Why Some People’s Minds Try to Kill Them

 

Today is a down day.

There are many factors at play here. Most  common for me, it seems, is always the weather. If it’s raining or overcast, it’s an automatic strike against my ability to simply do. There are other factors, as well- another rejection for the project I’m pitching. Worries over money and how I’ll manage to stay in the black once this freelance project ends. And, of course, the news that broke not twenty-four hours ago about the suicide of Robin Williams. This comes not long after a friend of mine took his own life this winter. His name was Justin Carmical, and he shot himself while locked in his bathroom. I haven’t really talked about it until now, because I didn’t know what to say.

I didn’t know Robin Williams. I venture a guess that most people who are writing think pieces about his suicide today didn’t know him. All the same, in the wake of a suicide people grasp for meaning, try to rationalize thing that was, in their mind, simply not possible. In the grand scheme of Suicides To Which I Have Borne Witness in 2014, I’ve heard many variations on the phrase “I didn’t see this coming” or “this was such a shock” or “I never expected this from them.”

To that, all I can say is, you clearly didn’t know them.

Often the rationale behind this is a variation on “he seemed so happy” or “he cared so deeply about people.” While these statements are fair as people begin to cope with the loss of a friend, to me it belies a serious misunderstanding of the suicidal mind.

Part of this cognitive dissonance springs from this common idea that suicide is a selfish act, and that only selfish and self-centered people commit suicide. How could one so funny and vivacious as Robin William do such a thing? How could one as caring and selfless as Justin Carmical do such a thing? But people assume that the depressed mind operates on the same logic as a healthy mind. It doesn’t. Not by a long shot.

It’s not that Justin wasn’t capable of taking his own life- obviously he was. Justin didn’t fit with people’s idea of suicidal. Neither did Robin Williams. The idea, however, is a caricature. A hard-drinking, Edgar Allen Poe-like waif who goes to slam poetry readings on the rare days he can force himself to get out of bed, perhaps, until the one day he can’t take it anymore. Or perhaps the stock broker that had only one thing to live for and then lost everything. A one note caricature that no person is, for we are all complex animals.

And thus, we see variations on the following:

“I didn’t see this coming.”

“Him, of all people, it doesn’t make sense!”

“I didn’t see the warning signs.”

Well, I may be stating the obvious, but that’s not exactly the sort of thing you put on a resumé.

Being suicidal is more than a crushing emotional burden- it’s fucking embarrassing. This is not true for all, but most people with mood disorders learn that there is no room in this world for their damage. It jeopardizes jobs, relationships, businesses, and most people tend not to understand your mindset. In the rare event that they do offer help, they offer bad help. Well-meaning but ignorant help. Help based on the idea that a depressed person is just a sad person who needs to stop being sad, and this is untrue. Dangerously untrue.

Everything in our society purports misunderstandings of the suicidal mind. Hell, even suicidal people don’t understand the suicidal mind. The suicidal mind is elusive, distant, alien. It snaps somewhere, stops being human, and stops recognizing other humans. You begin to exist in a fog, a world surrounded by zombies that wear expressions that no longer carry any meaning. You crave beauty, for you remember the concept, but you no longer take any joy in beauty or beautiful things. You can remember human logic, just enough to know that your brain is no longer operating on that system.

Depression causes the brain to operate on a different wavelength from just being “sad.” Your thinking changes, your perceptions of yourself, the world and your loved ones change. You no longer feel human. You no longer understand other humans. As a result not only do we, the depressed, not know how to handle it from the inside, but the people who populate our lives have difficulty coping. Everyone has their thresholds.

The following is observations in fragments, loosely connected and possibly nonsense. A peek inside of one experience, but by no means meant to encapsulate the whole human experience. My intent with this is not to take this tragedy and make it about me, nor to seek validation, nor to rationalize self-harming behavior, but to try to shed some insight on how the suicidal mind works based on my personal experience. It’s not that the people you know aren’t who you think they are – it’s that there’s a side of themselves that they hide from you. They have to. So my intent is to demystify it, perhaps, and shed some light onto the mechanics of it, the logic and the lack thereof. My intent is to portray to the reader what it’s like when your brain is actively trying to kill you.

 

 

“I don’t believe that about you”

 

I have an on-again-off-again superior at the company I on-again-off-again freelance for. He asked me how I was doing one day not long ago, and for some reason I felt like being honest. I told him I wasn’t doing well, that I was in a downward swing, and that I should probably see a therapist, maybe even go on medication again.

“Of course you’re fucked up,” he said in his affectionate, New York blue-collar manner of speaking, “You wouldn’t work here if you weren’t fucked up. We’re all fucked up! But you’re not like that. You’re not crazy.” This was his way of saying that I was in the club, not among the Other, the shrivelled, quivering, nebbish sorts that need to see therapists, pop antidepressants like Tic Tacs and cry all the time.

He laughed and dismissed my concerns, told me that I didn’t need to bother with that psycho mumbo-jumbo hoo-ha. This troubled me, because although this guy is prone to saying, shall we say, insensitive things from time to time (you get used to it), this was a person I liked and respected. I tried to explain that this is not a new thing for me, that I have had some intense emotional downswings in my life, and the one I experienced last year brought me closer to taking my own life than I ever had. “Why?” I don’t know, but this was only a couple of months before I started working at this company.

And then there was how he saw me when I started working there – casual, adaptable, able to “keep up with the boys” and seemingly thick-skinned. Something didn’t line up. No livejournal poetry, no constantly staring into the middle distance or whatever it is that people assume depressives do all day. I did not, and continue not to, appear “crazy.” He stopped dismissing it, realizing now that I was serious, but all he kept saying was, “No, I don’t believe that about you. That’s not you.

He seemed to have difficulty with the idea that people who struggle with depression turn “on” in public and at their jobs. They are conditioned to do this. They have to put on masks. The world has no room for people who wear their illness on their sleeve. And maybe there is a war being waged on the inside – some days are up days, some days are down days – but the rest of the world can’t know that. The rest of the world doesn’t understand that.

The rest of the world has no room for that.

 

 

My fish are dead.

Last year, Allie Brosch published her experience with depression on her blog, trying to relate to other people simply what the experience is like. I, well, I related to some of it, not all of it. My experience tended to be more Crushing Existential Misery than Gray Haze of Nothing (though the latter certainly took up its own share of time). Her “my fish are dead” analogy is, I think, intended to show how people suggest the wrong solution for a completely irrelevant problem, and that is fair. Think also of the metaphor of trying to run with a sprained ankle. You’re hobbling along, unable to keep up with everyone the way you used to, and everyone around you is telling you to run harder, or faster, or backwards, or it’s just got to learn to be an ankle again, or any measure of unhelpful advice suggesting that you power through it rather than address the problem.

Depression is a bit of a nebulous concept for something so common. Sometimes it applies to a one-off event, perhaps after the passing of a loved one or the loss of a job, sometimes it refers to a cyclical phenomenon with the individual going through phases of deep depression throughout their entire lives. Unfortunately I seem to occupy the latter flavor. Each time I pull myself out of a depression I always manage to delude myself that this was the last one. “That sucked!” I tell myself. “Good thing I’ll never have to deal with that again!”

But it always comes back.

Part of my problem was this assumption that I would grow out of it. Mature out of it, because suicidal ideation is the province of the immature, and I am too fucking old for this. As a result, rather than addressing the problem, I ignore it, convinced that I have reached some sort of maturity milestone. That I am now old enough, mature enough, to not have to deal with this shit.

This is all too often a fatal mistake.

The truth is, age does grind you down in many ways we don’t understand.

I saw a psychiatrist early in the year, and relayed this belief of mine that I was supposed to grow out of it. He told me to expect quite the opposite, in fact, depressive episodes “bloom into the DNA” of some people. That’s why mood disorders don’t set in until one’s twenties. That’s why older people, especially men, are at a higher risk of completing suicide. You don’t age out of suicidal ideation. There is no threshold that you reach, and then you’re safe. And if even Robin Williams, Oscar© winner, character actor and comedian beloved to millions was not safe, then who is?

 

 

 

That fateful day

 

“No Boys Allowed brunch”- that was how I phrased it. I’ve been rewriting a book to go on submission, and I’d been going a little stir crazy. I craved girly time. I wanted to get out, drink some mimosas, whine about writing and show off my spreadsheet I’d made to organize the rewrite. It was color-coded. I was proud of that spreadsheet. So I was out with the girls acting out an extremely poor man’s Queens version of Sex and the City when I heard about Justin.

Of course, I was shocked. But it took me all of about ten seconds, based on what I already knew about Justin, to know that it was true.

One of my girlfriends I was out with is also my neighbor, and her husband was at my place commiserating with Todd by the time that I got home. Todd was not quite drunk, though our neighbor was. He’d decided today he got a pass to self-medicate, and on the sixty dollar bottle of whiskey I’d brought him from Ireland, no less.“Writer’s Tears” brand whiskey. What better time to indulge in such a brand than now?

The method was by gun, which to me was the biggest shock. A gun is serious business. A gun is aiming for completion. But even more shocking the fact that he had a gun- why? Where did he get it? Had he bought it for this express purpose, or had he owned it?

If the latter, why? Why would Justin, knowing his own history with depression and suicidal ideation, keep a gun in his house? Were substances involved?

Speaking of substances, I whip out my own bottle of Writer’s Tears that I’d been saving for, well, a special occasion (this counts, right?). It’s here that I address the elephant in the room, that it could have been me. Justin’s death came only a few months after my last attempt.

My friend, by now quite tipsy, starts crying. He says he knows that, and it weighed on him, the fact that this happened to someone he knew, the fact that this could happen to me. The fact that sometimes those urges really do become too much for people, even people as sociable as Justin, is terrifying to him. He knew Justin, too. He’s more shocked by it than I am. But, he admits, he’s also afraid of losing me.

