When I was in my 20’s I spent a lot of time trying to explain to people what depression felt like. I had been first diagnosed with it when I was 8 yrs old and by the time I got to high school, thoughts of wanting to not exist anymore had taken up residence like squatters in my brain.
It was really important to me that my close friends and family understood how miserable I felt. If I ever got brave enough to kill myself, I didn’t want them to be surprised or wondering why.
See, I had a friend who killed himself in 10th grade. It was a total shock to everyone. He was Mr Popular; everyone liked him. He had a strong family with whom he was very close. He did great in school, was in the band and loved his sax, and volunteered with the Boys Scouts. And then one day, he was just gone.
Losing a friend, especially in that way, is awful. But eventually you get over the grief of it. What I haven’t gotten over, even to this day, is the unending question of WHY. It feels like I’ll never truly be able to put his death behind me because I’ll never be able to get that question answered.
And I never wanted to do that to my loved ones. So I was going to make sure they knew why. That, to the best ability of someone who’s never experienced depression, they could understand why ending my life was considered a better option than sticking around this life.
I found a book that I thought really explained it well. It’s called Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the Surface by Martha Manning. I asked my parents to read it. My dad started it but eventually stopped saying it “was too depressing.” Go figure.
Although I’ve been mostly free of the beast that is depression for 13 yrs now, I just found a blog post at Hyperbole and a Half that does an AMAZING job of explaining it.
It isn’t always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn’t even something — it’s nothing. And you can’t combat nothing. You can’t fill it up. You can’t cover it. It’s just there, pulling the meaning out of everything. That being the case, all the hopeful, proactive solutions start to sound completely insane in contrast to the scope of the problem.
Amen, sister. But even more poignant and, to me, meaningful, is her explanation of feeling suicidal. It’s long, I can’t do it justice here, but it starts:
I somehow managed to convince myself that everything was still under my control right up until I noticed myself wishing that nothing loved me so I wouldn’t feel obligated to keep existing.
Because it’s not about wanting to kill yourself at first, it’s really just about wanting everything to stop. Get off the merry-go-round. The biggest problem for me was trying to decide how to make that happen for myself without leaving my friends and family needing therapy for the rest of their lives. That would hardly be fair.
I encourage you to take 15 minutes and read her blog. It’s very well done. Depression Part Two