I know I’ve been a downer lately.
Then blogging about how I’m not blogging.
I’ve given hints here and there that all is not always well in Yuliya land. And the minute I hit publish on posts like that, posts in which I have made a conscious decision to talk about depression, I am at once relieved and regretful. I second guess my decision to put it out there because ‘it’ isn’t inspirational or happy or an appeal to the taste buds but something darker, more uncomfortable and quite possibly NOT the side dish you want with your morning cup of coffee.
Let’s face it, it’s much easier (for me) to joke about it…
Then to write the words “I struggle with depression.”
Because as part of that struggle I face my own judgement and the judgement of others that what I am feeling isn’t real. The implications both subtle and overt that if only I knew what real problems were (famine, war, rape) I wouldn’t waste my time feeling melancholy or whatever over my life. My life, which on paper looks pretty great.
But depression isn’t about whether or not your problems are more or less legitimate than someone else’s. It is an internal struggle in which your perception of the external is skewed. When you are in the grips of it, you believe that you are a burden to those who love you and that the only solution can be to take yourself out of the equation. Permanently.
Someone I care about recently made that decision. She was a bright, beautiful, caring and wonderfully unique person and she ended her life.
I am still in denial about this, her Facebook status updates and photos with family and friends are deceptively normal, happy even. And yet she’s gone.
I wonder if I could have been there somehow, if I could have made a difference, if maybe I could go back in time to our time in the dorms (I was her Resident Adviser) and DO SOMETHING to change this outcome.
I know logically there is little I can do in this case except be there as best I can for the loved ones left behind that are dealing with the aftermath.
But going forward, what can I do?
The only thing I can think of to do is to make a conscious decision to talk about depression. To say “it’s okay” , “I understand”, “I know that you are struggling, I struggle too.”
This is MY corner of the internet and it’s my responsibility (first and foremost to myself) to be honest, to be open, to be vulnerable and authentic.
To say I know what it’s like to be in that place, the place where suicide seems like the answer.
To say to anyone reading this, that if you are in my life, online or off, and you are feeling like this is your answer PLEASE reach out and tell someone. Pick up the phone, get online, get the help you need.
If you know someone that you suspect might be struggling, please reach out and be there for them. The person struggling with depression might be outgoing, gregarious, or bubbly. They might not be someone who looks like a typically depressed person, whatever that looks like. Their life might seem perfect on paper, in a blog post or on a Facebook wall.
They might not ask for help. You might wonder if you should say anything at all.
Be relentless, be annoying, be WRONG, just be there.
To Jessica’s family and friends. I am so sorry for your loss. She touched my life and she will always remain in my heart.