And though I don’t want to make this ordeal about me, I know everyone in the room is thinking it. People who make attempts are more likely to complete down the line.

I knew that about Justin. Knew this completed suicide wasn’t his first attempt. But even so, when people tell you, “I’m better now,” of course your instinct is to believe them. Your inclination is to assume that they will never be that bad again.

That inclination is almost always false.

Justin had left a suicide note on Foursquare, of all places. I didn’t get the alert since I only get alerts for my local friends, and Justin was in Colorado Springs, but I scrolled down to the fateful date, and there it was. He’d checked in at his house with only the words, “Goodbye. I love you all.”

Upon reading this, I realized that this wasn’t some spur of the moment thing. He was set on it. He had planned it.

Then, right on cue, as though we were living in a bad student film, snow started to fall.

Why do we suffer?

Last year, I was really low. Lower than I ever remember being before. I travelled for the express purpose of trying to expose myself to beauty, only to find I don’t remember why humans crave beauty in the first place. Then plans started popping into my head. I started dwelling on them for days. Then weeks. New York City sure does have an awful lot of bridges, I thought. And one of them is walking distance from my apartment.

And people ask me, what happened to make you like this? What changed?

And I answer honestly, nothing happened. Nothing changed. It just sprouted in me, like kudzu, and then left untended it got out of hand.

This is a question I wrestle with often- why does nature select for depression? We always try to find some meaning in it. We have to, to rationalize it, to justify it, to find some way not to be bitterly jealous of the seemingly happy people who bounce about life with confidence, with purpose, with whatever juice it is that keeps them going. Without the abundance of hairline fractures crippling their basic ability to function as a “normal” person, day after day.

No beautiful suffering for them.

It’s almost like an abusive relationship. Miserable but familiar, and acting to change your circumstances seems almost impossible. The excuses you make become normal, the detachment from others becomes comfortable, and you just stop caring. That doesn’t mean you stop hurting though, and when you finally reach the bottom of the well, the idea that keeping on keeping on just isn’t worth the effort starts to make more and more sense.

And you find your thoughts are occupied more and more with that suspension bridge down the street.

Some depressives have ways of rationalizing these things to themselves. The Lars Von Triers of the world romanticize it, which in my mind is its own form of stigmatization. Love your suffering! It’s part of what makes you you. If you didn’t suffer then you couldn’t art, therefore your suffering makes you a special snowflake.

Others try to logic you out of your sadness, which believe me is the surest path to failure and frustration (a depressive mood disorder is nothing if not illogical). Others still try to reassure you that, hey, you wouldn’t have that brilliant shining star of a creative mind without that burdensome depression-monkey on your back. And maybe that’s true, but when you are in the deepest throes of a depressive cycle, it hardly seems worth it. Wouldn’t it be nicer to just be normal?

And then, when you trouble yourself to look at the people in the world, you just don’t understand what keeps them going. Why in God’s name do they want to keep on living? Don’t they realize how shitty their lives are? How pointless it all is?

Thing is, when depressives are relaying these shitty thoughts to you, they aren’t doing it to bring you down, too.  They aren’t even begging for attention. They’re asking for help.

 

 

Words Are Blunt Force Objects

I cannot stress this point enough, when you are trying to help a depressed or suicidal person: intent does not matter.

Sort of like when Liz Lemon was making her list of pros and cons as to whether or not Dennis was worth keeping around as her boyfriend, the depressed mind is constantly looking for pros and cons as to whether life is worth living, and the depressed mind has a tremendous confirmation bias. So what you mean to say is irrelevant in the face of what a depressive actually hears. While it might be cultural conditioning telling you that this is the right thing to say, saying “I’m really worried about you,” depending on the level of depression, can be a no good, very bad thing to say to someone.

An even more important point to stress is this: you cannot use logic against depression.

Seriously, your impulse to try to get someone to see things from your point of view? The point of view where your friend actually has it pretty good, so why be sad? Deny that impulse. Push through it. Your good logic-rooted intentions will come across as condescending at best, and actively compound the problem at worst. We know we’re not being rational. We know.

The best way to describe the suicidal mind is like a case of someone with the most mind-bogglingly rigid case of confirmation bias ever. Everything is twisted into evidence against one’s continued existence. You know how conspiracy theorists take everything and twist it into their bizarre narrative of how they see the world? Like one day Obama’s skin looked a little dry, therefore he is clearly one of the Lizard People? That sort of thing. The suicidal brain takes all stimulus, relevant to the brain-owner or not, and twists all things into evidence of why life is probably not worth living.

This is where the alien brain comes in – the distant, wheezing human brain might be eavesdropping, and indicating what one should be interpreting based on the stimulus it is receiving. But the thing is, what someone means to say to a depressed person, and what the depressed listener hears can be two very different things.

What you say is, “I want you to get better.”

What they hear is, “You are a burden on me.”

This immediately translates into the life-cons pile. “I am a burden on people.”

When the immediate, seemingly obvious response comes: “But think of how it would hurt people if you were to harm yourself.”

What message comes but the obvious? Again: “My mere existence is a burden.”

On a high-functioning day, it comes in the form of. “They’ll get over it. They think I’m selfish- how fucking selfish are they for making it about them? Sooner or later, they’ll realize this was all for the best.”

Statement: “Is there any medication you can take?”

Translation: “You are fundamentally flawed human being and I have way unrealistic expectations about magic happy pills.”

Medication can soften your edges, stabilize your moods, but it cannot fundamentally cure you.

Statement: “Glad I’ve never had to deal with that!”

Translation: “I am unbearable shitlord.”

Nevermind not saying that, don’t even think that, you prick so unburdened of empathy. Christ.

And for the love of God, should you be dealing with a woman, do not ever, ever say some variation on the following:

“But you’re so pretty! What do you have to be sad about?”

Ah, yes, I am naught but an object that exists for your visual gratification and I have done my job. Why be sad?

I usually hear that one from older men, but it bears repeating: don’t say this. Never, ever say this.

Statement: Do you not see how much this is hurting me/your family/others/thing?”

Translation: “Your existence is actively harmful to me.”

This may seem obvious, and I’ve had people say this thing out loud in a sort of panic, but for the love of God if you are genuinely concerned about your loved one, stop yourself before saying this. This ranks pretty high on the list of well meaning worst things you can say.

Statement: “We need to get you better, and keep you that way.” or “Let’s hope that this never happens again.”

Translation: “We need to get you better, and keep you that way.” or “Let’s hope that this never happens again.”

Well gee, no pressure then, fuckstick. Not like this is a disincentive to be honest about one’s mental state in the probable event that it does happen again.

Honestly, that last one is the most dangerous, because not only does it show the most dangerous misunderstanding of depression, it’s the sort of reinforcement of societal norms that keeps people from seeking treatment in the first place.

But the most dangerous aspect of this misunderstanding is simply this- that depression can be cured.

One may go a month, a year, ten years, twenty years without a major depressive episode, but it is always a part of you.

Depression is like cancer; it does not get cured, it only goes into remission.

And if the reader interprets this as, “What, I’m just supposed to… accept depression as a part of my loved one that will never, ever really be banished?” Well… yeah. You don’t expect Type 1 Diabetics to get cured despite diet and exercise, so why would you expect the same from a depressive despite the fact that they lost weight and got a promotion? It is like chronic pain. It is something you live with your entire life, it is woven into the very fabric of your being. Some days will be good, some days will be bad.

You really want to help your loved one in the long run? Accept this.

Well, what do I say, then?

Well, my friend, that may be the wrong question. The most important step is not to make it about you.

Not all depressions are created equal, and different people have different needs. In general, however, the confirmation bias part of the brain is not the only part of the brain that longs to be sated. The depressed individual does long for evidence to the contrary. They do want to be listened to. They do want to believe they have value. They do want to believe that they are loved.

What they don’t want is to have their feelings negated with shallow, condescending suggestions that don’t address the problem. They don’t want to be belittled. Hell, they probably don’t want your goddamn advice. Because your goddamn advice is probably horrible.

And another difficult issue – not all depressives are willing to seek the help that they need. Many times have I avoided it simply out of the hope that I’d get over it on my own, when deep down, really, I know what I need to do, and what I need to do is not power through this episode while crying manly tears. But I have seen other people do the most extraordinary mental backbends to avoid responsibility for their own circumstance, to avoid even the possibility of seeking treatment (I knew one that blamed Obama, saying if she took even the mildest of anti-depressants her mother would lose the license to operate her gun range in California. No, really. No. Really).

And the problem with trying to encourage a friend or loved one to get help can walk a fine line of reading as “I don’t want to deal with you – I want to shove you on someone else.” It’s a difficult line to tread. Only you can judge where that line is.

Inevitably, you will fail them. You will make the situation about you. You will say something about them that fuels their already self-sustaining vortex of self-loathing. You’re walking in a minefield, and you will make mistakes. Forgive yourself, and move on.

And there is of course the possibility that they are beyond your help. Perhaps you are doing each other more harm than good, or perhaps (like our aforementioned Prozac-will-take-mom’s-guns-away example) they are simply unwilling to admit that their mental problems are actively harming others and that they need to seek treatment. There may come a point where you must admit that you cannot help this person, because this person does not want to be helped. Many, many depressives are not honest with themselves about their own state, and it is not your responsibility to change that. It may be in everyone’s best interest to walk away.

With that comes the possibility that they may harm themselves. You can try to help them, but you can’t always stop them. At the end of the day, it boils down to what you can live with.

 

 

 

My fish are still dead

 

I cannot do. For some people, depression robs you of your ability to do. I can barely get up the energy to do more than get up and go to work (at 2:00 PM, on a good day), eat ice cream and drink beer. A good day is one where I don’t drink alone. I try not to take more than half a Xanax per day. I don’t want to get addicted to Xanax again. I don’t want to drink myself to sleep every night. But I cannot do.

