies

When he was 23, my friend Steve killed himself, and though I don’t think of him every day, I do think of him often, and I wonder what kind of life he’d have now if he’d gotten help for his Depression. Being 40 and recalling being 23, I can’t imagine a person ending a life that is just beginning.

I thought about Steve today when I read Jenny Lawson’s post about suicide and depression.

Jenny says:

Talking about suicide makes me think suicidal thoughts, which is probably one of the stupidest triggers in the history of the world.

 

Nonetheless, it’s important that we do speak up and that we’re aware of the dangers inherent in the world we live in.  And it’s not just about those of us with mental illness.  About one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.  That means if you think about your 10 favorite people in the whole world two of them could be at risk of suicide.  That’s why it’s so important to recognize the warning signs and to know how to get help for yourself or others.  If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide call 800-273-TALK, or click here for resources.

 

But for today let’s talk about the positives.  Let’s talk about why we’re still here.  Let’s talk about the words that help us get through.  Let’s talk about the pictures and places and songs that saved us, because maybe they can save others.

 

I’m here because my daughter saves me every day.

 

The words that help me make it through are “Depression lies.”

 

I haven’t ever talked about this in public, but today’s a good day to start.

I haven’t ever felt suicidal, but I do have Depression and Anxiety. I suffered for no good reason for decades, until I couldn’t reconcile my awesome life with feeling terrible all the time. Talking therapy wasn’t ever enough for me, and I was very resistant to medication, because I believed (and continue to believe) that we are an over-medicated culture.

But, still, I wouldn’t just sit around and suffer if I had a treatable non-mental illness, so I went to a doctor, and I got better. Now, I take some medication every morning, and it has made all the difference in my life.

I remember the first week after I started meds, Anne and I were out for a walk. I felt her hand in mine, and realized that I didn’t have any lingering tension or unhappiness just buzzing around in my skull. I was just enjoying a walk with my wife, and holding her hand.

And I began to cry, because I was so happy.

“It’s like I was in a loud room for so long, I didn’t know how loud it was,” I said, “and all I have now is the ringing in my ears.”

She squeezed my hand and I said, “I’m going to remember that ringing in my ears, so I never go back into that room again.”

That was about four years ago, and I’m happy to say that I’ve stayed out of the room. I can actually enjoy my friends, my family, and my life. I have bad days from time to time, but I know they’ll pass, and — most important of all — I may have Depression, but Depression doesn’t have me. I know that’s sort of corny, but it’s pretty accurate, too.

So, please, if you or someone you know suffer from Depression — with or without thoughts of suicide — please talk to someone, and get help from a doctor. As Jenny says, Depression lies, and you don’t need to let it control your life.

324 thoughts on “depression lies”

  1. Read this yesterday and today I see that the company I work for is hosting a depression awareness event. Part of it will be showcasing the research the company is doing for device-based therapy.

  2. I just wanted to say thank you for posting this blog. After reading it I decided to set aside my stubbornness and seek help. I’ve always felt it was mind-over-matter, but after years of counseling and trying to find alternative solutions to my chemical imbalance with very little positive results, I had to concede that those other things will work more efficiently with proper medication.

  3. Thanks for your brave post. This is almost exactly the two year anniversary of my worst breakdown…and the depression and anxiety meds I still take have helped me tremendously. Most of the people in my life don’t have any idea the extent of it…I told my boss at the time only that I had a “medical condition” because I knew from prior conversations that she doesn’t believe depression is a disease. I’m still not brave enough to “come out” entirely, though I aspire to be brave enough to do exactly that. (I’m confident any geek friends who see this will be awesome about it…so I guess this is a first step.)

  4. Well done. I’ve respected you as an artist for years, and this only makes me respect you even more. I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better, Wil. It takes a lot of courage to speak out like this, thank you.

  5. Amusingly, to me anyway, it was The Sopranos that made me finally figure out that my problem was anxiety and depression and was treatable, after a couple years of thinking I was dying every night and at least one ER visit for chest pain.

