After sharing my struggle with depression, and the 3-days that hit harder than I’d ever experienced before (or since), emails, comments, and texts came pouring in. People in Kenya, Cameroon, Philippines, and across the United States shared their story with me. I couldn’t believe it. So many people in my life battle the same thing or worse, and I had no idea.
I only knew the smiling face. Their since-we-met history.
I had no idea that someone I look up to tried to commit suicide in high school, and still has to push down dark thoughts. They wrote, “There are still times when the depression hits, when I don’t want to get out of bed, when I don’t want to talk to ANYBODY, and I don’t understand the point of it all…I am so So very proud of you for putting a voice to this.”
I had no idea that one of my teachers struggles with “the tunnel of expectations,” which can trigger depression. To me she was always like Supergirl. Confident and unstoppable.
After this experience I learned that every person, even the happy, invincible ones, get knocked down. Even though it’s easy to think of stranger as someone I have nothing in common with, every single one of us has had a rain-cloud mindset. That’s what I’m calling it now. Depression sounds like something that never lets up, but for me it comes more like rain.
Some days it rains hard, and some days there’s not a cloud in sight. It’s my hope that the next time I get drenched I can remember that the rain will break and the sun will peek through again.
Maaaany people asked me, “How could you let yourself get so low? Don’t you know your life matters?” or “Don’t you know what it’d do to me if you died?” Things like that. And yes, of course I know those things, but when you turn out the lights it’s impossible to see why those things matter.
I know that’s difficult to accept, and I’m sorry, but when I was depressed, drowning under a rain-cloud mindset, thinking about how someone else would feel if I died didn’t make a dent. I thought of everyone I love, how they’d feel with me gone, the tears and the hole that never heals, but I didn’t feel like dying any less.
Some may understand that (those who have also been through something like this). But for others, thinking like that is unthinkable, and I hope it always stays that way for them.
Among the sympathy I also received concern. My boyfriend and just about every family member asked if I needed to go on medication. But I wasn’t surprised. I knew that openly sharing about this attack would raise a lot of red flags around me.
“It woke us up…I guess we need to be nicer to you,” one person said over the phone.
“We should be nicer to everyone,” I replied, and I’m pretty proud of that.
Others said it was a beautiful article, very well written, but they also wondered how it might look to future employers. “You should consider taking it down.” And I did think about it, but I left it up for one reason.
IT helped someone.
“Just let it help one person,” I prayed when I shared the story on Facebook. And over the next 2 days an overwhelming number of comments came in, but one of the ones that made the decision final came from a friend from college. We’re close, but not super close. I’m so grateful she openly shared that she was struggling right now and said, “reading this helped remind me to just keep going and to never stop fighting.”
That’s why I’ll kept it up. That’s why I’ll keep this whole site up for as long as I can afford to.
I can already see small ways I changed after this experience. I do my best to stop any negative thoughts about my ex before they burn out of control. When a small voice whispers no one likes you, you’re worthless, it’s too much…I ask “Do I really believe that?” And I’m usually able to kick out the thoughts, pull the weeds before they sprout.
(I just bought a #NotTodaySatan floral pin)
But someday I’ll fail, and I’ll need to reach out again. Talking about our low points in life is scary. It’s admitting weakness. Admitting that I became overwhelmed by everyday life—something we believe everyone else handles perfectly. People will think you’re talking about it for attention, or they’ll pull away because of “drama”.
But some will stay, and some people will be better because you broke through the bright yellow caution-do-not-talk-about-this tape.
Although it’s tempting to hide things like this—bury them in the sand and sing Baby Shark loud enough to drown any reminders because we want to be perfect, we want to be happy—what this world needs most of all is for everyone to be real.