I have this problem … I am … how you say … multidimensional. Not in the dictionary sense, but in the sense that I can see several different dimensions. And not in the quantum physics sense. To me, Quantum Physics is as intelligible as the theme song for Big Bang Theory. No, I don’t want you to explain it. I love the show though – up to Season 3 at least. After that …
What I mean is I can often see both sides of an argument, and that can get really annoying. Also, draining. So I understand the people who say depression is an illness that needs doctors and drugs. And those who say we should just stop feeling low and feel awesome instead. I see the truth in those who urge us to keep our heads up and see each new day as a blessing. And the ones that want to punch them, because every new morning is torture when you wish you had just died in your sleep.
I feel the pain of friends and family members who ask, ‘Why didn’t I see it? Why didn’t you just ask me for help?’ And I can comprehend the ones who did ask for help and were dismissed because they ‘like their suffering’ or ‘just want attention.’
I know some people see suicide as selfish, because you don’t think about the suffering of those you’ve left behind. And I know what it’s like to be at the point of death, when you think you’re doing your loved ones a favour, when you’re convinced that they’d be better off without you, or worse, that they won’t even notice that you’re gone.
The thing with the suicide decision – because it is a decision – is that you feel it’s the only way out. No one can really understand it unless they’ve been there. And no one can convince you the feeling passes unless they’ve been there … and survived to see it pass.
Also, the saddest thing about (clinical) depression is it always comes back. You can manage it, like HIV or Sickle Cell or other lifetime illnesses, but it never really truly goes away. So if you’re at a point you want to die, some day soon, you’ll be at that point again. And sometimes, it’s the inevitability that makes you take that final plunge, because you want it all to stop, once and for all.
Depressed people (and melancholics) are often accused of enjoying being down. After all, if you didn’t like that dark space, you wouldn’t keep going back to it, right? If you know fire burns, and you keep sticking fingers in it, you must really like the feeling, no? No. depression isn’t like that. It has no logic. It has no reason. It doesn’t even really have a cure. But it can be managed. And you have to want to get better.
I understand people saying that you can’t get better, not while you’re in the throes of the darkness. They want to, but they just can’t. They don’t even have the strength to start. There is a breaking point though. And at that breaking point, you choose which way to go. You decide to make it stop. You jump off the cliff. But you don’t all jump into the same space.
You can jump off into death, where you believe the pain finally ends. Or you jump off into life and get help. By seeing a therapist, or having hands laid on you, or surrounding yourself with people who care, or cutting yourself off from those who don’t understand. Either way, it’s a cliff, and the only one that can jump off it is you.
I’ve been on this cliff a bunch of times in my young life, and I always jumped one way. This time, I decided to jump off the other, into the ocean of love, acceptance, and yes, professional help. Because this ish does end eventually. If someone is reading this and they’re at the wrong edge, I don’t judge them, because I get that. I’ve been there. I’ve felt the promise of peace, rest, an end to it all. But now I’m on the other side, and I see the hope of living, with or without this black dog.
In Chimamanda’s article, she said a lot of creatives suffer from depression. Some of us even glory in it, though not deliberately. We own it, embrace it, accept it as a part of who we are. It’s like we’re almost afraid that without it, we will lose the ‘magic’ of our art. I’ve done that. I’ve told myself how dark songs, dark work, dark poetry is so much more beautiful than happy stuff. Even Ed Sheeran agrees. Yes, he writes the kind of songs that ‘girls eat ice cream and sing along to,’ but he also says he’s a happy person because he puts all his sadness into music and feels better once those feelings are out of his system.
That’s the part we don’t think about – that after the catharsis of writing a depressing piece, painting a dark canvas, or singing about darkness, hades and death, the artist often feels better. Once the demons are down on paper or out on tape, the darkness goes with it. Not always, but often. Artistic muse inspires you, and it can also heal you.
Clinical depression is like AIDS. It’s a lifetime affliction, but it can be handled. And you can’t handle it alone. You have to get help. Because if you don’t get help, this thing can kill you. Again, like AIDS, no one can make you get help. You have to do that part on your own. And like AIDS, you have to seek that help from the right people. Not the ones who will laugh at you, or shun you, or tell everyone about you. You need the ones with skills that can fix you, the ones that will actually help you.
Because something is broken inside you. And if you want to stay here, then that something needs to be fixed, or at the very least, you need to learn the skills to deal with said thing. So don’t be afraid. Or be afraid, but get help just the same. Because no matter how many people want you to snap out of it, get over it, or think of someone other than yourself, there are others who want to help you through this, and they can. For their sake, and yours, don’t give up. Not yet. Not tonight.
♫ One thing ♫ Finger Eleven ♫