When I was 12 years old I found myself standing on the top floor of a five story building in my school, peering down through the gap in the stairwell. I was trying to work out if the fall would be enough to kill me or if my bodies natural want to survive would kick in last minute and have me reach out and grab the handrail. I’d break a lot of bones but probably wouldn’t die and so I decided against it.
This was the beginning of my struggle with depression. It is a struggle I have been facing for over half my life and it is a struggle I know will always be with me and be a part of who I am.
Earlier this week my cousin Brian posted a blog post on Facebook written by Garreth MacNamee where he talked in depth about his struggle with depression. It was incredibly moving and it has become the inspiration I needed to tell people about my life with depression. Many of the people closest to me probably don’t even know I suffer from depression and what that means for me. I’ve never wanted to appear to my friends like I was seeking attention and so I’ve always just kept it within my family.
For those of you that have never dealt with it, depression is not simply a feeling of overwhelming sadness. It is not something you can cheer up and get over. And for me, it is not something where you want people worrying and fussing about you. In fact that’s the last thing you want. So you lock yourself up and don’t say a word to your friends.
I often have a complete lack of self worth and a constant feeling of numbness. Not sadness, but nothingness. I don’t feel like I am good enough to accomplish anything and more often than not, that results in me not even trying. Even if opportunities are dropped on my lap I’ll just ignore them because I’m not good enough. Often, I wake up and don’t see a point in getting out of my bed because what’s the point? I think to myself, I don’t want to face people today. Some days are better than others though, so I get up and fight because that’s what I’ve trained myself to do. And to those that have recently pushed me into new projects, thank you. You don’t know how much you’ve helped me.
That being said, depression runs in my family. My mother suffers from it and her father suffered from it too. Thankfully that means I have someone close to me that understands what I go through. She is able to spot when I’m in a particularly difficult period and she is always the person to help me pull myself out the other side. She, along with my Dad, saved my life when I was 12 and they have saved me many times since. Without my mother to help me I, honestly don’t think I’d be alive today.
Sadly I’ve lost acquaintances and even a close friend to suicide. I think I have some level of understanding of the helplessness and hopelessness that they suffered before they ended their lives. I sometimes wonder if they had known that I suffer from a mental illness myself would they have reached out to me? The answer is probably no, but I’ll write this now and make it clear for all those who know me that it is OK to talk about mental health. There are people who know what you feel and know what you’re going through.
Like Garreth in his article, it is important to me that I make myself clear that this is not a cry for help. This is me showing that I am on top of this. I have the support network I need to deal with depression. I hope other people out there know they have people to talk to. Always.