I was flying with productivity six months ago. Now I can’t even cobble together an idea for a review. Not even a review.

It is beyond frustrating to the depressed individual- why can’t I do the things I was able to do six months ago? This used to come easily to me, now it is like pulling teeth- why can I not do this thing I used to be able to do with such ease?

And the answer is simple: your brain chemistry is not the same as it was six months ago. Asking that question is like asking “Why can I not run this marathon like I could six months ago?” while hobbling along with a sprained ankle. Obviously, you cannot run that marathon, because you are injured.

But the answer is not so obvious with depression.

In the case of depression, the first step to recovery is to understand that you cannot treat your brain as though it is functioning normally. You cannot force yourself to do things that are overwhelming to you in the hopes you’ll snap out of it; you will only become more overwhelmed and dig deeper. You cannot talk yourself into the idea that doing should be easy, because it used to come naturally to you; you will only abuse yourself more.

In many ways depression is like addiction, in that the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. The difference here is that it doesn’t mean you ever stop beating yourself up for being, well, sick. Depression is a mood disorder. It is an evolutionary fuckup in the chemicals and hormones in your brain. It is a disease, much in the way addiction is a disease, but since you spend most of your time thinking like a normal, relatively healthy person, you attack the problem like it is an invading infection to be driven out.

It is corrosive, acidic, it sneaks up on you, and often times you find that your foundations have been eroded away before you even realized there was a serious problem. And there you are, unable to do, forced to admit to yourself your own responsibility, that you must get up and do or be trapped in this cycle for who knows how long. Perhaps this cycle will be the one that does you in.

And once again, you are reminded that it is not a thing that is cured, it goes into remission, and the only thing you, your friends and family can do is maintain constant vigilance. Constant vigilance…

 

  • Jake

    Well, I feel like shit :/

    Thanks for being honest, though. I honestly had no idea this affected you. I realize this might come off as disingenuous, but you honestly are one of the most entertaining and insightful critics I’ve come across. Always try to feel better.

    • Sheesh

      Just a heads-up that “always try to feel better” is the kind of advice she asked people not to give. Trust me, we already are. 😉

      • Jake

        I apologize for the wording of that.

        • PinkyAndNoBrain

          It’s really hard to know the right thing to say, and platitudes like that can come out without thinking (I do it way more often than I’d like to admit). Thank you for your willingness to be open and apologize for your mistakes; that means a lot.

  • Heather V

    Thank you.

  • Danny Lopez

    What’s next your gonna write about what I (and still gonna) do to you? This is the only place where you can’t block me. You blocked me on everything. Nella blocked me on vine thanks to you. I’m still gonna rape you anyway.

    • Jake

      Go fuck yourself. Go fuck yourself so hard.

      • Danny Lopez

        I’m gonna fuck Lindsay so hard not myself.

  • Yes. Thank you, Lindsay.

  • Brad Millette

    Thank you for posting this.

  • TheBrett

    Thank you for this. You’re an awesome critic, and your reviews and commentary have changed the way I’ve seen things for the better.

  • Sand

    Thank you. You put this to words better than I ever could have.

  • Angela Rajic

    Yes, thank you for this. I know this probably sounds empty coming from a faceless stranger, But I hope you get through thus bout of depression okay.

  • Thank you. Thank you so much for this.

  • This is one of the most frank accounts of dealing with depression that I’ve seen, it’s frighteningly accurate and needed to be said. I’m sorry you’re in this bout but please know that I highly respect you and thank you for creating all the content that you have.

  • Honestly, thank you for talking about the productivity side of it. Because I have a full-time job and I do several projects in my spare time and I beat myself up so bad when I barely have the strength to go to the job I have to go to in order to survive. And then when I get home I’m so emotionally drained from being “on” the whole day and I’m so fucking sad that I don’t want to do anything and then I just feel so damn guilty. I have to force myself to not beat myself up for not writing every waking moment and yes, not getting every project done when I’m doing so fucking much already. So really, REALLY, thank you for talking about that part of it. I really admire the work you do and it helps a lot to hear another person (especially another woman) talk about it.

    Also the whole “your intent is irrelevant” thing is spot-on. I have parents who love me but are really bad about what they say. They do try to give me advice when all I want is to have them listen. Like, they can’t stop themselves from going beyond “I’m sorry, honey.” and telling me how I should do this or that (as if I haven’t tried). For a long time my dad would ask how I was doing and I’d say, “I’m really stressed and anxious” and he’d reply like clockwork with “What do YOU have to be stressed about?” And then I would think of his super stressful job and how of course, I must be selfish for thinking I was REALLY stressed out. And then I had a mother that when she found out how often I was going to therapy, said, “Well, why don’t you just pray for it to get better.” I almost threw the phone I was so mad.

    • dasd

      I totally understand what you are saying in both paragraphs, but especially about your parents. While depression and anxiety run in my family I was the only one who dealt with it at a young age. While my parents were more supportive than most (taking me to therapy and doctors), I heard the phrase ‘It’s all in your head’ way too many times when they got tired of dealing with my moods. It wasn’t until my parents started developing depression in their fifties that they realized what it was. I still remember after my mom went through menopause which caused her hormones and chemistry to go out of control. She looked at me and told me ‘is this what you’ve felt like since you were little? I am so sorry.’ While I hated to hear my mom was suffering too, part of me felt so good to hear that and also to have someone to be able to talk to about it with, but it also made me realize how hard it is for people without mental illness to understand. People that love you are trying to help but they don’t know how and many times, they end up doing more harm than good.

      I always appreciate when depressives share their personal stories. It helps me to know I’m not alone, but it also helps those who don’t have depression better understand how they can help.

      • Is it weird that I’ve been on and off suicidal for over a decade and yet the thing that often stops me is that everyone will hate me for being selfish and hurting them with my death. And yeah, that stops me but it doesn’t exactly help the guilt.

        • dasd

          Both those reasons I’ve used for myself in the past. I think the biggest hurdle for me is convincing myself of my own self worth. Convincing myself that it’s alright to be selfish. It’s never going to work if I’m simply living for other people because those feelings, guilt, and thoughts are still there. I have never been closer to suicide than I was during this past winter on the east coast. While I was also struggling with relationships and work, the biggest thing was the weather. I remember going out one night, telling my parents I was getting dinner, and debating just driving into a tree. I eventually stopped in some random parking lot and went through some screaming, praying, crying, to sitting in complete silence, until finally I decided that I still had a lot I wanted to do and I didn’t want to die yet.

          Two biggest things I decided was that I was living because I wanted to, not for anyone else, and also to go someplace where my biggest trigger, cold weather, was not as bad. So that has helped me, but obviously my depression is not going away. I still find days fighting to get out of bed or asking myself what the point is anymore. It’s just something we have to figure out how to live with unfortunately.

          • It’s hard for me because (and I mentioned this on twitter last night) that my worst nights in the last year have been on good days. But I’ll be at work and working really hard and completely full of energy only to get home and have the physical exhaustion trigger the depression. I mean, often something else will be a factor, like getting bad news or saying something wrong and then beating myself up about it, but sometimes it really is just coming home and being emotionally drained and not being able to do anything else, even though all the other projects I want to do (and people expect me to do) are still there needing to get done. And then on top of that I’m a really messy person with a guilt complex thanks to living with a neat freak mother for 20 years so not being able to keep up with housework just adds to everything. I will say having a partner who can at least bring some perspective even when he can’t completely understand what I’m going through helps.

      • TheWynne

        I sent my mom the Allie Brosh “Adventures in Depression” articles right after the second one came out, and all she could say was, “Is that what you were dealing with that whole time? I knew it was bad and I knew you were hurting, but I didn’t KNOW.” And she was really good about dealing with it at the time! She never told me to just get over it or anything, she knew it was a disease with physical (if invisible) symptoms, but she didn’t really understand what it meant from the inside. It’s hard. Even I have a hard time remembering if I haven’t had an episode for a while.

    • G.S.

      “Also the whole “your intent is irrelevant” thing is spot-on. I have parents who love me but are really bad about what they say. They do try to give me advice when all I want is to have them listen. Like, they can’t stop themselves from going beyond “I’m sorry, honey.” and telling me how I should do this or that (as if I haven’t tried).”

      “And then I had a mother that when she found out how often I was going to therapy, said, “Well, why don’t you just pray for it to get better.” I almost threw the phone I was so mad.”

      This. So much this. I’m not professionally diagnosed yet, but ever since the last week of June and all through July I’ve been focusing on this idea that I’m a horrible, worthless person and will go to Hell when I die (I read some scriptures that really freaked me out), as well as having fantasies of slitting my throat in the bathroom and bashing my head against things, but it wasn’t until I thought, “wouldn’t it be a good idea to throw myself under that van/bus?” that I realized I needed help (I called my mom, and she came to pick me up since I had 2 weeks of summer break). I was living with my aunt at the time, and I was scared to let her know what it was that was having me lock myself upstairs and cry, and as far as she’s concerned, I’m just letting her think that I was cracking under pressure from starting college (it was my first month in a private career school, that I’ve unfortunately had to drop out of). I didn’t tell her what was really going on because a) when I would say that I was having a panic attack or that I was overwhelmed about something, she’d tell me that I needed to get my head together and get through it (and she thinks that yelling at me more will “toughen me up” and will desensitize me to it so I won’t cry when I’m yelled at anymore), and b) she’s super into religion and if I say, “I’m scared that I’m going to hell,” I’m scared that she’d say, “WELL, IF YOU’RE SCARED THAT YOUR GOING TO HELL, THEN THAT MEANS THAT YOU ARE GOING TO HELL, SO READ YOUR SCRIPTURES AND PRAY SOME MORE! THE MAMBY-PAMBY WORLD MIGHT WANT TO TELL YOU THAT THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES, BUT THERE ARE!” (And she HAS told me the last part the last time I brought up a question about God.)

