It’s been so long, I can hardly remember what you are like. I can’t even remember the times when you were unnamed. But I’m writing you now, because I need better understanding to help people.
My relationship with you has been better and been worse throughout time. I remember being ashamed of a recording I found of myself from kindergarten saying how stupid I am (to myself). I itched my legs raw in childhood, and it was probably a manifestation of you. I remember middle and early high school being angry and crying all the time, having nice teachers look at me like, “What in the world is wrong?” Not in a judgy way, but genuinely concerned way. And I would think to myself, “I have NO IDEA.” It was you.
Objectively, those pre-adolescent and adolescent days were amazing, I wish I paid more attention to them, than I did to you. Trying to figure you out. Trying to make you go away. Not understanding how I could get along with so many people, live in some of the most amazing places, laugh, play, worship, but still feel you, and want to die.
Over time, with growth and maturity (and plenty of attention and help and, of course, figuring you out), I was ok with you. I was with you, because when bad things (or even just normal annoying things) happened, I needed to be with you, but I did not need to be with you forever. Depression, you made sense for various events in my life, even if my body and emotions were a little more sensitive, and I was sadder longer than I wanted to be. I stopped beating myself for being with you, and let you wash over me like a wave. Even if I felt it, I was never in danger of drowning. I was safe.
This is all retrospective though. You haven’t been at your strongest in over a decade, but Depression, I know that things can happen, and you will be there again.
That’s enough trip down memory lane, what I’m trying understand now is how to help others. You manifest so different in every person, and “feeling better” is also extremely different and objective for every person. Most kids and adults that I know who have a relationship with you fight you so hard. They want you to go away forever, or avoid you with busyness and/or dissociation, blame others, or are waiting for someone very specific to help them fight you.
It’s depressing (pun intended) to be away from you, trying to help people get away from you. It seems all they really need is for someone to simply hold them with you and remind them that it doesn’t have to be forever.
“This won’t be forever, and if it is forever, I’ll be here forever with you.”
Maybe that’s what you are, or could be, Depression, a warm blanket in the dark traumatic or annoying parts of our lives. I think many people think that you are the dark, but the dark is whatever has happened, and you are the warm blanket. Some of us stay under the blanket, too afraid to see if the light has returned or too afraid the dark will come again. We need help coming out, enjoying the light when it’s there.
No one wants to deal with you this way or be with you even when they need you. They want behavior modification. They want to do do do, or “Here’s this pill, it might work.” Medically, there’s this annoying thing that as long as a person is functioning, then you are not a problem. Depression, you are only a problem if we turn to self harm or self neglect or lack of productivity–which is pretty extreme–where a person literally can’t function for months at a time. Meanwhile, millions function with you, Depression, and still see you as a problem.
Even with this letter, I’m trying to find a way to grab a hold of you and throw you away, to save myself and others from a relationship with you. It’s like trying to save people from the inconvenience of breathing or eating or sleeping.
So, how do we get you to back off? I know that it’s possible. I know you’ve backed off quite a bit from me, but what about others?
Is it time? Is it busyness? Is it just replacement strategies? Is it a close social network, good family and friends? Is it self-awareness? Is it Jesus? Is it a lot of things or just a couple? Is it sudden or gradual? Can it be any, all, or combo? Why can’t you just make it easy?
Any insight would be helpful.
Read “A Letter From Depression” next.