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When You See Someone Struggling With Depression in Silence

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When I was 15, I had only been in my English class for a few months when my teacher called me to stay behind after class. I remember how high my anxiety rose. Was I in trouble?

What she said brought me to tears. She sat me down and apologized for cutting into my lunchtime. She didn’t know I’d planned on spending it in a bathroom stall with my legs tucked up so no one could identify the sniffles from my shoes beneath the door.

She started off with saying how she’d noticed how I’d stopped participating in class discussions. She knew I was a writer, and she had looked at some of my pieces earlier in the year. I’d stopped writing. I’d stopped desperately trying to excel in my favorite subject, which she just happened to teach.

She made a sly reference to the fact that I’d been wearing long sleeves the whole summer that she’d known me. I was terrified by that point. Did she know about the deep slashes on my arms? How could she have known when I hadn’t told a soul?

I consider myself an honest person, but that year I perfected the art of lying. I told my parents I was OK. I faked my way through school and kept up appearances with my friends. However, school was getting hard. I could no longer concentrate because I was constantly reflecting on the demons in my mind. My teacher was the only one to notice there was something going on with me.

The week this happened, I was actually considering suicide, which is probably not considered a logical thought, but it was a reasonable one considering the amount of pain I was feeling. I still wonder what would have happened if my teacher hadn’t made me see the school counselor, who pushed me to get further treatment.

All I know is there is an extremely likely chance I wouldn’t be here. Now that I am recovering, I want to help others. If my friends had mentioned me canceling plans all the time or the fact that I didn’t have anything positive to say, then I might have gotten help earlier.

That’s just it. No one around me was educated. The school kids who cut were just “emos” who were going through a phase. It is so damn hard to ask for help when even you don’t know what’s going on in your mind. All you know is that somewhere along the line something went wrong, and you are no longer OK or safe in yourself.

I’ve had a year of therapy to help combat my depression and anxiety, and I can tell you I am one of the luckiest people alive to be offered that support. I couldn’t have got to the place I am now without my family and friend’s support.

I guess, if you took the time to read this, then I have a few final things I want you to take out of this:

If you can see someone struggling, then ignore the stigma and talk to them. Maybe they’re already getting help, but you won’t know until you talk to them. You could save someone’s life by acknowledging their struggle and letting them know it isn’t just in their head.

You are not being nosy. You are being a good person. Maybe they’ll be mad at you for encouraging them to get help, but that is better than them being a danger to themselves.

If you’re a parent, then check in on your child or get involved in what’s happening in their lives and how they’re feeling. You will never expect your child to struggle with self-harm and depression, but I can assure you that your child wants to tell you more than anything, but doesn’t know how to.

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: December 16, 2016
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