  6. A couple of thoughts: One) I share your apprehension about medication, and the feeling that we are living in an over medicated world. Two) I have dealt with depression most of my adult life, and you and I are similar in age, so I get it. Three) There have been several times in my life where I have gone on anti depressants, and I am absolutely convinced they worked wonders for me. Four) I totally get what you’re saying about being in a loud room. Five) Thanks so much for sharing this.

  7. Thank you. Thank you for talking about it. I remember feeling so alone and messed up dealing with depression and anxiety. It isn’t normal but that doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. It’s takens years to feel better, and I’m on a great road now, and reading stories from people who have the power to make change is amazing. Thank you, Wil, for making these struggles visible and leaving stigma out of it :)

  8. I have a few more issues along with depression but i’ve found it’s easier to cope now i’ve decided to just get out and tell everyone..I don’t feel like i’m hiding anything and if people get scared off straight away they were never gonna stick around…my introduction is something like ‘hello, i’m sandi..i’m a fruit loop and may or may not try to kill you with a spoon…sometimes i hate everything but i love potatoes..please be my friend’ most people run a mile but my few friends are worth it

  9. When we were fifteen, my friend killed herself–a gun to the head, the way you do it when you really mean not to fail. I went through years of guilt, anger, and bought into the “suicide is selfish” line.

    Fifteen years later, living the American dream complete with 2.5 beautiful, healthy kids and a great husband, I was planning how to kill myself. And I believed I was doing it FOR them. I didn’t, in the end, because, while I was confident my kids were better off without me, I knew they were too young to understand and would suffer for it.

    That’s when I got help, and more than five years later I’m faithfully taking my meds for the bipolar disorder that was finally diagnosed.

    I went to visit my friend’s grave not long ago and felt a profound sense of healing and peace. Because now I understood. I still wish she’d found help in time, but I know now what depression and suicide are and what they aren’t. If it’s the most tragic end to her journey with it, at least it was an end.

  10. Thank you so much. All too often I forget that I’m not alone and that there are other options out there other than just trying to deal with it on my own. I’m one of the many (obviously) that thinks we’re an over medicated society, but the downside is I tend to refuse when it’s something that I might need. I just want to be there for my baby girl.

  11. I agree with an over-medicated society. I have CFS and Fibromyalgia and they’ve been trying to shove every type of anti-depressant known to man into me since 1996 for not only those conditions (because they don’t really know what causes them), but severe neurological pain I had before I had carpal tunnel surgery on both my hands. I can’t take those type of pills because apparently the chemicals in my brain are not affected by their use and trying to alter those chemicals tends to result in very bad effects, including a horrible allergic reaction. One thing I do know – many of the people I’ve met regarding immune diseases are incredibly sensitive to EVERYTHING around them; not that they feel like the world is closing in but they pick up everyone else’s emotions very easily which winds up exactly as you say – being in a very loud room. Some can handle it, others require the medicine to have any type of calm in their lives. I try very hard to keep myself protected from everyone else’s energy, but it’s not a perfect science. I have a desperate wish to hit the lotto so I can move to Switzerland for a year and take hemp oil treatments as they seem to help EVERYTHING and it’s a natural substance. (http://bit.ly/T4xrLA) It would be nice to have a functional body again. :)

    I’m glad to hear you were able to find a good balance. It’s always incredibly enjoyable to wake up feeling free. :)

  12. Thanks for this. I keep putting off calling for help because the depression makes me feel pathetic, and because I’m worried about the prospect of medication. I think I’m starting to get a glimpse of what it might be like to feel good, and knowing that other people have made it helps. Maybe I can do it too.

    1. It took literally years for me to finally make the call. I fought the battle and was fairly succesfull on my own – with setbacks/bad days from time to time. Then this year at the end of January, my mentor died with no warning. It put me into terrible dispair and I had a huge relapse. I went in to talk to someone who immediatly pointed out that depression disorder is pathological, which means its a chemical imbalance in your brain/system. She wanted me to stay “open” to the thought of medication. After several months of weekly sessions, I no longer have to go on a regular basis. I understand where my problems come from, as far as triggers, and how to deal with them better. I was able to avoid medication, but know a few people who say it really helps. Anyway, only you will know the right moment to make the call, but I hope you do it soon, because even that first step makes you feel tons better.

