May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And I have depression. It’s scary, and it sucks, and I hate it sometimes. I have depression. And now you’re aware.
I am on three anti-depressants. One more time for the people in the back? Three. And that’s really weird for most people. So, I make light of it. I make jokes. I use humor so I don’t have to hear the audible gasp when someone realizes that, God forbid, I’m on prescription medication to get myself out of bed in the morning. A diabetic doesn’t produce enough insulin, so he medicates himself in order to survive. I don’t produce enough serotonin. I medicate myself in order to survive. Wild, right? But not everyone gets that. Not everyone understands that, yes, I do need my Prozac. That happiness is not always a choice. For a depressed person, it’s not even a remote possibility. Not even a thought. No, in the midst of this devastatingly short and fiercely beautiful life, you find yourself utterly and unfathomably exhausted. And I cannot begin to tell you how unnerving it is—how bitterly, unbearably unnerving it is—to feel nothing. To feel nothing. Nothing at all.
I’m doing pretty damn well right now. I have a job, an apartment, friends, family, the whole deal. I’m, dare I say it, happy much of the time. But it hasn’t always been this way. And it won’t always be this way. Because I have depression. And it never goes away.
A lot of people don’t get that one either. They don’t understand that depression doesn’t simply go away. It’s always there; sometimes it’s just in remission. Even when you’re okay. Even when you’re totally fine. Even when you’re happy. You carry it with you as you carry a watch on your wrist—unconsciously, almost entirely. And then once in a while, it catches the light in a certain way, and it’s all your eyes can see. For a brief moment, the reflection of the watch—the ever-lingering pain—blinds you. And in that moment, nothing is more consuming than that pain. That excruciating, blinding pain.
As enjoyable as it sounds to divulge all of this lighthearted personal information, I’m not just telling you for shits and giggles and fun. I’m telling you because I can. I’m at a point where I can talk about it. But some of us aren’t. Most of us aren’t. Most of us can’t talk about it because we’re scared. We’re scared, and it sucks, and we hate it.
So, this is for the boy out there who can’t make it to his next class because he can’t yet make it out of the house. For the girl trying to rationalize making it all stop for good. For you guys. For us. Stay. When it hurts too much. When you feel too much. Stay. When the pain is so overwhelming that you can’t breathe. Stay.
When you feel nothing. Nothing at all.
It’s going to take everything you have. It’s going to take everything you are. And I know you don’t think you have enough. That you are enough. But you are. I promise you. I promise you are enough.
It’s going to take time. And, let me tell you, time is a deceitful prick. It’s going to take people. You’re going to need people. It’s going to take work. A lot of it.
But it’s going to be okay.
And always, always remember: there’s no shame in being broken. Help is real. Hope is real. Tomorrow is real. And you’re going to be okay. I promise. You are going to be okay.
We are going to be okay.