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Depression Is Not Romantic

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Editor’s note: If you struggle with suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

It slowly creeps up on you.

Insidious little beast that it is, it speaks its venom to you when your mind is wandering.

Waiting in line at the supermarket, or…

browsing YouTube videos…

looking out the window…

reading a book…

maybe even trying to remember the name of that actor you just saw on TV.

If it doesn’t catch you while you’re distracted, it attacks you at your weakest, your lowest of the low.

It’ll catch you when you feel tired and weak; when you feel fat, unattractive, subhuman. It’ll stab you when you feel unlovable, worthless, a nuisance and a burden to everyone — especially those closest to you; those whom you love and who love you.

It’ll whisper things that are etched onto your mind: things which echo deep within you for days, months or even years on end.

“You’re worthless. Don’t bother.”

“You don’t even deserve the air you breathe.”

“All you bring is pain and misery.”

“You’re a failure.”

“You’re lazy. You’ve accomplished nothing. Look at all your peers. They have a life. What do you have?”

“You’ve used none of your talents. You just fail at everything. The lower rungs of mediocrity are your best hope.”

It doesn’t end there, however. It will also offer solutions to you. It’s helpful like that.

Having problems finding work? Some issues in your relationship? Feeling fatigued? Fed up?

“You should just quit.”

“Just leave her/him alone. You’ll only bring pain and misery to their life. You doom everyone who loves you.”

“Just go eat something awful. You’ll feel better for a second. Who cares about your body? You’re a fat piece of garbage anyway, what’s a little more?”

…and of course, its all-time-favorite:

“You could just kill yourself.”

* * *

Its reaction is rarely ever proportionate. Progressively, it offers this solution for the tiniest of things.

Your friend died?

Kill yourself. You’ll get rid of the pain.”

Your parents don’t understand you?

Kill yourself. You won’t have to deal with this hell.”

Caused someone pain? Feeling like you’re a burden to them?

Kill yourself. They’ll be better off without you.”

Feeling pain all over your body?

Kill yourself. The dead don’t feel anything.”

Feeling physical and emotional fatigue due to simply existing?

Kill yourself. You’ll be free of this torture.”

Spilled the milk?

Kill yourself. You can’t do anything right.”

* * *

All of this is going inside your head while life endlessly demands things from you.

All this is going on while you’re either working or trying to find a job; while you’re trying to stick to a healthier diet; while you’re trying to find the energy to exercise; while you’re trying to find enjoyment in the things that once brightened your life; while you’re trying your damnedest in therapy and you’re cycling through different types of medication but everybody expects you to magically get quickly within a few months; when your spouse sees your face and all they can see is a mask because you’re so drained emotionally; when you want to cry but you can’t, like being chronically unable to reach orgasm; while you’re trying to focus on a piece of text you’re reading and you have to re-read the same paragraph five to 20 times because of mental fatigue and distraction.

This insidious little beast; this Lovecraftian horror that lives under your skin spreads its tendrils, its slimy tentacles over everything in and on your body, everything in your mind, and consequently, everything and everyone in your life.

*  *  *

Depression is not romantic. Depression’s not a melancholic montage with a minimalist piano soundtrack laid over the sound of rain. Depression’s not a feeling. Depression’s not a source of creativity, or a wondrous muse. Depression’s not a phase you go through and snap back from instantaneously. Depression’s not cigarettes and moody mist. Depression’s not trying to be cool or get attention. Depression’s not a gift in disguise.

Depression can’t be healed by prayer. Depression can’t be healed by sheer force of will. Depression can’t even be healed by medication or psychotherapy alone; sometimes not even by the combination of the two. Some people recover from it; some people live with it until the day they die.

Depression is potato chip crumbs on sweatpants and watching re-runs of bad comedy. Depression is not showering or cleaning up your room or apartment because you can’t move a muscle. Depression is isolating yourself from your friends and loved ones even though the thing you need the most is love and connection. Depression is feeling like a burden to everyone, at all times. Depression is having your mind remind you of your worst qualities, your worst failures, your worst fears to you, almost constantly; overly inflated and accompanied by the most paranoid of catastrophizing. Depression is waking up every day and wondering what fresh hell awaits; wondering how many “spoons” you’ll have to spend today to get things done. Depression is constant flu-like symptoms with no compassion from anyone. Depression is the decomposition of dormant talents, wishes, desires and drives, due to a complete lack of motivation and hope. Depression is to creativity what a black hole is to matter. Depression is never being able to see even the faintest light at the end of the tunnel.

* * *

Depression is a monster.

Depression is a demon.

Depression is the weight of an entire world on your shoulders.

Depression is scorched earth; the remnants in a battlefield.

It’s not something you can brush away or magically heal. It’s not here to entertain or inspire you, so…

…please. Please stop romanticizing it. Please stop diminishing its reach and power; its effects on those it tortures. Please stop giving suggestions which contain the word “just” in them. Please save us the tough love. We’re experts at criticizing and torturing ourselves. Self-flagellation is our expertise.

Respect our experience, and inform yourselves. Realize since the brain is yet another organ in our body, we don’t have complete control over it, and that depression (and any other kind of mental illness) deserves the respect, affection and attention you would give someone with a broken leg, a heart disease or cancer.

Listen, and love us.

If you can’t do that, then just try saving your judgement and advice for yourselves.

Silence is infinitely better.

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.

Originally published: August 1, 2016
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