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To Those Who Think I'm 'Seeking Attention' When I'm Depressed

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Despite the medication, therapy, journaling and support groups, I still experience depressive episodes. There are days when I don’t get out of bed and there are days when I wish I could sleep for 1,000 years.

On these days, I need help. I wave my arms and scream from the ocean that I’m drowning in.

Some believe that when I reach out, I am attention seeking. They believe I am attempting to garner sympathy or the spotlight. Some starve me of attention as they roll their eyes or tell me to stop being dramatic. My posts on social media sometimes result in a negative comment. I have always been accused of attention seeking when depressed, even as a child.

What these people who insist on starving me of attention don’t know is that they are half right. I am seeking attention.

But I do not seek pity or sympathy. I do not wish to be in the spotlight. I seek the attention of those around me, even if just for a few moments. I reach out and make an alarming comment or vent on social media. I do this to gain the attention of those around me.

But I seek their attention in the way you devote attention to an ill friend. I seek their words of love and encouragement. I seek for them to put down their phones and turn off their TVs. I seek for them to look at me. Listen. Just listen to me. I know my thoughts are “delusional” and incorrect. But I’ll tell them anyway. I’ll say that I don’t feel like going on. I’ll tell them that I’m a failure.

I need their attention. I need their words of encouragement. I need them to tell me that I’m wrong. That I am a good friend. That my brain is lying and I am a good mom. That my life is worth living and that better days are ahead. I need those around me to remind me that good times are coming.

I seek the attention of those around me because their words help battle my thoughts. They argue with my logic, or lack of. Their encouragement tells my brain to shut up. Their love squashes my self-hate. Their attention starves my negative thoughts of belief and support. Their words save me.

I am attention seeking when I am depressed, but it’s not what you think. It is the encouragement that I seek. I seek comforting comments, hugs, reminders that my brain is lying and reminders that I am worth something. I seek a friend to help battle my thoughts.

So if you see me drowning in the ocean and I start to wave my arms for attention, please don’t roll your eyes and walk away. Please don’t shame and humiliate me. I need you to grab my hand and help me. I need your attention, just for a while. I need you to love me louder. I need you.

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

Originally published: January 22, 2019
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