      And then when I went up with my mom, we were both under the idea that my aunt would let me come back to finish school, but then she sent an e-mail to my mom saying that it sucks that I can’t come back to her place and that I belong 6 hours away with my mom. And yes, the best place for me right now IS with my mom (she’s been bi-polar for 30 years, and knows all the ropes on what to do), but the fact that she cut me out like I was six-years-old really fucking stung. I felt like I was being abandoned and that she didn’t give a fuck about me since my presence would apparently fuck up her life since she “couldn’t handle me” (the plan was: go home to get help and get stable, then go back to aunt’s to finish college), She later called to apologize about how she kept me out of the loop, but she won’t let me move back into her house possibly ever again, so I still don’t want to talk to her yet. I know logically that she isn’t emotionally able to be my main support (she knows it, I know it, it’s just the way she is), and that she has her own mental hurting to deal with (and a valid, understandable reason as to why living with someone being treated for depression freaks her right the fuck out, and my 11-year-old cousin has the same kind of mindset), and yes, I AM where I need to be right now, but it really sucks to be treated/thought of like an idiot fuck-up who’ll eat your baby cousins and burn down the house, or something.

      My dad doesn’t quite understand mental illness either (when he heard about Robin Williams, he was all, “I don’t get it. What did he have to be depressed about?”), but he knows to just give me a lot of hugs and lets me know that he’s there for me and loves me, which is really all I need from people right now.

      I am doing better, though. I’ve been taking 20 mg of Celexa every night for the past week which has taken off A LOT of the suicidal/self-harming edge (although they knocked me flat on my ass for three days, that was fun). I still get anxious, and the “going to hell” thoughts haven’t left yet, but I’m able to not let the thoughts consume me as much as before (seriously, writing up assignments was almost impossible for me beforehand, I was that freaked out). Seriously, I’m going to write the manufactures of those pills a rather heartfelt, gushing thank you letter in appreciation.

      • PinkyAndNoBrain

        I know this was posted a while ago, but I relate to so much of what you and JustPlainSomething said (though 150 mg of Effexor is my dope of choice) that I have to comment. The thing that I really wanted to respond to, but am uncomfortable to because OMG RELIGUN, is the stuff about God, because I’m a Christian too—well, I’m assuming you’re a Xtian. You might not be.

        Don’t listen to your aunt; she’s a psycho. Depression is a disease, like Lindsay said, and there’s NOTHING wrong with you for not being able to shake it. Praying can help (well, it can’t hurt), but God made doctors and medicine and therapists, too; prayers aren’t always answered directly in the form of magic fairy-dust, and anyone who tells you that meds and therapy aren’t answers to prayers can just fuck right off.

        I’m just gonna chuck a couple (literally) links down here, because my personal depression is the type that craves and is temporarily sated by testimonies. I’ve found them extremely helpful:

        1. “It Can’t Be Depression…I’m a Christian”: https://www.gci.org/CO/depression
        2. “5 Things Christians Should Know About Depression and Anxiety”: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/5-things-christians-should-know-about-depression-and-anxiety

        Message me (is that possible with Disqus?) if you want to chat more, but know that you’re not alone, you’re not bad, and you’re not forgotten. Sending love and prayers. <3

  • Kathryn Ricks

    May this cycle not be the one that does you in. And may you always have considerate friends to provide wine/guilty pleasure movies in times of need. My heart is with you hon.

  • Jorge O. Ulises (Imanoth – H.T

    I cannot thank you. This wasn’t meant for someone like me, it’s for people that doesn’t go through it. (I’m not very good at English, as you may have noticed in some annoying tweet I sent your way or something, I do that, sorry. I mean being annoying… It’s not on purpose).

    God, this is going to take me so much time to write.

    Read this hurt me (I can’t even imagine, how it may hurt you if you read it when you’re more or less OK) is too accurate. You know how “reality” hits when you have been trying to avoid it (In my case with the internet, yes I resort to fanfic, cat videos, or *online reviews* to forget how shitty I am, I’m not even going to mention on how many levels) It’s like someone throw you a bucket of water when you were surrounded by lighting bugs… the extra weight of the water… the sudden embarrassment and sad clarity of vision

    That’s why I cannot thank you, again this is not good for me, but It’s great for other people. So.. Good Job!

    I noticed you were troubled sometimes, reading you, I didn’t say anything. I’m a fan not a friend (I let you in my life, but not the other way around, I tend to forget and be annoying about it, but I’m a stranger to you after all) also I though it may be that creatives where like this sometimes…
    I remember being upset when JewWario did it (as I was upset yesterday). Still a stranger to both of them thinking “but they had more, they had family too… but they also had people that chose them!” right? (I feel bad because I’m selfish that way, but it’s how I react: sad and upset).
    I remember what you did later that month (January) you cracked a joke because someone told your followers were robots and you favorited our answers, most of them! I knew why you did it! I noticed.
    I still liked it and appreciated it.

    I don’t even need you to make a review, read you does it too, althought I don’t always agree. Be there! You may be depressed but your also an anti-depressant or at best a distraction.
    You may be able to lift Mjolnir.

    Is there a purpose for a consumer like me? There is! right? There’s always a purpose for everyone. I NEED to believe that or I’m on the verge too.
    We are all worthy.

    Imanoth (which means H. Tonami) —
    Jorge O. Ulises (another pseudonym)
    Tony Ignatius Reilly (yet another pseudonym)
    Real name is Antonio I.

    PS.: Bad english… been 30 mins thinking If I should post it. I’m posting it… ignore if it’s too pathetic

  • De

    I guess the thing to keep in mind is that you’re not “supposed” to be happy, not really. Everyone’s body is different. There’s no grading sheet for what you’re supposed to be doing or feeling or earning at any given stage in your life. Some people might perceive that there is but that’s BS. Whatever you feel right now is what you feel and that doesn’t make you a bad person.

  • Brian Arkle Webber

    So true about the weather affecting the ability to function. Though for me it’s the opposite case. It’s heat where I can’t do. I actually prefer clouds (largely because they mean I can go outside and see without squinting; I’m very light-sensitive), and I love rain and snow (well, from indoors, less so when I’m outside unless I have an umbrella and thick jacket).

    So naturally life has put me in a position where I have to live someplace that’s warm most of the time anyway, and it’s been considered too hot even by their standards for the past few years.

    It seems like such a small thing but I just know I’d be happier if I could just get out of California. I might need medication too, I don’t know, but with daily temps of over 990 degrees in the shade, I lack the will to even find out if that’s my problem.

    • Interesting. I’m from Colorado where it was winter for 75% of the year, and recently they’ve been dealing with heavy rain on top of it. I hated all the snow after a while, moving out to California has made me happier as far as the weather goes but I didn’t grow up here and I think that has something to do with it.

      • Brian Arkle Webber

        I lived in Colorado for 21 years, you’re exaggerating somewhat. As for California, I was actually born here. Lived here ’til I was 9, and had to come back after I lost my job and my apartment to live with my grandmother.

  • Jas

    First off Lindsay, almost everything you said in this post I’m pretty sure is the first time I’ve heard an opinion on depression nailed. Almost that is, except for one thing. You brought something unignorably politics-related into it towards the end (you did bring stuff politics-related earlier, just that once it was conclusive). I’m not saying you should change your political stance, it’s just that you make it clear that saying the wrong thing despite intention can set off the thought that you’re against the depressive. That political comment has the potential to make some readers think you’re against them, and BAM! you’ve just gotten those readers closer to suicide. Since it was just once and I know you’re not that stiff a person, you should have not let politics enter this post. It’s not a vitally important part of this subject.

    • Lindsay

      I’m not sure I understand. You’re saying that “intent does not matter” is a political statement?

      • Jas

        Damn it! Bad wording, Lindsay, I apologize. The politics-related thing you said that I’m referring to, is your statement on the woman you knew who wouldn’t take meds because of Obama, and that it was doing harm to other people. “(I knew one that blamed Obama, saying if she took even the mildest of anti-depressants her mother would lose the license to operate her gun range in California …perhaps (like our aforementioned Prozac-will-take-mom’s-guns-away example) they are simply unwilling to admit that their mental problems are actively harming others and that they need to seek treatment.” It might be misinterpreted that you’re saying, if you think negatively at all of Obama, it’s hurtful to others.

        • Lindsay

          I was saying she was deflecting her responsibility because of some non-existent law that Obama put into place (even if he wanted to, he couldn’t- gun laws are legislated by states). It has nothing at all to do with Obama – the point is about the deflection of responsibility. That is a politically neutral statement. I looked back over it and I think my wording is pretty clear. If people misread it, I can’t really help that.

          • Jas

            Exactly my thought at first, she was just hurting herself because of something Obama couldn’t do. What did you mean then when you wrote “…actively harming others…” in relation to her problem? Or could you have applied her problem to any of the reasons you listed why a person might be in the situation where they shouldn’t say anything to the depressive, but decided to apply it to the last one to make the sentence sound more dramatic (have nothing against that, I just get jumpy at politics in what I read sometimes)?

    • Sock Puppet

      All she did was mention the Obama paranoia voiced by her depressed friend. That’s too much “politics”? Ridiculous.

  • Jack F.

    Lindsay, let me just say that this is absolutely beautiful. This is honestly one of the most incredible things I’ve ever read about depression. I spent some time, probably medically depressed. Never diagnosed, though. And I have to admit, I’m probably one of the lucky ones out there who was able to drive my depression under through just sheer force of will. I woke up one day, feeling bummed, just, as I believe you said, “in a gray haze” and just said to myself “fuck this”. By the end of the day, I’d somehow managed to mostly make myself feel a bit better. By the end of the week, I’d made plans with some people, and had nothing going on out of the ordinary- but I was in a good place. A much, much better place.

