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To the Friends Who See My Highlight Reel on Facebook

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Dear Friends,

You know me as a mom, a wife, a friend and an advocate for her children’s rights. Maybe you just met me, here in this new place I now call home. We’ve met for play dates with our kids, discussed parenting and politics. Maybe you’ve known me forever, since we were little and brown from the sun, running to get everywhere.

You’ve seen my happy Facebook pics, the ones with my kids smiling and laughing, the ones that share quotes of strength, wit and love. You know I have Asperger’s and anxiety. Still, you think I am strong don’t you? You think I am a mama warrior to my two children. I must be because I seem so positive. It all seems so lovely, doesn’t it?

It’s not all sunshine and roses, let me tell you.

I am a warrior, in a sense, because every single day is a struggle for me, a struggle to get out of bed, to get dressed, to make a dinner for a family that at times seems to need so much. It is a struggle to face the world and smile, with all that negativity running through my head. It is a struggle to welcome a new day that is just a replica of the last, no better, no different.

I have been strong and I have swallowed my pain, tears and frustration. For seven years, I have kept the darkness away. The darkness is depression.

It’s relentless how it seeks me out and latches on, but somehow it always does. It found me after my parents’ divorce and disappeared into the shadows after the hospitalization and pills. Again, several years later as a teenager. Yet again, as an adult in my early 20s, and it’s back, slowly creeping in through the cracks so that I simply cannot see any light.

I sit here writing this letter to you from the sunny outside, a place of tall green trees, chirping birds and a cool morning breeze. If you know me, really know me, you know I love being outside. Nature can be so peaceful and healing, not today. The darkness is everywhere and light is hidden in all I see. Things are darker in hue now, the birds irritating in their persistent song. The trees are ugly and threatening. The wind seems too cold, even in this 80-degree weather. Even in my favorite place, the sunshine, I can find no peace.

I am not writing this to complain to you, but rather to explain. I feel under water right now, out of sorts, ugly. I feel too much and too little. I am simply overcome with sadness.

I will not be available for play dates. I will not comment or like your Facebook posts because I will not be on Facebook. I will not want to chat or make small talk when I see you. I will not want to be asked how I am. You know how I am. I have told you, and I don’t want to tell you again, but not because I am ashamed. I will never be ashamed of who I am or of things I cannot control about myself. I don’t want to talk about my depression with you because I don’t want to cry in front of you.

I will not wear my mask of roses and happiness when I stand before you. So if my eyes seem darker, if my face appears longer and sadder, if I do not smile at you, you will know I am still in a battle with the darkness. You need not ask how I am doing.

This is the fourth round of my depression. It is a crippling circle of darkness that visits me time and time again. I am no stranger to the risks or to the knowledge of how to win this war. So fear not my friends, I know what to do. Phone calls have been made, appointments set with the proper doctors and the happy pills are soon to come.

I will not write the word, that ugly word I now think of hourly, the word everyone associates with depression. I will say this: I love my children. In other words, I will beat this thing and live. It is my first priority at this point, living, breathing, being here for my kids.

In closing, please, don’t be offended when I am avoiding you or dodging your phone calls. Don’t give up on our friendship, write me off or unfriend me. It is not personal to you. It is personal to me. I have to sleep, cry, drown and heal.

Thank you, my friends.

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. 
Originally published: July 25, 2016
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