I’ve talked to three friends with major depression in the last couple of weeks. One is working to keep from reaching the bottom. One is coming up out of a bad spot brought on by health problems. One, the one I got an email from this morning, is very close to the edge but throwing out a hand for help. I’m flattered and terrified that it was thrown my way.
They’re all incredibly talented people. They all have an amazing amount to offer the world, and they’re hardly alone in that among people with depression. For them, I repost this.
Depression is much like that abusive significant other. It’s always there, even after all your friends have gone home. It’s waiting for you after a day out or even the rare short vacation. And it never, ever stops lying to you*.
The lies are the worst part, the little whispers in your ear that tell you you’re nothing–not good enough, not loveable enough, not smart enough, not strong enough–not whatever it is you would need to be to get away. Because it doesn’t want you to get away. It doesn’t like it when you turn your back for even a second, when you’re happy for just a moment without it. It doesn’t like it when you realize that someone else wants you.
Depression is a jealous mate. It wants to possess every tiny bit of you, even if it has to kill you to be sure of you. It goes hardest after the people who love you and want to help you get away to someplace healthier. Sometimes it does it directly and sometimes by whispering more loudly. Sometimes both, because that weakens you more.
That’s why it hurts me as much as it does to see Juniper feeling alone and unable to cope. Those are lies–not Juniper’s lies, mind you, but the lies of her depression.
Juniper is one of the strongest people I know. She has to be. She’s never not had depression following her around, whispering in her ear, yet she’s accomplished so much. She’s carved out an existence independent of her family’s expectations. She’s achieved graduate school despite having to clean up the messes depression has left her. She’s traveled internationally, and not just to some cushy Caribbean resort. She’s shown flexibility, gathering accomplishments in both the humanities and in science. She’s developed a personal sense of style and taste that others look to. She’s written a blog that in a very short time built an audience that will wait months for her next post.
Those are just the few things I know about. They’re things to be proud of in anybody’s book, but to do them while managing the deep depression that Juniper is prone to is astounding. I haven’t done nearly as well, and I admire Juniper for this more than I can say.
Nor am I the only one. In addition to everything else, Juniper is one of those people whom others (except a few poisoned and poisonous internet trolls) quickly come to love. On top of all her accomplishments, Juniper is sweet and loyal and sharp and passionate. People sit up and take notice when she comes on the scene, and they keep an eye out for her when she hasn’t been around for a little while. Juniper is very much not alone, except by the machinations of jealous depression.
Just as it is only that ever-whispering, constantly belittling depression that keeps her from knowing all this on her own.
So, Juniper dear, please, no matter what the depression tells you, don’t ever think you’re weak and don’t ever think you’re alone. Those are lies, told not to protect you, but to isolate you. The truth is that you’re one of the strongest people I know. You’re simply preoccupied with this monster that’s determined not to set you free, and your particular monster is too much work for even the strongest person to handle.
The other happy truth is that there are plenty of us out here who want to help. We can’t make the depression go away. We can’t make it leave you alone. But we can, if you let us, take up some of the work of loving you and believing in you. We are not as strong as you are, and we may not be as accomplished, but this small thing is so much easier for us that we can do it while you continue your fight.
Please let us.
* Yes, I’m going to use dualistic language here. No, I do not believe in a dualist theory of mind. It’s a metaphor.