    I count myself as a success story among a lot of poor outcomes. Depression isn’t something you can “beat”. But it is something you can fight. And its a fight worth having.

  • Stonecold

    there is so much truth in here. a thank you might sound empty coming from someone you don’t know, but I say it anyway, Thank You. I hope you get through it ok.

  • Guest

    I hit a very low point this past year, lower than I’d ever been since high school, and honestly one thing that helped the most was remembering a friend who’s said I could call her any time and she’d listen. Any time, for anything, and she’d never judge. It’s 3 AM, she lives all the way across the country, I’m trying to cry quietly so I don’t wake my roommate up, and I remember that she’d be okay with me calling her up in the middle of the night just because.

    And I think it helped because, like you said, the depressed brain makes you beat yourself up. It makes you think of everything you’ve ever said or done and twist it into “God, aren’t you such a terrible little undeserving shit,” like a mental version of “STOP HITTING YOURSELF.” And my brain was fucking with me, over and over, but knowing that there was someone who would just listen and not presume helped, because it was basically a license to dump all my depression on someone with out worrying about whether or not that would drag down their day. She’d let me be depressed, you know? Even my depressed mindfuck of a self-abusive brain couldn’t twist that into a bad thing, and I just kind of held onto that thought until things got a little better and I could be semi-functional again. I didn’t even call her in the end, I just realized that it was a viable option.

    And I don’t want to make it sound like there’s a “quick fix” or a silver bullet phrase you can use or anything like that, because that’s bullshit (even in this instance, I called my parents the next night and got actual help, my friend’s offer was just a life preserver I held onto while waiting for the Carpathia), but it ~felt~ like the opposite of “how can I help you get better now (because your depression makes me uncomfortable).” It was just an “I accept you even when you’re shitty, I won’t try to make you feel better, just let me know what’s up.” And obviously there isn’t an “answer” or anything like that, I just wish people were more willing to say that and mean it, myself included.

  • salvadorali

    Are there any resources gor help without money or insurance? Ive been suicidal since at least my early teens and suffered extreme spells of depression since as far back as I can remember. Been putting off treatment in hopes I could rise above on my own. Now unemployed and down to my last two dollars (litrally) ive hit the wall and know I need help. But what to do? No money at all means no treatment….what can I do?

    • Ronka

      The national suicide prevention hotline is toll free, 1-800-273-TALK. It’s not just for emergency situations– “Anyone who is depressed, going through a hard time, needs to talk, or is thinking about suicide can use the chat.” They patch you into local-ish people who should also know about potentially helpful programs available in your location.

    • Lindsay

      Eesh, it is really, really hard and it depends on where you live. Here in NYC we have free and low cost mental health clinics. They’re a pain and they make you wait, but they are an option. My best advice is to google “low cost mental health” + your area. Planned Parenthood is also an option to get prescription meds (they do sliding scale, and have helped me many times, though you need to find one that does general practitioning). Generic antidepressants are pretty cheap, but getting the prescription can be difficult if you can’t afford a doctor.

      But I’m glad that you recognize the need for help (for me, that was always the hardest part, especially when I was uninsured). Unfortunately when you’re low income you have to work harder for help, but it IS there, so be prepared to do a little digging. At direst need, there are many crisis networks and suicide hotlines that can help you through darkest times and give advice at no cost. Keep your head above water, you’re not alone!

  • Tom

    Thank you for writing this.

    • Tom

      >Statement: “Glad I’ve never had to deal with that!”

      I’ve said this countless times to people with PTSD, thinking it was the most understanding and empathetic thing I could say. Whoops.

  • Brad M

    I understand what you wrote and see some of the horrible comments that really make you cringe. Opening yourself up is not easy. During the tough times I had help from my munchkin cat. Here is a pic He always brought a smile to my face I hope he does the same for you.

  • Celinia

    This is one of the best articulated descriptions of depression I’ve ever read. Thank you, thank you so much for putting into words what has been impossible for me to say for months. It is always a relief when I read something and know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Thank you.

  • Lauren

    Thanks, Lindsay. This is a rare, honest look into the depressed mind. I see a lot of articles that look at depression objectively or “survival stories”, but I never see well written, thoroughly considered pieces about being smack dab in the middle of it. This piece hit home a lot for me. I’m not even in depressed mode this month and I still teared up a few times.
    But I’m glad you wrote it. I think it’s a great tool to have on hand for family or friends who don’t understand. And even for myself and others who struggle with depression/anxiety disorders. I’ve used some of the terrible advice you mentioned when I should have known better.
    I try not to get too annoyed with people who want to help though. My mother gets a bit irritated and tells me to stop “drowning in the abyss” and my dad was convinced for quite some time that some secret man had broken my heart (he’s gotten wiser), but I know they mean well. Not so favored are the friends I’ve lost/dumped because they said I was “being too quiet” or “ruining the fun” during episodes.
    If I can say one thing about this shitty disorder, it helps you figure out who your real friends are.
    Thanks again. I’m sorry you’re down, but at least to me, it feels good to know that we aren’t alone in feeling this way. I hope you continue to acquire tools to help you cope. I’ve picked up quite a few over the last decade, though there seem to be more for anxiety than depression… It’s a struggle, but when I’m “up”, I think it’s all worth it.

  • GHOSTWRITTA word

    Thank you

  • Knife Ink

    When I was in middle school, I had a friend that was the jolliest, most carefree person you’d ever meet. She laughed and smiled all the time. It was fun making her laugh. Then when we got to high school, she seemed to change completely. She hardly ever laughed or smiled, was frequently morose, and could be mean and bitter. She also had sleeping issues and anger management problems. We all thought it was just a phase – after all, adolescence is a difficult time for many teenagers – but what we didn’t understand was that it ran deeper than teenage hormones. Later, she was diagnosed with depression and BPD. We didn’t know what to do. She was so hard to be around, so difficult to talk to. Even the adults seemed clueless. We were in high school, after all – we didn’t know how to talk to people and most of us probably still don’t. I feel like your post would have pointed us in the right direction, as I’m sure it will for many people today. Thank you so much for your words.

  • Well said, Lindsay.

  • Mary Cieslak

    Thank you, Lindsay. I work at a broadcast tv news station, and monitoring the Robin Williams press conference made me sick to my stomach in ways that I didn’t feel I could express to my boss today. I’ve been in denial for so, so long lately, and this article was a good wake up. So thank you.

  • Gorgon Zola

    I’m actually guilty of saying “it’s a selfish act” to a friend who I knew had mood swings and was emotional. I was trying to help. It was not even directed towards him but on a discussion of someone’s suicide you get into with close friends. He had his love life and academics destruct, and his job search was going no where – a few months later he attempted suicide by drinking some chemicals. In fact he called me, and I knew something was wrong. I think he had sort of changed his mind after the attempt. Thankfully he recovered. But it affected me deeply. My life wasn’t going well either. I had chronic back pain enough that I couldn’t walk without screaming, I had dropped out of grad school because I had lost interest in a subject I had loved since childhood, had been dumped by my girlfriend after I told her I loved her – you think I wasn’t suicidal?

    The “it’s a selfish act” thought is one of the things that saves me. It helps me to this day, every day. I think of the misery, and the effort, and the money, my parents put in. They went through all that, I’m not going to throw it away. I’ll suffer for them. I understand this may not work for those without parents. But then endure for your friends. If you don’t have friends, like I don’t, then find somebody or something to live for. Perhaps your future audience – that child who needs your words. Poverty striken children always gets me. Some days, I get out of bed just for them. or for anyone suffering greater misfortunes than me. Bottom line it shames me, then somehow saves me. I survive and do my duties for them. It’s why I say suicide is a selfish act to others. And maybe it’s why others say it as well.

    The second thing that saves me is that I adopt what may be called a “happy pessimism” view of life. I have two typical thoughts every mildly successful/talented person has heading towards middle age, or towards old age, and that is “my goodness, I’m old and all the greats hopes and dreams I’ve had are now very very unlikely.” Not only that but, “I squandered my youth getting distracted by unimportant things and now I’m that sad older person repenting his life that I knew when I was younger.” Maybe those thoughts are specific to me, but I think most modern depression not caused by drugs is a variation on similar themes: the realization that your life sucks, and that you’ve gone past the point of second chances. So what saved me? Acceptance of the new sucky older fatter me. I admit my current life is terrible. At times horrible. It’s not the worst, there are definitely people worse off, but by anyone’s standards my life has no future. The most difficult thing is to accept that fact. Yes, I might become homeless. I may one day beg for change, I might have to live in pain for the rest of my life. I may not have true love, because who wants to love an older man, or an old half-cripple? This ain’t tv. I may never have children, even though being a father is a dream of mine. My future friends may pity me at first, but then leave me because I am a burden. Yes I had and still have all these thoughts. But I accept them and say a cheerful okay. I call that “happy pessimism”.

    Before I figured out “happy pessimism” however, I did something selfish. Not suicide, obviously, but as selfish as suicide. It was in fact an idea I’ve had for a long time, since being a teenager. One day I simply packed my things up and left town. I left all my friends, new and old, without telling them. To them, I simply vanished. Forever. To this day, I haven’t contacted them. In a way, I had commited suicide. I realized later they may have initially thought I had commited suicide for a few horrible days. I’m terribly sorry I did that to them. I did it because I wanted out. I wanted “to leave without saying goodbye”. It was a way of ending my old life. My new life isn’t better. The same problems are still there. It’s just what I choose to do at the time. A new form of extreme therapy: psuedosuicide. It was beyond selfish and I think irreparable and unforgivable. But for some it might be a act that gives them a second chance. Better than a real suicide. Maybe my friends will forgive me one day. But that was a long time ago.

