I’m a Gemini, so I can be pretty dramatic.
I need time, but not too much time because then I’m left alone with my thoughts, and find myself in the shower, creating scenarios in which I’ve been wronged, and then holding ACTUAL grudges from hypothetical situations. I need love, but not too much love, or I’ll feel like a person I once cared for truly, madly, deeply is suffocating me, and now I can only tolerate them in brief encounters. I also need space, but not too much space because then I have to ask myself why friends or crushes don’t want to spend every waking minute of hour of every day with me. Like I said, I can be dramatic. But I knew this was different.
When people are depressed, they’re in a constant battle with depression. Some days are better than others; Monday at 9:31am could be unbearable, while Tuesday at 9:22pm ain’t too shabby. If they lose that battle and end up hurting themselves, one of the first things people say is “well why didn’t they say anything?” Or “where were the signs?” Or even “how selfish of them to do this”. All of those things are pretty fucked up to say, but for a reason you may not expect.
When someone says, “well why didn’t they say anything?” It’s strange because your brain tells you not to. It tells you that you’re crazy for feeling this way and can even challenge you on WHY you’re feeling this way. Sometimes it’s because of childhood trauma, bills, anxiety, money, sexuality, poverty (isn’t it weird how finances play such a huge part in depression?) or any number of other things, but your brain tells you if you share any of these issues with anyone, they won’t understand. You’re the only one who has this issue and that’s why it needs to stay a secret.
“Where were all the signs?” is also a terrible thing to ask, because chances are, there are ALWAYS signs, sometimes people just don’t know what to look for. Have they started isolating? Has their personality changed in the last few months? Are they attempting to mask pain/hurt/failure with humor? Do they just not seem like themselves? This may sound like a Buzzfeed list of “How To Tell If Someone Is A Millennial” but hey, most of us millennials are depressed as fuck too and have no one to talk with about it.
Also, if you think depression and/or suicide is “selfish” you are ridiculously wrong. It’s the complete opposite. Your brain tricks you into thinking that the people you leave behind would be better off if you weren’t around, if you were dead, or you had never existed at all. That depression is the only one who understands you.
That’s kind of a half-truth. Because, against the advice of my depression and my brain, I reached out to a friend and told them how I was feeling. Now, I was nervous about this, because I knew it was going to go one of three ways:
1) My friend would break into a Destiny’s Child song and start singing “Girrllll – I can tell you been crying and needing somebody to talk to…” and then we would drink tea, and hug, and laugh over $14 salads we barely touched.
2) My friend would say, “Wow, I’m sorry you’re having this trouble. I’m here for you, and can be an ear, a shoulder, or whatever you need because I love you flaws and all” and then we would drink tea, and hug, and laugh over $14 salads we barely touched.
3) My friend would say “Well if you think YOU have it bad… here’s what happened to me today” and then my tea would get cold while listening to her story, we wouldn’t hug, and I would eat all of my $14 salad and then feel guilty for eating a $14 salad I didn’t even like while there were starving children not only in Africa but in the United States, in my own damned city (the ones who weren’t in cages) who would have enjoyed it so much more, and I’d realize all I got is me, myself, and I, that’s all I got in the end.
Turns out, it was number 3. Somehow, in the effort to commiserate, and find common ground, empathy has become a game of one-upmanship. Instead of “I’m sorry you’re feeling that way, I hear you, what do you need from me?” It’s become “your problem isn’t that big of a deal because THIS is going on with ME, and also, THAT is going on in the WORLD”. As if the sweetness of chocolate has any impact on the greenery of broccoli.
I realized I needed a different outlet instead of just friends to drink with and bitch to/about. Besides, I could always text that stuff later. I needed to do something about how I was feeling NOW. So I looked through photos and profiles on ZocDoc to find myself a therapist, someone who would truly listen to me, not because they cared about me, and wanted me to have a wonderful life, and great eyebrows, but because I was paying them to. I also realized choosing a doctor based solely on if you would have sex with them or not is completely inappropriate. You should choose a different therapist who you KNEW could help you, but still, find the one you thought was hot on Tinder or something.
After my first session with Doctor Bruce, I realized I was in a tailspin because for so long I had just been “existing”. I was doing what I wanted, when I wanted, with no concrete plans for the future. I had a flimsy idea of the things I liked and disliked, but I had no idea where I wanted any of that to take me. I was not a girl, but like, also not yet a woman. And then Doctor Bruce told me “It’s okay to do what you WANT to do until it’s time to do what you’re MEANT to do” – and nothing has ever stuck in my head more than that phrase. (Well except for that scene in Eat, Pray, Love when James Franco tells Julia Roberts “Don’t you want to give me a chance to miss you” when she’s just trying to make things work with him. Like how fucking DARE YOU JAMES! Anyways that scene gets me every time)
Alas, I started to ask myself what was upsetting me. Why I was allowing myself to be upset? Because that’s truly what it was. I was allowing my mood to influence my life so drastically that some days I couldn’t even get out of bed, I felt that low. And I’m not saying if you’re feeling depressed and someone says, “Don’t be depressed! Cheer up!” That it’s some magic cure because that’s bullshit. It isn’t. That’s worse than the friend talking about herself instead of addressing my issue. Cause you know what? It’s annoying as HELL when people say that. Oh, you don’t want me to feel my feelings? You want me to be happy instead of huddled over this family sized bag of Pull n Peel Twizzlers I’m going to eat in one 58-minute episode of a BBC show I didn’t know existed? Cool, I’ll do that. Fanks mate.
I knew I had to talk about my feelings because I was having so many of them. And that’s when I started to make progress and really get back to myself. I tried antidepressants, but they weren’t for me. I decided to self-medicate. I cut out a lot of unhealthy things, and people. I asked myself what I wanted out of life, and moved on from there bit by bit. Baby steps are important because it’s a climb sweetie, not a leap.
It was more than that though after I started doing work on myself, with the help of therapy and talking to other, better, REAL friends, I realized I wasn’t alone in what I was feeling, and that it was okay. That going a few feet in the wrong direction didn’t mean I would be lost forever. Sometimes you just have to slowly make your way on the right path, wherever that may lead.
And you can’t always trust GPS (aka your brain), just like, use Waze or something because there are LOTS of roads that lead elsewhere, to greener pastures.