During depression, I no longer answer the phone when these two individuals call, much less visit them or allow them to visit me in person. When I eventually have to answer the phone, because of their incessant worry, I do so begrudgingly. I can feel my stress increasing and resent these two people, who were once everything to me, because they are nothing more than an annoyance I want to be rid of. I am rude to them, I am curt in my replies, I do whatever is necessary to get it over with and hang up the phone in hopes it will take them longer to want to call back, if they ever call back at all. I don’t remember birthdays and I don’t congratulate anyone on anything.
I ignore e-mails from my mother where I can see in the preview, “I miss my best friend,” or, “I hope you know you’re still my sunshine,” and simply delete them. I resent my sister for talking about the times we played the Donkey Kong Country games together on Super Nintendo as kids—some of the best memories I have and ones that never fail to make me smile when I’m well—for reminding me of times that could never be again.
While I’m not depressed, I love my fiancé of over 12 years more than anything. I want to spend the rest of my life with him and work hard to help build a financial future for us. I have both a sexual and general passion for being with him and experiencing life together. He is my best friend.
During depression, he is a caretaker: a roof over my head, a means of support and not much more. I am only interested in sex for the temporary escape it offers from the void of depression; to feel a faint blip on the flatline. I stop working because I can’t handle it. I stop caring about the bills, whether the house is clean, whether my cat, Lily, whom I’ve cherished for the past seven years, has fresh food and water or is played with.
I stop caring about consequences because consequences only matter in a world where they will be realized. In my depressed and suicidal state, there will be no realization of consequences because there is no future, no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel and there will be no better days; therefore, how my actions affect the future is irrelevant.
This might sound like confirmation of being selfish, a coward and a horrible person more than anything to the contrary and, for someone who doesn’t know me and is outside looking in, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that. I don’t recognize who I’ve become when this happens, but my family and my fiancé continue to love me until I pull through because they know the person I really am and they understand the disease now. They don’t forsake me, they don’t think I’m selfish and they wouldn’t think me a coward if I did ultimately commit suicide any more than I think they’re selfish for wanting to keep me in their lives as long as possible.
Now, imagine yourself and the people you love. Bring to mind those you love most of all, whom you would do almost anything for, maybe even give your life for. Those for whom you would drop everything and rush to their sides. Imagine what it would take for you to suddenly not care, to become numb to those people, their feelings and their needs. Envision what awesome power would be necessary to transform you into someone simply indifferent to leaving those you love behind.
That is depression, and it is the same thing that causes people to take their own lives every day. Even before that time comes and even if it never comes, it causes mothers to lose their children and lovers to lose their best friends, long before they have stopped breathing. Not everyone’s stories and symptoms are the same; not everyone becomes indifferent like I do. For many there is anger, for many there are tears and, for those, they may suffer even more greatly than I do because they still care so much. Regardless of the form, it is equally destructive, offers no respite and leads people to the ends of their ropes just the same. Each and every victim would have a similar yet completely different story to tell, if only they could find the words, the time and someone they felt genuinely cared.
Depressed me does not care about taking his own life because, to him, any part that has ever felt “alive” is long-since dead, and he is simply ready to remove the husk from life support. Depressed me would never make this post because he wouldn’t care about what any of you think, and he wouldn’t care about changing any of your minds. The real me does, because I want a future where people realize the suffering those with mental illness endure and try to understand, prevent and treat it rather than stigmatize and blame the victims for ultimately losing their battles with it when, in every other instance, we appropriately blame the disease.