Featured image: See full featured image description here. Tim Curry screenshot from Giphy. Dennis Miller screenshot from SNL on Peacock.com. “When You Suffer From Depression” from Boing Boing on Facebook. Steven Universe screenshot from Giphy, caption added in Affinity Designer. Combined in Affinity Designer. For audio, see the YouTube video.
4 for Now
If you’re in crisis, this page has a list of Helplines,
Suicide Hotlines, and Crisis Lines in many countries.
Nobody likes talking about it.
For some, it’s triggering, it keeps us mired in unwanted feelings, or it sparks unhelpful (and sometimes harmful) advice.
For others, it’s uncomfortable to think that people we love feel this way. It’s hard to accept that you can’t help someone you care about, and most of us have a hard time doing nothing, even when anything we could do won’t help.
But I’m talking about it today because it’s important. We need to end the stigma so folks who are struggling get the help we need and so the folks who want to help can learn how, without shame.
I’ve been pretty quiet for the last few weeks because I’ve been struggling through the worst depressive episode I’ve had in almost a decade. I wanted to end my life, something I’ve only considered twice before (and haven’t tried in 26 years).
I’ve spoken about my depression before, to friends and family on Facebook, because talking face to face is so hard for me, for several reasons. On top of the reasons unrelated to depression:
- I’m afraid of making folks feel bad, whether just bringing them down or outright triggering them.
- I don’t want to hear the empty platitudes and useless advice that are the common responses to this kind of thing.
- Despite what it may seem online, I don’t like sharing information about myself. Especially something this intimate and taboo.
- Part of me is afraid of getting help, because I’ve heard and seen horror stories (true and fictional) about folks being medicated or hospitalized against their best interests, and how that can spiral into hardcore gaslighting and other manipulation.
I know most people giving advice after someone admits to being depressed or suicidal truly wish the best and want to help. But because we (as a society) don’t talk enough about what depression’s like and what can be helpful, most folks don’t really know how to respond.
Complicating this, everyone suffering from depression/suicidal thoughts are individuals and therefore will respond differently to different tactics.
If you’re interested in hearing more about my personal experience with depression and suicidal thoughts (with an extra helping of anxiety thrown in to make it even more interesting!), whether that’s:
- what I go through
- how I’m triggered and what I do to get through it
- how (I think) folks should respond
- or something else …
… let me know.
I will leave you with this: if someone tells you they’re struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, the best thing you can do is listen.
Sometimes, all we need to do is vent. It’s a big burden to bear on our own.
Sometimes, whether we say it outright or not, what we say to you will indicate how we want to interact.
So don’t stop listening at “I’m depressed,” then tell us, “It’ll get better. Just keep your chin up.” Listen all the way through. Hear us. And respond accordingly.
4 for Later
- 5 Ways Our Lifestyles Can Cause Our Depression by René Brooks (5-minute read).
- We studied depression messages on YouTube videos and found dangerous and stigmatizing stereotypes prevail by Andrew Devendorf (8-minute read).
- More things people need to stop saying: 20 ‘Harmless’ things Parents Say That Are Actually Emotionally Abusive by Juliette V. (11-minute read).
- The You Rock Foundation: Jonathan Davis of Korn. He talks about what triggered his depression and anxiety, what it felt like, and how he’s gotten through it (7-minute video). CW: Substance abuse, NSFW language