    In this new life I could reinvent myself. I found a new purpose. Multiple purposes in fact. I had dreams again. But this time I had no expectations. I may lose it all. But I’m gonna try, and fail. then try and fail again. I’ve accepted possibly looking ridiculous, pathetic, in the eyes of others. I accepted failing embarrasingly in front of my only loved ones (my parents). I’ve even accepted being a terrible burden on them. I can’t work, am in pain, and I really have no future. I have no friends, and no lovers. Once my parents pass away I will be truly alone. The prospects of that just destroys me, but It is the brutal honest truth. I’m not sure how I’ll handle it. Who will be left not to be “selfish” too?

    Doesn’t matter. I’ve accepted that possible fate. I won’t take any easy ways out. It won’t be pretty. And enduring all that pain, physical and psychological, may be for nothing. My worst fear is that I may not feel any happiness even if I get the few things I want. Maybe my few victories, great or small, won’t ever satisfy me. There may be still that deep unsatisfied feeling I’ve always had. They call that a symptom of depression too, I think, the inability to enjoy your accomplishents. Whatever. I’ve accepted that I’ll never be as happy as I was when I was in love.

    So I’ve decided (as much as I can decide these things) that I’ll never commit suicide, just like one decides to be vegeterian, or pacifist – even if my life become even more pathetic and horrible and a waste. I’d sooner wear a silly costume and fight the worst criminals of the world and die that way. Suicide by crimefighting, if you will. Better than that rope, that blade, that bullet. Give that life up for someone else, if your going to end it. Honorable in a way, that sentiment…maybe that’s what some soldiers feel like? Young men and women who feel they have no prospects, and it’s a way of “leaving”? “finding a new life”? “Finding new purpose”? “doing it for the less fortunate”? Why not. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

    • Paul

      I was glad to read a story so similar to my own, and to my mother’s. While I don’t use the “selfish act” justification on myself or anyone, she did constantly, and I can never disapprove her for all the good she brought on us because she forced herself to keep going.
      It worked out for her, and, at least professionally, it worked out for me too. Reading that message just brought back so many memories, and I would probably be incapable of coherence, but I just want to say this : you are right to accept the possibility of that fate, but your life won’t be meaningless. That single comment helped me go through the last few hours. I was waiting for an important answer, and while I got what I expected, I also felt, for the first time, that I could stand it if I didn’t get what I want. And that’s a feeling that, even in my worst moments, illness could not have twisted.

  • Em

    Even if you know all the right things to say, their brain can find a way to turn that against them. It’s not your fault.

  • CM Online

    Depression feels like a living nightmare to go through. Is there any hope to save a person’s life?

  • Garrett

    Dear Lindsay,
    Thank you for posting this. Just thank you.
    I love watching your videos and reading the stuff you post–have for years.
    Actually, you and the other folks at TGWTG inspired me as I was going through my teens and discovering who I am, what I want to do, and the like.
    That was before depression became a big part of my life, and the lives of a lot of people really close to me.
    Thank you for helping me understand more about what’s eating me, and how I can better help others when they’re off but I’m on.
    You are awesome and timely.
    So thanks again.

  • Laat

    I just want to say thank you. Thank you.

  • InsanityIsOverrated

    Thank you for having the courage to talk about this, stereotypes and social stigma be damned. I really hope that a few years (probably decades) from now the majority of people will understand that depression is a disease. You don’t just “get over” cancer either.
    My mother has been suffering from depression of the random-panic-attack variety for years now. It’s made worse by her job (she already had a burn-out), her asshole boss and bullying co-workers. Even her doctor(!) said, and I’m not kidding: “You’re fine, you have a great home life and a stable job. There’s nothing to worry about!” Two years ago she finally started seeing a psychologist for sessions and a psychiatrist for medication. I wish I could help her by doing more than just being there.

  • QuietW8

    Here’s another one I’ve personally experienced:

    Statement: “I know you have an illness and can’t help it.”

    Translation: “You are weak and incapable of being normal.”

  • I don’t know

    Lindsay, you are my hero. As another female person who makes videos on the internet, you have opened my eyes to so many things. You were my first introduction to feminism when I was in high school and your videos completely changed how I saw the world. Every time I write a script, I wish I had your brain so I could say things with as much intelligence and snarky wit as you do. You are so brave, not only for refusing to bend or soften your words for the people who harass you constantly (even I sometimes will word things differently for fear of giving them more ammunition) but also and especially for posting this. I’ve wanted to reach out so many times, but I always keep it to myself. I could never think to post about my depression so publicly. I just want you to know how loved you are and how much you’ve inspired me. I don’t know you personally, so maybe this won’t have too much impact, but I’m just so glad you’re alive. Thank you for absolutely everything you do.

  • Ismene Daskarolis

    I somehow feel that to a certain extent depression is the fruit of dishonesty and by this I mean, the incredible pressure society gives you to have those “two faces”. Only certain feelings are acceptable, certain choices, certain thaughts and even the weird people in society self righteously define what can be weird and what not. Noone is free to trully express themselves from a very young age either that expression is right or wrong, brutal, happy, even stupid cause part of being human is being incredibly dumb and enjoying it. From very young we have to belong to groups so In reality we aren’t really free to be the “kids” that we really are, we form complexes and we’re sad cause we know there’s something wrong about everything. People tend to link depression with a high I.Q, I think that makes sense in the way that a smart person really can’t stay content to shut themselves up or turn themselves off, they can convince themselves of anything, from best to worst to completely paralogical and when they shut up, all their suppressed feelings take over.

    I’d like to ask if anyone experiences an amazing lack of empathy towards others at times of crisis. I remember a friend of mine asking for help and me giving her all these cliche lines written above showing hypothetical care when in reality I just wanted it all to end, I really couldn’t grasp that she had a problem, as hard as I tried I really couldn’t care and I’ve been this since I can remember. Funny thing is that I’m a depressive myself, I know these lines are pointless. I’m guessing that if this thing is common, it has something to do with why people tend to believe depression is selfish, cause in reality when you’re so deeply sad, all you care about is yourself if you can care about anything at all, you really don’t contribute something to the group, you don’t give them care so it’s natural for them to push you away, though cynical.

    I somehow believe that the more you think about it, the more it grows, though forgetting about it doesn’t really seem to work either. I’ve found love and brutal honesty really is the only drug that helps. Having the feeling that you don’t have to hide yourself anymore really liberates you, perhaps that’s why depressives are considered “artistic” people, though to be fair, the ones that lve you really have to have balls of steel to cope with that so it hardly ever lasts, but the little times where you don’t feel alone, where you’re finally able to communicate are worth it. For one thing it’s hard to convince yourself that you’re in constant delusion when sadness is the only honest you, you know. Great article.

    • PinkyAndNoBrain

      “I’d like to ask if anyone experiences an amazing lack of empathy towards others at times of crisis.”

      I do; my patience and ability to love others just dries up in my darker periods, and I become like a leech, desperate for people to be nice to me but not able to do the same. It makes me feel really guilty, which of course spirals down into more depression . . . What I find most helpful in those times is to make an appointment with someone like a therapist, call a hotline, etc. That way you can be as selfish as you want to someone who’s paid to care, and it frees me at least up to being a bit more open and kind to those who need me. But don’t consider it a moral failing; it’s the weight of something bigger and far worse, and there’s only so much you can handle at one time. Apologize and offer kindness when you’re in a better place, but I know I’ve definitely been there plenty of times before.

      I think your entire post in general is interesting and full of good stuff to think about, but I feel like maybe you minimize the physical elements of depression a bit too much. For plenty of people (including myself), there’s nothing “wrong” that should cause it, I don’t have a reason to be depressed, and I have more love than I know what to do with. Therapy was good, drugs were better, and now I feel functional, even happy. So just be careful when you say things like “love and brutal honesty really is the only drug that helps,” because sometimes that could be damaging. My inner depression translator read that as “so don’t bother getting medical help, because if being honest and loved isn’t doing it then you’re not trying hard enough.”

  • Evan White

    Thank you so much for writing this. While I don’t have a depression diagnosis, I can understand what people like you go through. I have gone through some stress laden depressive episodes during high school and first year college. It’s easy for me to get depressed upon reflection about what I don’t have, what I haven’t done, and what I should have done instead of this or that. Depression can make you forget who you really are and will discredit all your achievements. I have mild Aspergers, so it can be very hard for me to communicate efficiently, effectively, and on the spot.

    You’re right about the weather as an influence for depression. For my entire life, I’ve lived in Newfoundland, a province that has put up with pretty awful conditions this winter. We actually had a hefty snow storm on April 1st. By the end of the week, all the snow had gone (no joke). Usually from late November to mid December, the snow starts falling and the weather gets worse, causing my happiness and overall enjoyment of life to dwindle. Once I get my English degree in two years, I’ll hopefully move to a place that has a less notorious climate.

    Right now, I’m on Fluoxetine so maybe that can make me feel happier. It’s my first time on that kind of medication, so lets hope it does its job. However, I realize that depression is not something you can remove, it’s just another abnormality. Yet, it’s unpredictable and parasitic.

    I look up to you, Todd, Doug, and many other internet critics who are willing to share their knowledge and voice their opinions to the viewers. This article has really struck a chord with me. My goal in life is to be a scholar as articulated and educated as you are.

    I look forward to any more work you put out and all your future accomplishments. Thanks again.

  • Jim Ballard

    Ms. Ellis, thank you so much for sharing this. Much of what you said is so familiar to me as to give me goosebumps, and I have to imagine it was hard in more than one way for you to write, let alone to publish. I am deeply sorry that you’re going through a bad time (if you’ll forgive the perhaps dismissive term, but that’s how I label them in my head; three or four years ago when I made a suicide attempt is referred to in my own mind as “when it was bad”), and hope you will pardon the presumption of an internet stranger heaping platitudes on you when I say: I have faith in you, Ms. Ellis. Though I know you only through your works, you have consistently displayed undeniable insight and resilience, and while you know that’s no magic wand to cure yourself with, it’s one of the best possible combinations of traits to defend yourself with.

