Depression; You May have heard of it. You may even be a person that suffers from it. It is a mental illness; and a true silent killer. With the recent losses of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I want to take a moment to shed light on this rather heavy topic.
I have been diagnosed with depression. I have taken the necessary steps in my life to get the help I need. These steps included reaching out to loved ones, adapting a healthier lifestyle, and when all else failed, I was prescribed medication. Now I’m going to be honest with you; It took about 5 different kinds of medications to try before I found the right one. And what’s the right one, you might ask? The one that I can’t feel. The one that doesn’t make me feel like a zombie, or cause me to gain 20 pounds. I have enough issues in my life, the medication meant to help me shouldn’t be causing me more.
Depression and anxiety isn’t a new topic. We as a society have been becoming more and more ‘aware’ of this mental illness for the last few decades. But what is it about celebrities that causes us to bring suicide to light? People kill themselves everyday; it’s a sad truth. There are literally hundreds of veterans that suffer from PTSD and many end up committing suicide. Where is the outcry for them? Could it be because they are already suffering, that we turn a blind eye to their eventual demise?
The problem with depression and anxiety is you can’t always see it. I say always because sometimes the mental can manifest itself into the physical. Weight loss (or gain), hair loss, dark circles around the eyes. This can be our bodies natural reaction to the mental stress it feels. So what happens when there are no physical signs? What if you are just internally struggling?
When you have depression, having a support system isn’t enough; talking to someone isn’t enough. Mental illness is not going to go away because you have great friends, a great job, and an active lifestyle. Depression can mask itself; those who have this terrible illness have learned to mask it. We all have our reasons for avoiding the subject. We don’t want to be a burden, we don’t want to talk about it, we would rather just pretend it doesn’t exist…and so on.
When a person with PTSD commits suicide, society will see it as a terrible loss, but you will also start to read between the lines. Things like “free of pain” and “in a better place” start to come out. They were struggling, they were seeking help, and they still succumbed to their “demons.” In many cases, people didn’t even know the person was suffering; that’s when We (as a society) try to piece together the puzzle. Were they taking any medications? Was everything okay at home?
Name someone that you know who has a perfect life. Was it Kate Spade? Was it Anthony Bourdain? Is this why it is such a tragedy when a celebrity commits suicide? Are they the face of happiness? Celebrities are not beyond mortality. Their fame put them in the spotlight, and for those of them dealing with depression it just means it is a longer fall.
The rumors after the death of Kate Spade were immediately about how her husband was filing divorce. It becomes a witch hunt after a suicide to find the reason why. It isn’t enough that they were internally struggling; we need to find the final push. In this case, a man lost his wife and their daughter lost her mother. That should be the end of it. A man filing for divorce is not to be blamed for his wife’s suicide. She could not control his decisions anymore than he could control hers.
I still have days where I don’t feel okay. The days are few and far between, but they still happen. It can be next to impossible to rally me from my dark moods; my mind is set on being unhappy. Depression isn’t something I can “snap out of” or simply “get over.” My symptoms had once been so severe that that I couldn’t even leave the house. And you know what? I hid it well. I made excuses, I canceled plans, and I only showed up for the mandatory appointments. No one thought anything different. No one realized anything was wrong until I told them. That’s the scary part about mental illness. You won’t know until it’s too late.
I have been open with my depression and anxiety. I didn’t used to be, but it’s been a journey and to make any progress, I have to keep talking about it. It’s not going to go away. It’s a battle I intend to win; and it’s also a struggle. I understand how it can be so easily lost. I don’t plan my bad days and I don’t understand what triggers them; I do understand now that it’s the depression.
A long time ago, when I was having one of my “episodes,” my boyfriend at the time was trying to calm me down. He eventually got fed up with my negativity and emotional outbursts. He told me “you are making a storm out of a glass of water.” Surprisingly, his words pulled me out of my dark mood. I had never had something said to me that resonated so well with how I was feeling. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you, but it made perfect sense to me; It still does.
My heart breaks for anyone that commits suicide. I can only relate to how dark and raw my own pain has been with depression; and even then I have never reached the point where I felt like ending my own life. I grieve for those who are the ones left behind, hurt and confused by their loved ones actions. You can have everything and it still won’t save you. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth. It’s why the celebrity deaths seem more tragic and fill up our news feeds. We followed them on their journey to fame; We were allowed that glimpse into their lives. We felt like we knew them.
I just want you to know that this is the same with our own friends and loved ones. We may be along for the journey, but we are only seeing glimpses.
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Brad Meltzer