    2. All my life, I believed that I wasn’t worth the trouble. That I was, as you said, pathetic and shouldn’t burden other people with my problems. I couldn’t remember ever feeling happy. It took me failing a semester of college to start getting the treatment I needed.

      It was like walking out of the room Wil talks about, and out into sunlight for the very first time. It gets so much better. You aren’t pathetic, you are an amazing human being and you deserve happiness. You can do it! <3

  13. Thanks for helping lift the veil off of depression and anxiety. Two years ago, I tried to kill myself. It was after depression had stolen two jobs from me, countless friends, co-workers, a house, my credit, my family, a relationship, and every shred of rational thought I at one time possessed. I literally had nothing left-and was faced with even my dog being taken away from me because I couldn’t get out of bed. Things aren’t as bad now (they really can’t be sustained at such a level) but it is still really damn hard to go from having a home, a career, and a social life in my 20s to living with my parents, trying to make new acquaintances because my old friends won’t take my calls and only being capable of working a few hours a week. Fuck depression and everything I let it have of me. I fight back every day, but the second I rest it is right there, hungry and vicious. While I’m watched and cared for by wonderful professionals, it still means that I’m an adult that needs to be monitored constantly. My life goals went from seeing all the continents to getting my own savings account again. I am very proud that you faced the fear you had of getting help; if the answer was solitary and simple, no one would need to hear your words. But so many people do need to hear them, so thanks again for starting the hard discussion.

  14. Earlier this year I decided to (re)watch TNG from the beginning. Watching on the TV with trusty laptop in lap, I looked up a lot of TNG trivia and “where are they now” stuff. It was like DIY Pop Up Video. Excellent.

    This led me to your various bloggy things, Tabletop episodes, Wheaton’s Law, etc. It was SO much fun to watch you doing cool stuff with supercool nerd friends and your awesome family, and generally being an effusive, silly, joyful human being.

    I happened to be in a fairly bad bout of Depression at that time. And as I continued on my Whirlwind Wheaton Internet Tour, I started having this really creeper-style loserly envy of you, because CLEARLY you, unlike ME, were an effortlessly happy person with no problems.

    HA!

    Finding out that you, you specifically, have suffered from Anxiety and Depression was about ten fuckloads more helpful than finding out same about some other random celebrity. So thank you. I’m going to go be awesome now.

  15. “I couldn’t reconcile my awesome life with feeling terrible all the time.”

    That pritnear sums it up how I feel every day. You know how you make up your mind about something, and forget that you can go back? I went off my meds a year ago because I didn’t like the *idea* of being on it. Never mind that it worked; it was a weakness. A failure. Your post was a well-time wake up call: depression and anxiety happen, it’s fixable (sometimes, at least), and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

    I called my doc the next day. Thank you so much for having the sack to say what most won’t.

  16. Yesterday I came to the realization that I’ve been dealing with depression on and off for the last 15+ years of my life. I have gotten help for it in the past–which gave me with the tools to manage, control, and largely get over it. But it still creeps up from time to time. Quite recently it’s become worse. And I actually thought, until I read this post, that it was just job stress, life stress, stress… stress. It isn’t. Stress can put the pressure on and make things difficult… but stress isn’t likely to leave me feeling worthless and alone.

    Your post has given me some things to think about and chief among those thoughts is one that says I should probably look at getting help again.

  17. And this? This is the other reason I hadn’t commented yet. I’m not sure what to say except thank you for making me think hard about this again. I’m like you in that I truly believe we as a species are over-medicated, and I am very hesitant to start any drugs for myself. However, there are times when…well…I think it might help. It’s hard for me to tell if it’s just the usual blues or something more, but people in my life have expressed concern and it does affect my relationships, so I am thinking hard about it these days. This helps me to know that I’m not alone and that perhaps it is time to seek help. (I am not suicidal, nor depressed, but more generally anxious and moody.) We shall see.

    Anyway…thanks.

