Dear Sister, Aunt, Cousin, Co-Worker, Friend
You haven’t told me a word, but I know what you’re going through. Most of the time, you don’t really know you’re suffering from it until it’s on its way out.
You weren’t with me then, didn’t have a clue, but these things are so easy to hide, you know?
When your life is filled with obligations – making a living, raising kids – you fill your days with routine, wish they would go on forever, terrified of the times you’re alone in your head, in the silence, in the night. The mind is such a powerful thing. It drags you through the darkness, fills you with thoughts so real, you know nothing else, believe in no one else. Sometimes, you’d call me, ask me where I’ve been, assuming all along that it was because I worked too much. I couldn’t stand to be around you. We’d have family get-togethers and I’d be hiding in my room reading a book.
Little did you know that my work saved me. It was the only time I had to pull myself out of this funk, think outside of myself, interact, pretend, succeed. You didn’t know that either. That as I rose higher and higher in my career, I sunk lower and lower into myself. That despite the accolades, promotion and recognition, there were nights I sat on the balcony of my apartment grappling with voices in my head telling me you’d be better off if I flung myself twenty eight stories onto the ground. You didn’t know that I stopped paying my bills, disengaged from daily tasks, lived on three hours of sleep at night. Maybe you saw me focusing on the wrong things, the wrong people, searching for love in the wrong places. You tried to be supportive, I guess. Didn’t really want to interfere in what you thought was just a mid-life crisis.
I was paralyzed, immobile, inconsolable, unrecognizable.
Your ignorance didn’t advise me to seek help. But one day, I picked up the phone and did just that. Every Saturday, I would sit in my therapist’s office, breaking down in pieces, asking desperately why the perfect girl, wife, mother, daughter was falling apart. Slowly, I began to understand why, looked at my past to explain the triggers that brought me to this place. I also began to use clear words to describe what I had. I had to accept that I was in the middle of it, had to find ways to manage my life through it.
That was eighteen months ago. The hell in my head went on for two years. None of you knew, none of you really wanted to know.
But now that you’re going through it, I want you to know that you’re not alone. That I am here because I’ve lived through it.
Depression does not discriminate. Thoughts of self destruction can sometimes be so overpowering, it encompasses any good thing, any love that we’ve had in this life. Channeling these negative thoughts and feelings creatively and productively can make all the difference. In a way, I was blessed by my ability to write and publish books. In my fight to survive the day, I poured all my energy into my work. Those were the things that saved me.
You didn’t. But it wasn’t your fault.
I’m learning so much about mindfulness now. It brings me back to center, keeps me living in the moment and not in the past. I’ve never been happier in my life, never experienced so much peace. But to get here, I had to come from there.
I’ve learned so much and I want to share it with you. Because even if you didn’t know –
And I’m here for you.
Depression is a bitch. Remember that your mind is playing games with you. Take yourself back from that monster and know that help is just a phone call away.