We are Here
A person specifically sought my answer on dealing with depression. I am writing a personal response to them, but I wanted to share more general advice.
For those who are fortunate enough to not know depression, they will never understand the crushing despair of it. They mean well, but they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. With depression, you can’t cheer up, any more than someone with diabetes can produce insulin. Depression isn’t feeling sad. It is like being crushed under an invisible weight that squeezes everything good out of you and being told that the weight is permanent.
You live with raw pain as your constant companion and you feel like this is how your life will be forever.
If we could see the pain of depression physically expressed, we would look like victims of domestic violence. We would be given IVs and pain-killers and support. But our bruises are invisible and internal. That doesn’t make them less real.
I could give you all the platitudes but I know they won’t work. Right now, you are in an altered state of reality, where things that you would normally know to be false feel frighteningly true.
I remember during my closest suicide attempt, my friend Audrey crying as she listened to me discuss how much I wanted to die. “Why are you so upset?” I asked her.
“Because my best friend wants to die?” she answered. “Don’t you think I would miss you?”
I realized that I genuinely thought that she would be happier if I was dead. “Would you really miss me?” I asked, confused.
“Think about it logically. Why am I sitting here for hours talking to you if I didn’t want you to stay alive and come home and one day have our grand trip to Israel together?” Audrey asked. “How is logical to think I don’t care about you?”
Yes, it made no logical sense.
Depression is a form of psychosis where you are completely out of touch with reality and you can’t really reason through it. It makes you believe things that aren’t real, such as that you would be better off dead, or that you will never be happy again. While you aren’t hallucinating pink elephants, you are in a complete break in reality, where things do not make sense.
Think of it as hallucinations from a bad fever. I know that sounds scary to think of your mind being able to alter your reality, but it can be incredibly empowering to know that it’s just a brain fever, and it will pass, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
That’s why I’m asking you to take my words on faith and trust. This storm will pass, with treatment. It may feel like forever, but I’m asking you to believe me that one day, you will smile again and feel good.
I think you need to focus on getting treatment, but in the meantime, I suggest you work on micro-goals. They really help you slowly start finding your way back to reality.
I know it feels impossible, but fight this darkness through small achievements. Fight with all your might. Embrace that primal will to live that is ingrained in all of us. Fight even though you can’t seem to find hope.
I was inspired by the poem/song “Zog Nit Keynmol” by Hirsh Glick, a Jewish poet who was murdered by the Nazis.
Darkness takes many forms. In tribute to him, I added a stanza to his work, in tribute to his strength.
Someday we’ll no longer shed bitter tears
We’ll conquer the shadows and the fears
But until the storm breaks and the sky clears
Remember, it’s a victory we are still here
I hope it inspires you as well.