    1. Here’s my take on it, and a major part of why I did decide to start seeing a mental health professional. If you go, just give it a try, then you can find out one way or the other. If you don’t go, you could be still wondering – and trying to deal with it – for who knows how long.

      I would also suggest thinking of it this way – one doesn’t have to see an MHP because they think they have some ‘severe disorder’. It can be a simple as having a problem dealing with some aspect of their life, one that is enough to be a disruption to how they want to live their life. And talking it over with someone can help identify the problem, find the triggers, and help you figure out how to make it _not_ a problem any more. Sometimes its medication, and sometimes it can be traditional talk therapy. The type of treatment is up to you. And again – you can’t try any type if you don’t try (okay, now I feel like an odd combination of Yogi Berra and Yoda. Yoda Berra?).

      The one warning I would give about seeing someone is this – its generally a much more personal experience than going to, say, a surgeon or even your primary doc. Not in that you have to tell the MHP every little intimate detail of your life, mind. It’s more like meeting new people and becoming friends – you’re going to click with some people better than others. So if you don’t like or feel that progress is being made with one, you have every right to find someone new.

      So again – one doesn’t have to go because they have some severe psychological dysfunction. It can be as simple as an area of life they’re having a bit of a problem dealing with, that it’s causing enough of a bother and they’re having trouble with it. If one does go, things could change, things could get better. If one doesn’t, why should they?

  18. Thank you for this post, truly thank you. Depression is no joke and I have struggled with it most of my life, feeling less alone with it always makes it feel like I can cope with it a little easier. Oddly enough, Doctor Who made me want to start getting help for it, Vincent and The Doctor to be exact and now I am medicated, and feeling much more human than I had in years.

  19. Very nice post–thanks. The “loud room” analogy is spot-on. In my case, I’m still working on getting the annoying neighbor to turn it *all the way* down, but yeah, the quiet makes is easier to appreciate life.

  20. Wil, I can certainly understand many of these thoughts regarding depression and medication. I am one of the 25% that deal with a mental disorder. Luckily I am borderline, so it doesn’t affect me as harshly as it does others. When I was in college I needed and took some medication, but mostly I am anti-‘over’medication. Sometimes it is necessary, but oftentimes we are too quick to turn to the quick fix. For me I have found that changing lifestyle habits was far more effective and though I still deal with depression, I am far happier and capable then before.

    One thing I wanted to comment on regarding Jenny’s post (which overall was very good) is that even though 25% of adults may be diagnosed with having a mental disorder, that in no way means that 25% of adults are thinking of suicide, need medication, or need some sort of special care. Most are normal people that just have a different way of dealing/coping than others that is not always healthy. Also just because someone thinks or has suicidal thoughts once in awhile, does not make them suicidal.

    I say this because too often I feel people treat those with mental disorders or that share their thoughts regarding suicide as ‘strange’, ‘different’, or as broken. But that only perpetuates the problem. More than most, many of these people just need someone to treat them normally, include them, keep them focused on positive tasks.

    The best ‘medicine’ someone with a mental disorder can take is consistent daily routines. Secondary is sunshine and fresh air. Third is a healthy diet. Just adjusting to these three things can really make a tremendous impact, and not just on those with mental disorders, but for everyone. For me, having a borderline condition, these things have vastly improved my life. And from the little bits of your life Wil, it seems to me, you follow the same form of treatment.

  21. Thank you for your post. I’ve dealt with Anxiety/depression since I was a kid. I had to bring antacids to third grade – no lie. How I wish I had gotten help – and yes, medication before I was 30, but I’m so glad I have it now. I’ve lost two family members to suicide in the last 3 years. I am now a member of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. We’ve come a long way in this country, recognizing depression and anxiety for what they are, and of course we have a long way to go. Posts like yours help take the stigma away. Helps the rest of us know we’re not alone. That’s one of the biggest lies depression tells us, right? So thanks again.

