The biggest misconception about depression is that it directly correlates to suicide in any way. People fight depression (often starting early) throughout their entire lives. While depression can lead to suicide, the two are not mutually exclusive in any way. It’s incredibly easy to link to the two, and label both as taboo right off the bat. The many conversations I’ve had with some people make it easy for me to understand why some people might think it’s all in the particular person’s head. The phrase if only they could just understand it’s within their power to change comes up in every iteration you could possibly guess, and it used to drive me batshit. I would regularly retort, “Yes, because there are plenty of intelligent and logical people out there that would gladly choose to hide away from large groups of friends and consistently degrade themselves and their lives.” As frustrated as I used to get about it, I spent years watching friends get into emotional funks and consequently getting out of them when their luck changes, or when they work to get out a particular hole that they’re in. So, even though everyone gets insight into how depression can feel at times, it almost makes it worse in terms of understanding the disease. That person that had a dark two months after a serious breakup is only thinking one thing: “I got over it eventually; time heals all wounds”. It’s difficult to explain to someone that this truly doesn’t ever go away. The best that you can hope for is finding a good way that works to keep it at bay, and much the same way as antibiotics stop helping after consistent use, you have to continue to find different ways to relieve the anxiety and isolation that depression brings.
I personally love to laugh; I happen to have a very loud laugh that causes awkward stares from people who don’t know me. I love to joke and make people enjoy themselves; it ends up being something that helps me feel good by extension. It used to perplex the people around me when I would go from possessing the world’s dorkiest grin one day to pensive and brooding the next. It’s the same reason why it’s easier for people to be friends on social media as opposed to “real life”. We can (gleefully, sometimes) hide our feelings and be there for others without having to put clothes on or draw the shades. The crazy thing is that even at my worst, I am acutely aware when I am disappointing the people I care about. Cancelling hang-outs, taking a mental health day, and hiding in pillow forts are just a few things that I’ve done in my life that I’m not quite proud of. It’s perfectly normal for someone to shrink away from a helping hand, especially because the resounding thought in my mind when someone tries to help me is, “I’m too much of mess to ask this of someone”. And boy, does depression linger sometimes. It can be standing on my door with an overnight bag and stick around for months. It can keep you up at night, making you abrasive and irritable to anyone that gets in your way at work the next day. It can cause your best friend to seem like your worst enemy. And even though you’re experiencing for the fifty-millionth time, it can surprise you and knock you on your ass.
There is an aching emptiness that follows nearly everything I do; sometimes it taps me on the shoulder and presents itself, but other times it stands behind me in a ready position, knowing that is somehow worse. Anticipating when a desolate loneliness washes over is not an easy thing to do, and knowing what it does to you is debilitating. I know and accept that the hazy stab of depression can lodge itself in my gut and turn the knife at any point in time. Here is the beautiful thing about accepting this, though; those same friends that may not fully understand the extent of the disease you’re battling are the very same ones that pull the handle out and gently press a bandage on your stomach. They come over uninvited, babbling about the latest GoT episode and eating your leftover pizza. They comment on how you look like hell and make you shower so that you can both go to a concert that you hadn’t heard of until five seconds ago. Even if it’s just for the night, they pull you out of your head and make you throw your head back and laugh at the moon. Whether you take medication or see a therapist (or both), it’s the people in your life that encourage you and bring you back from the precipice each time. There’s something beautiful in everyone needing one another to feel whole, and regardless of what anyone may think, it makes the lonely nights just a little less isolating.