Anonymous asked: I know you said you don't like to think about it much, but you mentioned that you've thought about...you know...I have to ask, for perspective, what was that like? Don't answer if you don't want to.
Well….to understand it I think first something must be understood about depression.
I think a lot of people think about it like a rubber band being stretched. That sad events build up one on top of another, and that each action builds the pressure on a person, until eventually they can’t hold up any more and the rubber band snaps. Depression is not like this. Depression is more like existing at a point below the surface of an ocean. It is not something builds up due to any particular stimuli, there isn’t some catalyst that sets off bad thoughts. It is just a simple existence at a point where the pressure is greater than it normally would be. If you are at a certain point below the surface, the pressure will be the same whether you’re swimming along or standing still. Pouring a cup of tea, or crying in the corner.
To put this into a day to day perspective, for a number of years I volunteered at a local animal shelter. I love animals dearly, dogs and cats in particular, and during a particularly hard time in my life, this was one of the things I truly enjoyed doing. I would come in every weekend, help clean kennels, exercise animals and even assist the vets from time to time. Everyone there was extremely nice, perfectly kind and even loving to a degree.
The thing about it was, the entire time I was there I was absolutely convinced that everyone in that building besides a few people hated me. It wasn’t because of anything they did, there was no malice in any actions they took, everything they ever did was perfectly friendly. I just existed at a point in which the pressure around me was always there, the pressure of depression, the life below the surface. Every single action I took at this place I loved was marred by the thought ‘I have messed up. I am a burden. I should be doing more. They probably just don’t want to tell me.’
Nothing in reality supported anything of the kind.
I won an award for my service, the woman in charge of the shelter told me that adoptions usually went up when I was around. Every single person I encountered there had nothing but good things to say about me, but I had no good things to say about myself. I was perfectly cheerful the entire time I was there, and if you had asked anyone they probably would have said I was a bit shy, but quite a jovial person all around. Internally? I didn’t mirror any of that. I accidentally filled out a forum wrong once, the receptionist told me as much, and laughed about the mistake.
I went home and cried for an hour.
No matter how tiny the mistake, or how the people around me took it, I only saw the mistakes. I only saw the dogs I liked who never made it to good homes, I only saw the few times I forgot to walk a dog who had to hold it until someone else came by, or mess up thier cage, I only saw every single thing I did wrong.
I never even did anything that bad. I think the worse thing I ever did in my time there was mix of two kennel cards, which resulted in a dog getting an unnecessary checkup. If you were to look into my brain and see what I was thinking? You’d have thought I got the poor thing euthanized.
And that’s the thing about depression, the thing a lot of people don’t understand. It doesn’t take some giant cataclysmic event to lead someone down a spiral from which they don’t always return. It doesn’t take the death of a family member, or the loss of a home to drive someone over the edge.
Imagine, just imagine if you existed under the surface of the waves. If you were under a constant pressure from all sides. If that pressure was doubt and self loathing. Imagine if every single action you ever took was played out in only the worst terms your mind could come up with. Imagine living every single day like that without ever once having a break for years.
Take that, and then put the idea in someone’s head that they could stop it all. That they could just stop all that pressure. Not even that they could get to the surface, that they could just make all the terrible things they’ve imagined they’ve done, relieve the burden they imagine they are, just make it all stop.
At that point, you will start to understand the idea….
Now, if any of you reading this sadly don’t need the illustration, let me say this. All the things I was thinking, every single negative thought in my head- and mind you I do not curse much- was complete and utter fucking bullshit. And no matter how low you feel right now, no matter how far below the surface you find yourself, and how great the pressure is, know this; know that someone, somewhere, is swimming down to you. That they want nothing so much as to take you into their arms and hold you close in the dark. Sometimes, you just have to be the one to tell them you’re drowning. Know that even if you are too scared to let them know, that there is good in this world, and that you should go out there and see it for yourself, not close your eyes and think there is only one way.
When I was working at the shelter, the receptionist just took me aside one day as the place closed. I didn’t know her, and she didn’t know me. She just gave me a hug, and said thank you. She said that I was a huge help and had a good heart….and that was enough to help…it didn’t heal me, it didn’t cure me, but it did help me.
Know that, even if it’s just a random cashier you encounter on a daily basis, someone thinks this about you. And if you are not below those waves, know that someone you encounter needs the same.
In either case, just smile, smile to someone, whether you know if they’re drowning or not. Just say to that person “Hey you, yes you, you are wonderful, and good, and so brilliant that the sun itself is your lesser. I don’t care what you’ve done, or what you will do. I don’t care if you’re failing to see the good in you, I see, it. I see it and it’s so bright it burns my eyes, but I don’t care. I don’t care because you are so unbelievably undeniably beautiful that I could look at you forever. That even if you are under great pressure, it is because you are a diamond, a diamond forged in the heart of your life. That somewhere out there is a person who would put the moon in a box and give it to you as a gift if they could. So you, you beautiful, shining star of a person, you continue to burn as bright as any in heaven here on earth. You are full of life, and love and wisdom and the things that make this world a joy to live in. You, young, or old, confused or resolved, in the dark or in the light. You are wonderful, and you bring joy to me and so many. Be it in a smile or wink, a whim or a dream. You are you, and you are special, precious and entirely, irreparably, unequivocally irreplaceable and don’t you dare forget it. Don’t you damn dare forget that.”
And just hug them, hug them and hold them close. This life is hard, and a little softness goes a long way.