I didn’t expect that kind of reaction…
Last week I wrote a post regarding my attempted suicide just over a year ago, and the resulting effects ever since. I’m not going to give too many details, because I seriously don’t want to look like I’m humble-bragging in any way; but suffice it to say, that story seemed to resonate with a lot of people.
The irony here of course is that when you’re depressed, you feel completely alone. You feel as if nobody in the world would seem to understand what you’re experiencing. I knew that to not be the case even before writing that post, but it was really driven home to me how widespread the struggle with depression is.
And just how little attention we actually pay to this struggle.
I received a large number of messages from many of you detailing your own personal battles with depression and suicide; some of these stories I was aware of, but mostly they came way out of left field. I couldn’t help but cry while reading your responses, for a lot of you are hurting or have been hurt deeply.
While I don’t intend to seemingly turn this into a defensive post, I do want to highlight another reason why I feel depression isn’t taken seriously enough. Amidst all of the positive and encouraging messages I received, there were still a number of inexplicably cold and callous responses.
“Just get over it.”
“Grow up and move on.”
“Perhaps it’s your own fault you were depressed.”
While these quotes are devoid of context, they are exact representations of a few messages I received, and I have something to say that’s probably a little shocking: they’re right.
Ultimately, getting over it and moving on is what we have to do at some point in the midst of depression, especially a depression that contains many pains that were directly our own fault. I can honestly say that a lot of what I was hurting over could have easily been avoided had I made better decisions in my life and relationships.
While these statements may be unfortunately true on a fundamental level, they provide no actual help and are utterly useless.
Telling your friend who’s stuck in quicksand that it’s his own fault for not paying attention in the first place won’t actually…you know, get him out of the quicksand. Reiterating that he should have been more careful won’t do any good to remove him from his current predicament, and that’s one of the mistakes we make with those struggling with depression.
While the words of a few people have undoubtedly angered me, this isn’t about them. They can’t possibly understand at the moment, otherwise they wouldn’t say such harmful things. I’m not hurt by what they said, as I’ve finally gotten to a place in which I’m understanding more and more about who I am and what my ever-evolving role in life is. Honestly, I don’t think they are trying to be harmful. I believe their words, though misguided, come from a good place. They want to see those around them struggling with these issues get better. Unfortunately, it’s on their own terms, but that’s neither here nor there.
Anyway, I intended to be thanking those for their kind words with this post, and of course I’ve gone on longer talking about the opposite of responses.
Again, I want to thank all of you for your words, no matter what they were. That means you read something I wrote, and felt strongly enough to write back, which is humbling to me. I’m not promising that I’ll go back to writing consistently (because I know every single one of you have been waiting with bated breath for that to happen), but I will say that I’ll probably be moving on from this topic for at least a little while. I don’t want to broadcast this portion of my journey, as it’s not for the world to see.
At some point, when I feel that I’ve come out of the woods altogether, I’ll probably give an update. For now I’ll stick to terribly inadequate attempts at being funny and insightful.