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What It Really Means When Someone 'Cries for Help'

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Depression is often accompanied by intrusive and permeating thoughts of self-hatred, unworthiness and utter hopelessness. The kind of hopelessness that drags you to the bottom of the sea and holds you there undeterminably. You’re gasping for life’s required air and unable to pull even one full breath.

You can’t see the surface through the depths and fear you never will again.

Depression can steal your will to fight, your will to press on in troubled times and in good. It can steal your will to live.

It mockingly reminds you of previous happier times only to pull you farther into the depths so you’re convinced you’ll never feel normalcy, let alone happiness, ever again. It consistently beats you down over days, weeks, months, even years, until you can see nothing but the moment you’re in, nothing but the bleakness and hopelessness of that very moment.

Because you can’t draw a full breath, and haven’t for so long. You feel you never will again. And in that moment, you’re fighting for your life. You’re fighting to breathe under the crushing weight of despair.

Yet you still fight. You fight for that last breath of air. For that one minuscule second can make the decision to live past the soul encompassing pain worthwhile. You beg to feel something other than the mental anguish you’ve suffered for such a long time… anything. Just one second is all you need to pull that breath of air and keep fighting.

People who’ve never suffered depression cannot understand the depths in which those with it struggle. The constant fight to literally stay alive when your own brain is trying to kill you.

I recently read a post somewhere that likened depression to a prison of war — fighting behind enemy lines to stay alive during wartime with no weapons. Starved, dehydrated and malnourished, but still fighting, still begging for anyone to give them a weapon, even if it is just a stick. Anything to stay alive.

That’s what a person with severe depression and suicidal thoughts is doing when they make that plea for help.

They’re begging for someone to give them a weapon to combat their own brain chemistry. Any weapon. It’s not an attention-seeking act, it’s not a weakness that they’ve fallen to such indescribable depths, it’s not a failure.

If they’ve finally made it to that “cry for help” moment, their own mind has been waging a silent war on their soul for far longer than you’ll ever know. They are simply begging for a weapon to keep the war going, the war constantly raging at epic levels in their mind and on their soul.

Because then they can continue the fight with a semblance of renewed strength, a glimmer of hope.

Please never discredit or ignore anyone’s “cry for help” moment. It may be the only time they’ve had the courage to stand against their own brain and say, “In this moment, I choose life.” Simply by coming to you, they’ve chosen life even if they don’t realize it.

Don’t ignore your opportunity to hand out that one solitary weapon that could fortify their walls against the constant onslaught of depression.

That one cry for help may very well be the only one they’ve got left in them.

Offer them your hand; take a stand with them against the depression.

Fortify their walls.

Give them anything in your power to fight, and by God, understand they’re showing courage and strength by reaching out amidst their suffering and asking for help.

You may not understand how incredibly hard it is in that moment to say, “I choose life.”

Because depression lies. It lies constantly and consistently, though they fight against it.

I would know. I’ve fought depression for as long as I can remember and as hard as I possibly can.

Depression tells so many lies.

It tells you you’re unworthy — of love, attention and even existence.

It tells you you’ll never be worth anything.

It tells you no one wants you around.

That they’d be better off without you.

That all you do is complicate their lives and annoy or burden them.

It tells you you’re dumb, even when you know you’re intelligent.

It tells you you’ll never be happy again.

That the deep soul shattering pain you’re enduring right now will always be your norm.

That you’ll always have to endure the invisible pain.

That there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

It tells you you’ll never make anything of yourself.

That you have never done anything in your life worth your existence.

It tells you you’re ugly and that you’ll never feel comfortable in your own body.

It tells you your entire existence is actually non-existent — you’re nothing to anyone.

That you have made no mark on the world.

That your company is dull or annoying and no one wants to bother spending time with you.

It tells you you will never get your life in any semblance of order.

That you’ll fail at everything you try.

Depression tells you to hide it.

It tells you no one would care about your internal suffering.

That no one would understand or believe you.

And if they did — they would certainly look down on you for such a weakness.

It tells you to hide it under a fake smile and a soft, “I’m fine,” or, “Things are good,” or “Nothing’s wrong.”

It tells you in no uncertain terms that they don’t care

No one cares.

That friends and family would rather not be burdened with you and your problems.

Depression whispers over and over that you don’t matter and never will.

That it will win.

And in those darkest moments…

Its so hard to fight back.

Its so hard to tell depression to back off. To go away.

It’s so unbelievably hard to simply make it to the next moment without giving in completely and agreeing with everything depression tells you constantly.


Its like trying to take a deep breath submerged in a vat of jello.

Always fighting for that very next breath.

You’re not sure you can keep fighting.

You’re not sure you want to.

Because the pain is too great.

Too consistent.

Too soul wrenching and faith crushing.

Depression lies.

And if someone has the bravery to stand against it and and scream with their very last breath, “I choose to live” they deserve every chance and every solidarity one can provide.

Be their last breath.

Be their defense.

Be their weapon.

Because at that point, you could be all the hope they have left.

Fortify them.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us a story about a time you encountered a commonly held misconception about your disability, disease, or mental illness. How did you react, and what do you want to tell people who hold this misconception? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: June 24, 2016
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