I didn't know her, know her. But I did.
I won't pretend that we were friends. But I will tell you that I responded to a Facebook update in which she expressed sadness and frustration and Depression I understood. So I messaged her, privately, and we exchanged phone numbers. I told her I got her; what she'd said and how she felt and then we joked about never ending text messages because we are both so very good at never saying good-bye.
Turns out, we never really said hello.
A long time ago, I sat in a bathtub, crying, a letter from a friend who was not a friend in my hands. The letter told me that if I'd really been bulimic and anorexic, I'd weigh less. That if I'd really wanted to kill myself, I'd already be dead. I sat in that bathtub and cried and cried and cried because I had been (and still was) one and wanted to (but was afraid) of the finality of the other. I sat in that bathtub thinking how horrible she'd feel when I proved her wrong; that I had really, really meant it and that she'd really, really missed the signs and how her letter would forever tie her to the ending I was so very afraid of solidifying.
I'm simplifying things here and not bothering to get into the nitty-gritty explaining all there is to the many facets of mental illnesses like depression. I'll simply say this: Depressed people can be happy. They can smile and laugh and look like they are having a great fucking time at the party. Because they are. Right then. Maybe they were in tears before they showed up and maybe they laugh on the way out the door, truly happy and shining. Maybe that happiness and light sticks for awhile. Maybe it doesn't. Success is measured in moments when you struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts. And those of us living with it know to treasure every moment of light we are able to hold on to. What depression is not is an umbrella that never closes.
But people like the friend who was never a friend that say things like the things she said to me in that letter don't understand this. The very fact that I was still living only served as proof to her that I was doing a fucking beautiful job of being a giant drama queen looking for attention. Back then, I thought maybe she was right. Her thoughts poisoned my surival and turned what I should have celebrated into more self-doubt. However unsure I was at the time, though, of how to classify what was happening, I was suddenly sure that despite the mental hell playing itself out inside of my head, the best course of action was to stand the hell up, get out of the bathtub I had intended to be found in, and try my damndest to prove her right. Maybe I had wanted to die. But that never meant that I had stopped wanting to live.
Another time, I tried again. But again, fear shook me awake at the last minute, I called the guy I was dating at the time, and he took me to the hospital where the uninterested nurses gave me charcoal to drink and asked me if I planned to try again. I just wanted to go home. So I said what I needed to say and was released.
I won't lie. My days are not always sunshine and roses. I pretend... a lot. For me, for my kid, for everybody else. When things get bad, I resort to a cocoon on blankets and darkness, while the dishes sit in the sink and the laundry piles up. These are the times the microwave provides sustenance for my family and I wonder how long I will feel guilty for not trying harder when the little I am doing takes so much effort. I wonder when I will wake up and the light will pierce through the darkness and I will be able to feel the love that, rationally, I knew had always been there. So far, and I hope, for the tomorrows to come, I have been and will remain lucky. Determined to stay mad enough about that fucking letter from the friend who was never a friend to never stop trying to prove her right. I am alive because I am angry enough to have kept going.
Depression, though, isn't a place where reason and rationale reside. Depression lies. Darkness weighs so much more than light. And sometimes, too many times, depression wins. This makes the person being mourned no less stronger than those of us still here. Never. And we will remember them and the light and love surrounding them. For always.
Depression lies. Depression sucks.
If you are in crisis, please, please, reach out. If you know someone in crisis, please, please, say something. Say anything.
Say... hello. And then say it again.
I didn't know her, know her. But...
If you know someone, or are yourself, in immediate danger, call 911.
1 (800) 273-8255, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week, Languages: English, Spanish, Website:
ImALIVE; Online Crisis Network, 100% of volunteers trained in crisis intervention, online chat and phone options to connect with a volunteer. website: www.hopeline.com. Phone: 1 (800) 784-2433