In the last week my lifelong struggle with depression turned ugly once again. Despondent after a cycle of depression affecting my writing affecting my depression, I was ready to take my own life. Had my brother not had the prescience to ask if I intended to hurt myself, I would have. I had every intention of asking my new housemate/landlord, a man I could not pay because I did not have money from commissions, to watch my things until someone from my family came for them, and then walk the five miles to the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, and jump in the gorge. My brother did ask though, and, sobbing, I told him yes.
Depression is probably one of the most talked about but least understood mental health issues. So many people see it as just being sad, and yes, when it is at its worst that is an obvious aspect of it, but that is not all it is. It is a pervasive drain, something you do not even notice at first early on in a cycle. It does not so much add sadness as slowly take away joy. I know on the face of it, that is the same thing, but it is not. I was not in the midst of a depression when my mom died, and it was to date, the saddest moment of my life. Through it all though, the joy of the good memories with her, and sharing those memories, seeing the lives she touched, got me through that sadness. Had I been in the midst of a depressive episode none of that would have helped. Had I been at the climax of an episode, I might not be writing this, I would be long gone.
Sufferers are often maligned as malingerers, and told to just suck it up. Being forced to behave normally when in fact, your brain is anything but, just makes it worse, if you can even manage it at all. Often, too often, we go back to work and other activities long before we are ready. I have dealt with social services twice after an episode, and each time, the attitude has been accusatory, as if I was trying to avoid work, something anyone who has ever worked with me knows is very much not the case. I just cannot manage other people right now, in part because of my depression, in part because of my anxiety, another misunderstood and often discussed problem.
This time around I was lucky. I had a brother smart enough and caring enough to ask. I had the help of the wonderful doctors, social workers, nurses, and most importantly patient care techs (seriously there needs to be a monument to those people) who took care of me the week I was in Rochester General. Thank you all, so much. I have people with a plan to help me. I cannot say for certain the plan will work, depression is so much stronger than those who do not suffer from it realize, but I will give it all I have, and at this moment, feel confident.
I urge those of you out there who think you might be suffering from depression to get screened, or if you know someone who might be suffering from it, gently push them to get help. Be patient with the depression sufferers you know. I know we can be off putting, but you would be patient with the person ahead of you in the check out with a wheelchair, well, we have a handicap too, it is just not one you can see. Be understanding and be kind, especially with yourselves. I almost robbed myself of a future with people who I love and who love me in kind, and you deserve better than to do that to yourself.
Pax et Amor;