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.
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.