Friday, April 12, 2013

Depression - The Struggle to Get Out of the Woods

This week I had to take a survey about Suicide Prevention as part of my training for my tutoring job, because I work directly with the student population, and  need to be able to recognize the symptoms and actions of someone who feels suicidal or is severely depressed. I have a pretty good grasp on that, because for a period of my life, I was, and in some ways still am, one of those people.

Depression is a topic that has been receiving more attention as of late. It has become seen as less of a "lack of strength/will" and more of a public knowledge issue. However it is still very hard for people to admit they have it. I have never had an issue admitting my issues. I have Clinical Depression. This admission often shocks the people around me, provided they don't know me that well. My friends are all aware that I'm medicated for both ADD and Depression. When I tell someone for the first time that I have Depression, the most common response I get to this admission is "No you don't." Which I find amusing to almost no end. Sometimes that response makes me wonder if I'm just that good at faking it. (I'm pretty sure I'm not.) But I do understand why people who don't really know me have a hard time believing I am clinically depressed. I often smile at strangers, crack jokes, make fun of myself, and generally have a seemingly positive outlook on life in general. I mean, I'm LOUD (my friends will confirm this without having to even think about it), in your face, unabashed, utterly unashamed of myself, and I grab every second I can and I am determined to have fun with those seconds. Because I can dammit!

The day of the senior picnic at my high school...
My last day of High School. And I enjoyed the hell out of it!
Despite the fact that internally I was flipping out because all of my friends
were going off to different schools and I was staying home
and commuting to school, and everything I was used to would be changing,
and maybe my friends would forget me and omg....
 But the fact of the matter is that I do have depression. It's something I deal with every single day. I am medicated for it, which helps a lot. It's no longer a battle every single day. But there are days where I do struggle. Medication helps, don't get me wrong, but it isn't a magic cure. I've struggled with suicide in the past, and even attempted to kill myself once, but I've gotten through thanks to the support of my loved ones.

Many people with depression say it's a darkness inside themselves, or that it's like a pit they fall into. It's not cute like they make it out to be in those commercials where the little black blob follows the cartoon lady around turning from a raincloud to a hole in the sidewalk. For many people it is a deep dark hole that sometimes they cannot crawl out of. For me, it's not a hole, although it is a dark and scary place. For me, Depression is pretty well summed up by this image.
What Depression feels like for Me.
Yep. A Disney Movie has a scene in it that pretty perfectly captures my depression episodes. For me depression is like those trees. Reaching for me all the time, however I'm able to keep out of their evil branchy grasp.... Until I'm not. And that's when I get sucked into my dark place.  And more often than not it's something little and stupid that sends me running headlong from this :
However if I were singing like Snow White is doing in this picture,
the animals would be fleeing for their lives...
I, to quote my mother, "can't carry a tune in a bucket."
To this:
I know it sucks Snow. Sometimes you fight and fight to get out,
but the trees just grab you and pull you back in. And it sucks.
And sometimes I'm able to untangle my dress from the clutch of the trees and make a dash for the forest's edge... and more often than not, I'm successful at getting away. But sometimes I'm not and the trees reach out and grab me again. And I end up spending far too much time in the dark forest.

When my depression is at it's worst I feel like this, terrified, and alone,
being reached for by some horrible monster wanting to consume me whole.
But I always know I have people around me who love me and would miss me if I were to do the horrible things the trees whisper to me as the wind blows. I force myself to get out of bed on the days when it's at it's worst, because if I don't then the trees win. I force myself out of bed and make myself do something that day, because if i don't then the depression wins. If I'm able to accomplish one thing that matters to me that day, then it means that I matter, that I make a difference, and the lies and hate spewed from the darkness are just that, lies. And I make myself remember that when I come out the other side of the forest, because I will get out, come hell or high water, I'm going to turn around and look at what sent me into the forest in the first place, and go:
What the crap? They're just some friggin branches...
Give me my dress back before you rip it! Paws off the cape pal!
That's what gets me through my days bad days. Knowing that on the other side I'm going to be able to realize that the things that send me running are just sticks and twigs. And they're going to break before I do. Because I have things in my life to live for, and I have goals, and people who love me.
If you are stuck in your personal forest, or whatever your depression manifests as to you, remember, there are people that love you and want to help you. Hell, I love you and want to help you, and we haven't ever spoken to each other most likely.

Suicide is not the answer. I know. I tried it, and have the scar to show for it. In the 7 years since my attempt it has faded significantly and healed very well, it's now just a pale spot on the inside of my right wrist that is only truly noticeable when I get a tan. I'm not ashamed of it however. It's a part of my life. One of the dumbest parts of my life, I admit, but I am not ashamed of it. I am disappointed in myself for attempting to kill myself, no question about it, but I am not ashamed of the scar. It reminds me every time I look at it that I am stronger than the depression. That I am capable of saving myself, and that I am better than the trees whisper that I am. And so are you.

Don't let the lies the trees whisper get to you. They're lies. Plain and simple. And you are better than lies. If you feel hopeless and like you have no where to turn, that isn't true. there are many places. If you can't talk to your family or friends about how you feel, call a hotline. And if you are unaware of the signs and symptoms, I encourage you to learn up.

A bit of information:

  1. Mental health issues can affect everyone, without regard for sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. It's estimated that about 1 in 4 people in the U.S. have a mental health condition in any given year.
  2. Gay, lesbian and bisexual teens are five times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.
  3. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among people ages 10-24 years, including college students. 

Suicide IS preventable. Someone may be suicidal if s/he:
• Expresses depression, anxiety, stress, & feelings of hopelessness
• Has increased conflicts with or aggression toward others
• Talks or writes about death & dying, killing oneself, or ending it all
• Starts giving away possessions or tying up loose ends
• Withdraws from family, friends, & activities once enjoyed
• Increases use of alcohol/drugs or engages in reckless behaviors
• Gains access to guns, pills, knives, etc


National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK
Available 24/7

Common Ground: 248-456-0909, 800-231-9100
Available 24/7

Affirmations (GLBTQ Support): 1-800-398-GAYS
Available Mon-Sat, 3pm-9pm

And there are many, many more that are community based.

Peace, Love and LIFE

No comments:

Post a Comment