  • Guest

  • 2Well

    I relate very well to the excuses. My biggest fear is not passing the character and fitness portion of the bar.

    I’ve never attempted suicide. I’ve thought about it, and I know if I tried I would succeed because I live alone. However, my religious upbringing instilled in me a fear of hell.

    I just don’t know what will help. I’m a student so I deal with student health clinics, and they act like I’m supposed to know what I want when I fucking don’t. They sit and wait for me to tell them about what triggered it, or some trauma that I can talk through in short term counseling, when there isn’t anything so I end up babbling about nothing in counseling because I don’t know what the fuck to say because they won’t ask me any damn questions so I waste everyone’s time and feel like I’m whining about nothing. They ask if I want medication and I don’t really know the answer to that.

    All I know is there is this cold gray scratchy wet blanket that is constantly threatening to wrap itself around me so tightly that I can’t move or breathe or think or do. Sometimes it does, and those are the dark blank moments of nothing. Even when things are goodish, it’s attached to me, floating behind me, always whispering that it will be back soon. Every time I poke my head above water, I know it is just temporary.

    It will always just be temporary. What’s the point, then?

    People always say they want to feel like themselves again. I’m not sure what myself even is. I’ve been aware of this since I was a young teen.

    How did people find out, Lindsay? How did you find people who were worried about losing you? I’ve opened up about my self injury in the past, but not to my current people, and I’ve never been able to just say that I’m depressed. I’ve never been able to tell people that I’m miserable for no damn reason. I always feel so transparent, like everyone can tell so they steer clear. I feel like the mask doesn’t fit right.

    I just wish this wasn’t forever.

  • Ciara Raven Blaze

    THANK YOU for this, Lindsay. no one deserves to suffer from something like this, and so many people don’t understand how to deal with others who are suffering, which–whether they mean to or not–usually leads to more problems. thank you for explaining it so well.

  • James Alexander

    Speaking as someone who also has depressive/suicidal thoughts, this was an incredible read. You are clearly an insightful person who is well-versed on the subject of depression. Thank you for all the time and energy you put into this post. It is comforting knowing that I am not the only one who struggles with this sort of thing. I hope we can all be here to help each other. You, for one, are an incredible person who deserves nothing but the best in all her years to come.

  • The letter E

    I don’t have all that much to say, but I want to. So I’ll keep it short.
    Before I knew of your depression (which I got from this article), I only knew your work and I respected you for that. After learning of it, I respect you even more and on a more personal level. I admire your courage in the way you handle it and your honesty about it. And I, lastly, really need to say: I hope you stick around.

  • helenino

    I am beyond grateful to you for consistently taking the platform and audience you have to share things like this, be it on mental health or feminism or what have you. you are often, even always, clear, helpful, entertaining and educational and don’t convey the feeling that you see yourself as an absolute authority, only that you have experience, knowledge and opinions you are interested in sharing with the world. As a teenager, watching your reviews cheered me up and I still rewatch them when I’m upset or stressed; now, doing a lot of volunteer work as a counselor and hopefully eventually being a teacher, a lot of the issues you raise and the way you raise them is unbelievably valuable. It’s hard to find media that is so defiantly free of bullshit, and I hope you continue to produce it for a long time.

  • robthom

    So do you have to be depressed to be a cool neo-feminist?

    Zoe Quinn made that game.
    Garafalo is too depressed to have any sexual contact with anybody (just come out of the closet Jeanine).
    Speaking of finally coming out of the closet, Ellen Page has been affecting that morose depression attitude ever since I’ve been aware of her.
    And I suspect that has been one of the reasons for her being consistently hailed as progressively empowered.
    And whats up with Daria, she doesn’t seem happy.

    Maybe I’m completely off base here,
    but are these people depressed all the time as window dressing for a hip, put upon self riotous stance of the perpetual victim?
    Struggling bravely against the unfair world of the mean ole white heterosexual male?

    I ask because when I get into something I try to get into things that I enjoy,
    that make me feel better.
    Or is that it?
    That snarky bellicose self-pity IS what makes you feel better?

  • Sam

    Lindsay,

    My god. This is phenomenal. I’ve been struggling with depression since I was about 10 years old and had no idea you have this problem too. I’ve always been too cowardly (or brave?) to make any attempts on my life, so I was a little startled to discover that someone as talented and insightful as yourself gets a severe case of the “downies” every now and then.

    What I just want to say is a simple thank you – thank you for writing this, for sharing your ideas, and, above all, for understanding what it’s like to grapple with this disease. It’s never easy, but if when it comes around again I hope you will remember that you are so, so appreciated for everything you’ve given us. You are one special human being and I hope that you’re with us for a very long time.

    Thank you.

  • MissRattie

    I laughed so hard when you said people don’t expect people with Type 1 diabetes to get better with diet and exercise…because yes, yes they do.

  • Hieronymous Pseudonymous

    Oh. Oh… Wow…

  • Richard

    So I came here to read your post about leaving Channel Awesome (talk about depressing!) but then I saw this post and I was just floored. As others have said, this is one of the best, most honest descriptions of depression ever written.

    I know that I’m about five months late in responding, but honestly, I could not have found this at a more perfect time, as I’m coming out of a bad depressive slump myself. I have stacks of self-help book laying around my house, but this – this brutally honest, no bullshit description of depression – has helped me more than any of them.

    First, thank you for pointing out that being suicidal / depressed / anxious / etc is not only a hardship, but a horribly embarrassing one. That is a major source of distress for me, as most of the people in my life, especially my professional life, are a bit older. My parent’s generation. A generation that scoffs at mental illness.

    “Depressed? Anxiety problems? Just man up and get over it, ya sissy!”

    Who are you supposed to talk to when you grow up constantly hearing that being depressed means you’re weak? Crazy? A coward? That, in the most empathy lacking point of view, it’s just an excuse lazy people use to justify laying around in bed all day. An excuse to demand special treatment. Grown men and women who just want to be coddled like a baby.

    If there’s anything about the future I feel hopeful for, it’s that this generation is growing up with a better and a more widespread understanding of mental disorders. That some kid going through what I went through is far more likely to feel safe and comfortable seeking help from their family and friends than I did. Than I do. That, by the courage of people like you and Allie Brosch speaking out, shit like this can cease to be seen as something to be embarrassed about. Because if that embarrassment prevents someone from seeking help, if can be fatal. Talk about dying from embarrassment…

    It’s this embarrassment that causes me to “turn on” in public, as you call it. To put on my mask. I may be wallowing in misery, but how dare I bother someone else with my problems? Of course, this complicates things when I’m trying to talk to my doctor…even when I’m specifically sitting down with someone to tell them my woes, I instead smile, say things are going great, and have a nice chat for an hour or so. Hard for someone to help if you can’t even tell them what’s wrong! But that need to be seen as a nice, normal, happy-go-lucky guy is powerful.

    Here’s a question for one of my favorite feminist…do you think that need is the same, worse, or better for women than men?

    But anyway, I think what helped me the most is your metaphor of running with a sprained ankle. I’ve actually thought up this exact same thing to describe advice people have given me. But while I used it to explain why others advice was useless to me, I never made the connection with the second half of the analogy…that if continuing to run doesn’t help heal your ankle, then what does? You stop running and take care of it, dumbass! I’m so quick to use that idea to reject any help others might give me, but I don’t use the idea to inspire myself to take the actions necessary to take care of myself. Complaining about what won’t work isn’t going to help my sprained ankle get better!

    You reminded me that I need to stop trying to run through the pain and work on healing my ankle. That when I get through a bad period I can’t just pretend they don’t exist. When your ankle stops hurting, you don’t pretend that you don’t have a weak ankle. You exercise it, build up its strength. Preventative measures. It’s exactly what any athlete or gym rat would tell you.

    You reminded me that, like the untamed kudzu vine, my mental health has to be tended non-stop. If I don’t want my yard to turn into a jungle, I have to routinely mow the grass, keep it under control. Get out the damn weed-wacker and trim around the edges.

    And you reminded me that, while during my down times I may be completely robbed of motivation, energy, and the ability to just *do*, that it doesn’t mean I’ve lost my creativity or passion. I need to be willing to accept that I’m temporarily out of commission. That I need to focus on healing, not making myself feel like shit by dwelling on what I can’t currently do.

    You made me realize that, through the good times and the bad, I need to maintain that constant vigilance. For my friends and loved ones, but most importantly, for myself.

    So, as many others have already said – Thank you for this. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!
    And, to try and end this on as sappy a note as possible, I’m sad to hear that you’re leaving Channel Awesome, and I’m going to miss your reviews terribly! But I wish you nothing but the best in your future endeavours. With your brilliance and wit, I’m certain you can go far in whatever direction you choose!

    And for what it’s worth coming from some stranger on the internet, I’m here for you. If you ever need anything you are more than welcome to contact me, even if it’s just to unload your burdens on a neutral third party, lol…

  • Solomon Wakeling

    This was marvellous. The one I get often is the referral brush-off: “maybe you should talk to your doctor or mental health professional.” Yes I know that, I’m going to. But I’m talking to *you* right now.

    Your blog inspired me to write more openly about my own experience of schizoaffective disorder. I did this through the frame of some of my interactions with film critic Roger Ebert, whom I was in (strange as it may seem) email contact with at one point. It’s here if anyone wants to read it. Not so big on pimping myself but Lindsay’s entry did inspire me, so maybe it won’t hurt to share something back. https://solomonwakeling.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/roger-ebert-and-me/

  • Allan Hunt

    I’m a postgraduate student in psychology, but my focus is more on identity formation and maintenance, so my understanding of mood disorders and such is almost purely academic. So I found this particularly helpful and interesting, getting a clear description of what it’s like to live with such an issue. So, for that, thank you. I’ll try to bear that in mind going forward.