  22. Wil: thank you.

    Thank you for sharing this. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety ever since puberty. At some times it’s been tougher than at others, though I’ve never felt suicidal; right now I’m in a “good patch,” where I “only” have to deal with the low-level, constant emotional ache of being at a place in life where I don’t want at all to be and constantly fighting off that little voice in my head that says “You’re a loser. Of course you have a crappy job and you dropped out of school. It’s because you’re a LOSER. A loser and a failure. Don’t even try to change things.”

    I know, someday, I’ll need to sit down with my doctor and have that Talk I’ve been dreading. I don’t want to be prescribed a medication, but talk therapy…well, to be honest, kinda terrifies me (I am a very, VERY private person, and the idea of making myself that emotionally vulnerable to a complete stranger makes my skin crawl).

    The anxiety, thankfully, has mellowed somewhat as I’ve gotten older. When I first started getting anxiety attacks in junior high, I was having them multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a DAY. Now I have maybe one real anxiety attack every month or so – but the depression has always followed me. It won’t stop following me. I know it won’t stop until I get help in chasing it off. Someday. I swear someday I’ll make that call.

    But for now, seeing someone who – from an outside perspective – seems to have everything going for them and the kind of life I want to have, come out and say “Yes, I have depression, and I have to get help to stave it off,” to have someone else say “I’ve been there and I know exactly how it feels”…

    …well, I’m sure you know how much that helps.

    So thank you.

  23. Wil, thanks for sharing your experience and for putting words to how depression and anxiety feel; I completely feel like I’m stuck in that damn room, but have never known how to describe it. I know what you mean about the meds., too, but unfortunately they’re a necessity for my OCD. Such a necessity, that they lost their effectiveness about four months ago, and I hit rock bottom for the second time in my life. The out of control OCD led to major depression, etc. and I faced that suicide demon again. Thankfully and amazingly just the thought of my sweet family and how I didn’t want to hurt them kept me going.

    Once I got over that hurdle, it was time to find a new medication, and after trying three and not having any positive results from them (in fact, just the opposite), I definitely do get disheartened. The thoughts of, “I’m a failure, I’m not strong enough, I’m ruining my life,” etc. sneak into my head every day, but I’ve got to say that hearing you and others on here talk about it so openly is definitely a help. If I, myself, can stop stigmatizing this disease, then the rest of the world surely can, too. I’m definitely not ready to “come out” yet (only three people in my life know about this), but still knowing that I’m not alone is a big first step, so, here goes.

  24. Depression indeed lies. A friend of mine was in the hospital, and his depression told him “Nobody will come visit you. Nobody really likes you.” But a bunch of us came to visit him, because we do like him and we have a good time with him. Depression lies like a bitch.

  25. Brave post.
    I resisted the meds for years and now take a teeny, tiny little pill each night; it is the lowest possible dose of the mildest SSRI and it has completely changed my life.
    Crazy that we allow ourselves to suffer because of pride.

  26. Just read this and it’s great to hear that you were able to beat it. My depression is infuriatingly truthful and I recently took the step of avoiding human contact as much as possible. It means I’ll never get to play the likes of Munchkin or Zombie Dice, or even have a wife, but on the plus side I no longer spend each day fighting not to break down in tears and wanting to kill myself. I’d be happier if I didn’t have to hide behind a keyboard, but such is life. This is just what’s worked for me.

    Having depression does not mean a person should shut themselves away. All the people I’ve known that suffer from it have all felt better from talking about it and realising that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. For some it’s even been a driving force and motivated them in their careers and creativity. Some refused to let it get in the way of achieving what they want in life and others have used the feelings from their low moods to write or paint.

  27. what if theres no daughter to be the sunshine of your life? what if the trigger for depression is something you can’t do anything about, you can’t run away from (not even by suicide as then you couldn’t leave your dear ones to deal with the mess, even though they DO leave you to deal with it), and you can’t ignore? What if you have been dealing with it for 5 yeas, with no end in sight?

    What do you do then?

    1. You go because of you.

      One of the lies of my depression was thinking I had no control. Turns out I did, and I not only do I have control now, I’m exercising that control over my life. You may or may not have control over the triggers, but you do have control over your response, how you act and react to them. It may take time to work at and get there, but you will. It took me a while, having a whole lifetime’s worth of bad reflexive and even unconscious reactions to re-train. But I did it. And I was amazed that when I changed how I reacted, how I acted, the triggers started changing too. They had less and less power over me. Some are gone. The rest are between minor nuisances and problems I can adequately cope with.

