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Reflections on Depression

On the surface, depression seems like one of those things you can just throw a pill at or flippantly say “you’ll get over it”. There’s a whole lot of that conversation currently taking place in light of recent events. The worst, by far, are those people that say that God will take care of it if you let Him. While I’m not religious by any means, I’ve been part of that construct and have participated in a number of religions throughout my years. That’s abjectly untrue.

Depression isn’t any of these things. People miss the point. Depression… anxiety… other types of mental illness… these are things you LIVE with. Your everyday is about getting from hour to hour without falling apart. You cope as long as you possibly can until you get to the point where it’s just too much, and things like suicide happen. The pain of daily living and lying about your existence are just overwhelming.

As someone that has suffered and still suffers from depression and anxiety, the irony is that you have to still function in a society that doesn’t know how to embrace that dysfunction. This world is wholly unsympathetic to the difficulties the average person faces without support or recourse. Millions of people live with these things every day. So when celebrities commit suicide and reports of their internal disquiet come to the forefront, it is palpable. These are people with means, money, fame and all manner of privilege. Why would they do such a thing? Easy. For the same reason that people with less notoriety do it: they lack connection to others, they’ve hidden behind the veil for too long for fear of [list one or many here] and feel the need to take action to end the pain… and it IS pain.

Every single moment of every day, the pain lives, festering deep inside until it becomes too much. That’s how depression feels. That’s how anxiety feels. And the result of that is saying enough is enough. The saying ‘Life is Hard’ is truly not hyperbole.

Yet so many people have never experienced these conditions and somehow feel they’re qualified to present commentary and suggestions on how to deal with it, often not coming from a place of thoughtfulness or empathy. This is the main issue that I have. Even if you’ve experienced these things, each person’s experience of depression, anxiety or any other mental illness condition is specific to the individual. You don’t know what precipitated it or why they are in that place. Don’t just lump everyone into categories by condition.

Be empathetic. Listen without reservations or judgment. Most importantly, stay accessible to those who struggle. No one in that state wants to burden others with what’s going on with them. They put up the good front because it’s what is required of them, to not raise suspicion and make them worry. Really listen to their words and provide a neutral, nonjudgmental space for them to express themselves. I know it seems like a lot of accommodation perhaps, but the alternative is watching those we care about disappearing from our lives because they felt their lives weren’t worth saving or living. We’re better human beings than that.

And if you’re in a place where you’re open to seeking help or guidance, do so. And even if you're not there quite yet, you're not alone. Breathe. Keep breathing.

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