I wanted to comment on Stereo’s blog but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to say and it just wouldn’t fit in the comment section.
Go read her post here. (If you are not following her or reading her blog, you really are missing out!)
Reading that post brought up so many feeling about my own struggles with depression and my own hospitalization back in 2000. Wow, it’s been almost 12 years and if you had asked me back then if I’d still be alive now, my answer would have been no, said without a second of hesitation.
I remember in the months and years after my stint in the hospital I would fantasize about going back – not because I wanted to be that sick again but because the hospital ward provided me a safe, secure and most importantly, an understanding place where my particular type of crazy was ok. I was actually pretty “normal” there – it felt nice.
I made friends there. We bonded over our age – there were quite a few teen/early 20s girls there – our symptoms, our suicide attempts and, most importantly, an overwhelming lack of understanding from everyone around us in the outside world.
I can’t pinpoint when my depression started. I do know the first time I held a knife to my wrist I was 8 years old. No one knew. No one in my family still knows but there were a lot of signs along the way and people chose to ignore them. The night I packed my suitcase and l left my parents home at 18, I screamed over and over that I was either leaving of my own free will or I was going to end my life and get out of there that way. Maybe my parents thought I was just being dramatic, maybe they never thought I’d go through with it but if they didn’t let me leave then, I would have tried to kill myself that night.
I was literally screaming and no one was listening.
Before I was hospitalized – I barely whispered. I called the Gay Boyfriend, who was still my boyfriend at the time and said, “You have to come get me now, I can’t be alone.” He picked me up, took me to see my doctor and my therapist who called the hospital and told them to expect me.
The Gay BF has been listening to me since we were 14. I am the first to admit having him to just listen has been one of the few things that has allowed me to keep going over the years. No, he doesn’t understand what it’s like to be depressed or wanting to kill yourself but he does understand that I am in pain and in need of a friend and a soft spot to land sometimes.
People spend so much time fearing and avoiding those with mental illnesses they forget that they are suffering – the same way a cancer patient suffers. They deserve our care and attention even if their behaviour is incomprehensible. If a mentally ill person could choose not to be ill; not to lash out; not to withdraw; not to want to hurt themselves or others, they would. There is no one, dead or alive I would wish depression on – it has robbed me of so much I can never get back and it continues to impact how I cope daily.
The other part of the response to Stereo’s post that I wanted to highlight was simply that not taking those opportunities to connect, not making that extra effort sometimes can be dangerous. The further I fall into a depression the more I withdraw and the less likely I am to ask for help. If you say you’re going to call and you don’t my depressive mind runs with that and interprets it as not being worthy of your time and attention which further fuels my depressive state.
Through my depressive world view, I also sometimes feel like people don’t want to talk or be around me when I can’t be 100%. It’s a cycle that fuels itself – I withdraw because I’m depressed which makes me more depressed and causes me to withdraw further.
I’m rambling now but all this to say just reach out sometimes even if the person seems withdrawn or distant. You never know how much a “simple gesture” can help someone.