  • M

    Thank you so much! I have been a fan of your reviews for years, and also deal with depression. I came to this site to read about why you’re leaving CA, and found this. Reading this has helped me a lot. Again, thank you!

  • Jason Olshefsky

    It’s funny … I have a kind of “lesbian gaydar” … lesbidar or something. I am learning to hone it, but it basically works that I’m instantly smitten with some woman and it has a certain kind of flavored smittenness which reveals itself later to be that she’s gay. (Is that insensitive? I’m just trying to be brief.) I feel like I also have a kind of depression gaydar … only minus the gay part, you know. It’s more of a kindredness. Maybe it’s just that the preponderance of introverted, intelligent people who try to show an extroverted side are disproportionately depressed. But I got into the “Nostalgia Chick” videos on Blip.tv and I found your arguments compelling and often insightful (although I do want to go back to check out Freddy Got Fingered because I remember it being stupid-funny but 10 years have elapsed and my opinion of the movie has officially expired.) There was just something so well planned? scripted? professional? about your presentation that gave me fleeting glimpses … I’d think, “she seems so positive … it’s not right.” I don’t know how to explain it, and I’m rambling, and I think I am way into braggy “I’m so clever” douche territory that I’ll just quit now.

    In an attempt at redemption, let me talk about a movie called “Here One Day” which was a documentary about a woman finally listening to the cassettes her bipolar mother made—tapes she couldn’t listen to for years after her suicide. After the screening, in an informal discussion, one woman commented that she didn’t understand suicide, but got a glimpse through her daughter: she thought suicide was a loss, but her daughter saw it as freedom—an escape from suffering.

    I was recently thinking about it in my own life and came up with another presumably helpful analogy: imagine an abusive asshole who yells at you all the time that you are worthless—any reasonable person would get away from the abuser and never look back, but what if that abuser was in your own head? That’s what it’s like for me, only sometimes the abuser is in a far corner of my mind and it’s pretty tolerable.

    One last thought: you revealed a few things about your own depression, and people have been commending you on your honesty. And it is commendable, but I think anybody who identifies as depressed knows the thoughts go much deeper than that. Imagine if we were to write the whole story—the step-by-step methodical plan to self-annihilation, for instance. If we said it was fiction, it would be unrealistically dark. If we said it was fact, people would lose their shit. So it goes unspoken.

  • f.m.

    I just want to say, you really hit the nail on the head in this topic in so many areas. However, what I disagree with I guess, is that you seem to be saying depression is like a flair up of some virus that comes and goes without explanation. It’s true that depression does flair up in bouts, and comes and goes, like bad anxiety. However, it doesn’t just “happen” without reason. It is your overall satisfaction with what you have in life currently that is making this depression so debilitating for you. Only you would know just what you’re dissatisfied with, of course. Maybe you hate your job? or want to travel? find a soulmate? etc.., could be any of those things you feel you don’t have, and feel you may never have. Depression is rooted in feelings of hopelessness.

    It is true a tendacy to slip into a depressive, or anxious state is in our DNA, but I consider it a personality related issue, depressives are emotional, deeply thoughtful people for the most part, when we are sad, we suffer greater, feel deeper, we just hurt more.

    Anyway, having suffered depression and anxiety up and down for pretty much all my life, I just felt compelled to explain (from my own personal experience) there is always a reason for these bouts of gloom in us, the more we strive to achieve a life we’re more satisfied with, the less intense, and dibilitating these bouts become.

    To give one last example, I liken our over-all satisfaction with the way our life is going to a healthy immune system. When we feel better about our general outlook on life, the down days, the anxious thoughts, are NOT as crippling as they are when our outlook on life is not fulfilling, or satisfying to us, so I think of those down periods as a result of a weakened immune system, unable to fight off these attacks as we can when we’re in a happier state of mind, BECAUSE we have no hope during these bleak days. We have no evidence things will get better, it’s hard to keep going well having no viable hope, no fulfillment.

    I hope what I wrote can make some kind of sense anyway. Apologies for any spelling errors, it’s hard to edit using a mobile device.

  • This article is eight months old – yet I find myself constantly coming back to it.

    I’ve dealt with a severe mood disorder for as long as I can remember – extremes of mood greater than almost anyone else I know – and it was only a couple of years ago that I was finally diagnosed with cyclothymia – though in my non-medical inexperience I’m not so sure of the accuracy of that. Cyclothymia’s diagnostic criteria don’t encompass major depression. Nor suicidal ideation. Nor attempts.

    The only reason I’m still here to type this is I was too drunk to put the right end of a captive bolt pistol against my head.

    One thing that sticks with me the most is when you talk about depression rendering one unable to work. Productivity for me is the first thing to go once the downward spiral into a depressive episode commences, and after hours of gazing blankly at a computer screen having accomplished nothing, the thoughts of being a worthless, talentless shirker are only amplified. If I may steal a turn of phrase from Stephen Fry, the depressive component of me manifests itself as a voice, constantly berating myself for going nowhere in life, beating me up whenever I can’t work, calling me a useless, worthless waste of space, no better than filth; and that voice is my own.

    I used to be teetotal. I didn’t trust myself with alcohol. But what I found was that getting drunk, smashed drunk, drowned out the self-loathing, the existential misery (of which being trans is a large part) – a few hours of sweet relief in a drug-induced oblivion. Unable to have depressive thoughts. Unable to have any thoughts at all.

    I used to be teetotal. Then I realised alcohol made me forget all the things I hate about myself.

    I don’t know how long I’m going to last. I’m able to write this comment – another face in the crowd, I suppose – but I can’t do anything else. God knows I want to. God knows I want something to fill my days other than wild oscillations of mood, a degree I hate, and YouTube.

    God knows I tried.

    I don’t know if I want to try any more.

  • David Wrangefors

    This is the best thing I’ve read about depression in a long time, maybe ever. I wish I had your level of creativity and intellect.

  • Jen

    Wow.. You nailed what I’ve been/am going through perfectly, down to the grey mist-part (which I’ve never seen anyone mention so I thought it was just me). Thank you for writing this, it was amazing read.

  • Will Breen

    Thank you. I’ve struggled with suicidal depression for most of my life at this point (I can remember asking my mom about suicide when I was, like, 6 or 7, maybe 8), and seeing an account this frank and relatable from someone I’ve been a big fan (you’re part of the reason I study film, as strange as that sounds) of since I was 16 means a lot to me. So, yeah. Thank you for writing this.

  • saciariley

    I know I’m reading this over a year late, but at 4AM on a Saturday it seemed right. I’ve struggled with the idealization as long as I can remember – it permeates nearly everything creative I tried to do. When I was younger, I was okay with this because I felt it gave more depth and explanation to my work. Now, nearly 30 and realizing the most I’ve accomplished is 5 years at a shitty job and two cats, its harder to feel that I have any *right* to feel how I do because I’m so useless. But that’s a discussion for another time. I just wanted to say thanks for saying what I couldn’t – it doesn’t get cured, there is no magic pill it just goes away and lurks. You can find solutions in anything and I fully support anything anyone does to survive as long as they are aware of the consequences. I know depression runs in my family so from a young age I tried what I thought would help – religion, spirituality, being an adult, drugs, alcohol, and on and on. I found a person who I love and care for and I know that helps more than most anything but I still know there is more to it, that he is not my life but he helps. I am not ashamed to admit that anymore. Nor am I ashamed to admit, yes, my brain chemistry isn’t right and I need chemistry. But then comes the discussion of healthcare in the United States and that’s a whole ball of what-the-fucking-fuck that you almost give up again, but I’ve found ways. Probably not the most acceptable, but at least I can get up in the morning and make breakfast and lunch for my fiancee and feed that cats, even if I go back to bed for 4 hours and only get up if I have to – I still do those things for them. So it’s small steps over time, but they work. My last attempt was 5 years ago and it was one of the saddest points in my life – two of my best friends were suddenly gone from my life. My healthcare was gone suddenly – so I went off SSRI medications suddenly, my fiancee lost his job – it was horrible. But I got thru it and I don’t know if it made me stronger or more bitter, but I remember how I got there and I remember where I am now, and it’s almost okay. Mostly okay. I have bad days and weeks, but they don’t define me. That was one of the hardest things for me to learn – that I’m not defined by this and that helps me.

    I’m sorry I thought this was going somewhere but it didn’t really. I just wanted to say thank you for what you do and for talking.

    Thank you.

  • This section was especially true to me, as many of the jobs I have looked into would not give even a bit of consideration to someone who had felt this kind of depression.

    “Being suicidal is more than a crushing emotional burden- it’s fucking embarrassing. This is not true for all, but most people with mood disorders learn that there is no room in this world for their damage. It jeopardizes jobs, relationships, businesses, and most people tend not to understand your mindset.”

  • Curt Clark

    I’ve been a fan for years, and all this time I had no idea you suffered from depression too, Lindsay.

    Sorry. Now I feel like a heel.

    But you hit all the things on the head. Thank you. 🙂

    It’s going to be OK, fish…it’s all going to be OK…

  • Michelle

    Thank you so much for posting this. There were a few things in here I resonated with (especially also as someone who works freelance) that no one else had previously mentioned in other things I had read about depression. I too, swung back into a depressive episode when Robin Williams died and I too wrote a post on it (barefootaya.com you don’t have to read it). There was so much to be said about someone so loved and so seemingly sane and how it hit me so deeply because, wow, he is also so much like me. I GET that. I UNDERSTAND. My actual suicide attempts happened as a teenager and have tapered off since although I do get urges sometimes and suicidal thoughts nearly once a week at the least. The struggle seem so never-ending, but I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten stronger and more tactful at dealing with the Monster in the back of my head. I’ve become far more aware of my mental health and try to keep up my physical health as well. It’s helped, but there’s no cure, of course. Best of luck to you. I hope you’re doing well.

    Best,
    Michelle
    The Barefoot Aya

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