abnormal depression in a normal world


The lights, all the lights. The flashing cameras, the voices of strangers. It is happening again. Another celebrity has died, and mental illness gets the spotlight for a few minutes. It gets to be paraded around in front of your television screens; it gets to be talked about in such a way, you’d think it wasn’t really that bad at all.

“There’s help out there!”

“We need to talk about this kind of stuff!”

“Depression doesn’t have to get that bad, there are options other than suicide.”

And they’re right. There is help out there. We do need to talk about this kind of stuff. And depression doesn’t have to get so bad. But sometimes it does. And sometimes there isn’t any help available. And sometimes, suicide is the only option. Do you think Robin’s family didn’t try to help him? Did you think that he didn’t try to help himself? The problem here is that they are looking at depression as this singular thing, that allows it’s victims to fit in a box. Those commercials that show the woman in the grey bed, hiding away from life? That is one kind of depression, her depression. Let me explain my depression.

My depression isn’t some PSA that goes away in a wave of rainbows, because the media stops caring. My depression doesn’t always look sad. My depression doesn’t go away. Ever. It was been around since I was a small child, and will be around for the rest of my life. It is not some “temporary reaction” because I lost my job, or am having money troubles, or am a middle-aged white man with concerns. Stop looking for the answers, and stop trying to fit my depression into your box. It won’t fit, because it cannot be defined that way. Your help and pills and talking won’t always help it. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Sometimes, it is a friend on my shoulder. He dances with me through life, commenting on the weather and the size of my thighs, while I try to pretend he isn’t there. There are even a few times where I  find myself liking him around; he connects me to the earth on a deeper level, he helps me care, he is my creative genius, and I don’t know if he should really leave. Yes, sometimes he is a friend. And sometimes he is a master magician. He drags me underneath the fucking water in one fell swoop, drowning me just enough so that I can still appear A-OK the the outside world. He finds my heart, the parts of me that cause joy, and he poisons them with his venomous blood. He is invisible, he works alone. As I sit at my desk, or lie in bed, or try to make people laugh, he is there, chipping away the good parts. And they won’t see it. No, they will see nothing. Because I can still smile, I can still get up out of bed, I still shower and put on makeup and take care of my appearance. I can pass the doctor’s “Are you depressed?” questionnaire. I still enjoy some things that I used to enjoy, I don’t often have thoughts of self harm or suicide anymore.

“But are you hopeless?”
“Well of course I am, but that’s normal.”

Maybe I don’t pass with flying colors, but enough to where my doctor doesn’t worry about me. And this is my depression. It changes. It evolves. Sometimes I am okay, and sometimes I am not. Which makes it very difficult to get the help that I need. I have been suicidal, and have been turned away from help because I wasn’t “urgent enough.” I have tried therapy and more therapy and medication and more medication until one day, I realized that the kind of the help that we have available, isn’t quite caught up with the kind of help that some of us need.

So yes, sometimes depression is a companion, and sometimes depression is a sadistic magician. But sometimes, sometimes, depression becomes you. It has burrowed in so deep, that there is no longer any distinguishing between the two of you. You are he, he is you. And this where suicide “becomes an option,” except it really isn’t an option at all. It just … is what needs to happen. The only way. The only release from his grip. You tried. You tried so fucking hard. You gave your all. But now, you are tired. You are lonely, because no one can be there for you the way you need it. And you know that people will be hurt, but you know that they will be better off without you. And as someone who has attempted suicide, I don’t think I will ever quite recover from their failures. Because as glad as I am that I didn’t die, I am sometimes just as saddened at the thought that I have to keep living like this.

I’m trying to find this ordinary world that people talk about. The world where depression can be talked about and fixed and stamped away. I didn’t start out this way, I wasn’t meant to be this girl! Help me! Fix me! Nothing is as it should be. I wasn’t supposed to be in that tub, my head underwater and blood filling up around me. I wasn’t meant to drive off of that ditch, with pills spilling around my feet. I was supposed to be someone happy. Normal. I was supposed to be happy. Happy. Happy.

Not tormented.
Not a writer.

We are suffering. Stop forgetting about us. Listen to us. We are telling you how to help us, so stop ignoring that message. Sometimes you don’t know best. Help me, listen to me, stop forgetting.

And to anyone who feels lost, including myself: I won’t give you the spiel on how great life can be, if you just seek the help. All I will say is this: There is great passion here that is worth living for. Find yours, and never let it go.

15 thoughts on “abnormal depression in a normal world

  1. Erica, I commend your brutal honesty on this subject. I cannot fathom how one feels when the evil clutch of depression takes hold. It is just not in my wheelhouse, anymore than the fact that you can not rid yourself of the thoughts that cause you so much darkness. I think that is part of what makes it so difficult to understand, it is as if we are speaking languages to one another that neither of us understand.

    I do not suffer from depression. That is not to say that I have not had dark periods in my life. I have. The difference, as I see it, is that through love, support & perhaps time, I am able to move back into the light, ridding myself of the torment I felt. From what I understand of those dealing with “abnormal depression”, this is not the case. What appears to be a perfectly logical choice to those of us who do not suffer from “abnormal depression” is not an option for those that do.

    I can only hope that in speaking out & offering support to one another, we can learn together, in hopes that more lives are not lost to this tragic disease.

    As always, I wish you a peaceful heart.

  2. Bravo! Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you! I am certainly sorry that this is your story… obviously… But so damn well said! Thank you for sharing. I love that you say “ordinary”. I think I have been searching for that word for years and suddenly there it is. Not “normal”, but “ordinary”. Thank you again!

  3. those words about being someone happy, not a writer, impressed me most of all.
    you are a brilliant author, though… i guess whoever said that art never comes from happiness is right.

  4. wow…this is…something.
    very powerful, and so very true
    if your goal was to permanently imprint the very serious plight of depressed people in the minds of those you call ‘ordinary’….mission accomplished!
    and this may seem hollow and insincere, but i really hope things work out


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