      So don’t believe that this is the only way things can be. Don’t believe that things can’t be better. Those are lies. The truth is you can live better. Your life can be better. You go because of you.

  28. A note about depression, anger, anxiety, cfs, and fibromyalgia. Studies have shown that people with high monocyte and lymphocyte
    (chronic
    inflammation) activicty will also suffer the above disorders. Diet can play a key role in controlling these negative cells of inflammation. Look into raw, organic foods and ask for a Rast allergen test to determine if your current diet is negativly impacting your health. Also consider increasing your excersise regimen and look into supplementing pregnenalone, SAMe, and fish oil.

  29. Wil, thanks for sharing this. I have felt this way on and off for 40 years. Recently in the past 4 years, it has been the job rut and situation that has made it worse and almost all the time now but I am too stubborn and proud to seek medical help. I can’t talk about it either for fear of being stigmatized. The job situation won’t be changing so I need to deal with this depression but I don’t see how. I just can’t discuss it. It is so bad that when I walk outside, I look up hoping a rock or meteor falls on me or a stray bullet finds me. Don’t have enough will to initiate the action myself at least not yet. Or am I too ashamed to seek help.

  30. Depression most certainly lies. I have Bipolar II (more depression, less intense mania) and in my early twenties attempted suicide so many times that I lost count. Emergency rooms, hospitals, pills, therapy – I’ve done it all. But I think at 32 I’m doing a lot better. I still deal with the same things, but I handle them a lot better :) I recognize them and that’s really important – for anyone.
    I’m also not a big fan of medication – but I take what I know I need to. Because I know it some cases it is a necessary evil. Like your wife, my husband is incredibly supportive – something else that is incredibly important.
    Sorry this was so long. I am thankful for your blog post. You’re in a position where people will listen to you – and they need to know these things.

  31. Thank you for posting this. I really like your analogy of the loud room.

    We can endure a lot of pain in life, but that doesn’t mean we must. I’m dealing with situational depression right now. My psychiatrist believes I have what it takes to make it back “up” on my own – supportive family and friends, a solid philosophy of life, creative outlets, etc – but medication speeds the process. Like icing a sprain or doing physical therapy after tearing a muscle. Drugs don’t solve problems. They’re tools to help. When we need them, we shouldn’t be afraid to use them.

    There are other things that can help, and they’re different for everyone. I use art. A friend of mine uses music. We all need supportive friends, and at least one mentor to talk to. Even the “healthy” need these, and we should feel no shame in making sure we have them.

  32. Beautiful post. I too shared your initial wariness of meds, but—thanks to a truly bad doctor—tried most every one. Some worked for a while, some were every shade of terrible right out of the gate. Luckily for me, my depression seems mild enough that I can control it with vitamins and supplements. This approach isn’t for everybody, but it’s worth a shot either on their own or in conjunction with meds. I personally feel much better, much more “myself” taking what I do vs. the antidepressants, which ended up taking me to an exceptionally bad place (though, at first, they felt like a fabulous vacation from myself…but what was once Hawaii became Bangkok then Sarajevo). And, of course, you should always have a GOOD doctor help you through this, since one’s perspective is often for shit when traversing the dark woods.

  33. Thank you for sharing this post. I admire you for doing so.

    I don’t speak of this often, but I feel like I should. Three years ago a friend very close to my heart, one I hadn’t seen in a while, took his own life.

    High School sucked for me, and this friend kept my head above the water when I didn’t have the strength to do it myself. I would have died without him, only for him to suffer in silence and take his life years later. I think about it almost every day and most days it brings me to tears (damn and here we go).

    So, if any of you out there need help, please get it. The people you leave behind, the people’s who’s lives you’ve touched even in a small way, they carry the loss of losing someone to suicide on their shoulders with them every day, even if they know they shouldn’t. I know I do.

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