I’m going to say something which could seem REALLY controversial, but is REALLY not. Only because it’s a very sensitive subject for some, can this be taken the wrong way. Hint: if you know me well enough (easy enough), you’ll know I’m being honest. If you don’t know me well enough, best not comment and just move on.
This week, the photography industry lost a gorgeous girl to the clutches of severe depression. My heart repeatedly goes out to her friends and (although I don’t know them at all) her family.
There’s a recurring theme I’m seeing: “I just can’t understand how someone could think suicide was the best choice”.
In the same vein: “She just won’t know how much she’ll be missed”.
Both of these circumstances can actually be made a TEEEEEEEEENY TINY fraction easier. I mean, the equivalent of the breadth of half an atom easier. It’s a tiny amount, I know. I understand that.
But you know what? That TEEEEEEEEENY TINY fraction counts. It makes a difference, to someone, somewhere. What do you have to do?
Talk to people if you know they suffer from depression. Read their blog, if they blog. Listen to their words, if they speak to you.
It will probably (definitely) be insanely difficult, and frustrating, and you’ll feel none the wiser. Both you (trying to understand), AND the other person (desperately trying to help you understand). And you have to do it at the right time. And you can’t push to hard. And you have to be quiet and listen. And you have to ask the right questions. And it’s a fucking minefield, one which I often try to explain (and fail, miserably).
But you know what? It’s a start. It’s a step forward. Trying to understand depression will take YEARS. For some, probably many, understanding depression will never ever come. But it absolutely will NOT come if you don’t ask. Or don’t listen. Or don’t talk.
I used to blog loads about the depression I suffered, on skating tantalisingly close to the brink. I wasn’t blogging when I repeatedly went over the edge years ago, and I didn’t talk to anyone. It was taboo, it was awkward, I felt guilty, and as a result of all of that, ironically I just wanted to go. It’s a bizarre world to be in, to want to get better, but to do it via death. And the thing is, whenever someone asked me about it, I was GLAD to talk to them. I didn’t necessarily want them to understand, I just needed someone to have a glimpse into the world I was trying to survive. A vision of the murky fog which pressed on my brain and eyeballs and mouth, day in and day out.
I’ve tried to help numerous people through their own depression, and I suspect I’ve not done very well. But then I have to remind myself that, like I appreciated someone wanting to know more about it through me, I hoped I was able to give some of that back.
I didn’t know the person in question who sadly took her own life this week. I only ever saw her in person once, and she was very very pretty. Gorgeous smile.
She was also bubbly. Lively. Always seemed to be grinning and smiling and laughing.
It’s amazing how well depression can be hidden.
I understand the notion that death is the only remaining solution to fix things. Not only do I understand it, but many times it has made perfect sense to me. Even since having my babies. Ridiculous, eh?
Do me a favour, please. If you know someone who has depression, go and listen to them. Don’t, for the love of god DO NOT tell them to “Oh me too”, or “I totally get it” or “just cheer up” or “keep your chin up” or “smile and things will get better”. Take a step out of that world which is completely fake for the depression sufferer, and step down. Step IN. It’s probably scary as hell; I don’t know. It’s second nature to me. But go and listen to them. Hear what they have to say, or what they want to say. And if they don’t want to say anything? That’s fine too. Sometimes, it’s best. Sometimes, they just need another human soul nearby; no painstaking conversation, no awkward light-hearted chit-chat…just the presence of another human being, nearby. Maybe to share the murky darkness for a while. Maybe to remind them that there’s still a life outside of the shadows. Most of all? Do not judge them. Never judge them. Let them know they are loved. They won’t hear it, and they won’t feel it. But when they are out of the fog, and thoughts are reasonably coherent, and the levels of normality are a little bit higher? They will remember it. They need to understand that they are truly truly loved, in many ways. Let them know how wonderful they are.
Do me a favour, please. If you suffer from depression, find someone. Anyone. If you can’t find someone you trust, find a stranger. Find a mutual friend. Find a distant friend. Find a cat, find a dog, find a goldfish, find a ferret. You don’t have to talk to them, just be near them. Stay close to them so that you remember there IS life outside of that shitty gloom. See them near you and remember that they may be your lifeline to that world you desire to be a part of, but have no energy for right now. Say random stuff. Say coherent stuff. Say anything, ANYTHING that comes to your mind, and don’t be afraid of it. Don’t be afraid to help someone else understand the crazy-yet-normal thoughts in your head. You won’t be judged. You will just have someone who wants to see you through the worst, who wants to hold you up when your mental legs are fucked, who wants to let you know it’s ok to think what you’re thinking.
Every single scenario is different. I don’t know WHY the girl made her choice. I don’t know the circumstances that drove her to it. All I can understand is that, when you’re at rock bottom, taking your own life is most definitely the logical and sensible thing to do.
It’s really really not.
And yet, it is.
And the only way people will understand that, is to just talk, to just talk.
Things are weird. Things are really fucking weird, and I don’t honestly know what to do with myself.
I remember on my previous blog, I used to blog a lot about The Noise. So much noise, so much of it. Everyone had a suggestion on how to make The Noise go away. Meditate, go on holiday, drink rum, play with the kids, watch TV…
None of those work. It’s not that kind of noise.
The Noise is creeping up again, and I know it’s purely because of everything going on at the moment. Things going on which I can’t avoid, can’t stop, can’t step away from, can’t escape, can’t end. This week I’ve read a post from a girl who seemingly boasted that her labour and delivery was worse than someone else’s, someone she didn’t even know. I’ve discovered a friend has been progressively getting more more ill, to discover she has a tumour inside her and is due for surgery soon. I discovered that the partner of someone in the circles within which I work, committed suicide; she suffered from depression. I watched two of my lovely friends snipe at each other, and sat quietly trying not to be piggy in the middle; a difficult one when you relate to both of them, in depth. Another friend announced the end of her marriage and the very difficult situation which now faces her.
Then, there’s my own spectacular list of emotional, mental and physical problems which I’m burying for a while. Why am I burying them? Because I don’t feel like I’m in a place to deal with them.
Today, I read a post dedicated to the girl who took her life. I read the words:
Depression is not some kind of comfort blanket that you need to hold on to. It does not define you.
Ohhhh but sometimes, it is. Sometimes, it does. It feels like that now, this week, lately.
Last week, my mind tantalisingly toyed with the delicious idea of taking a step towards the slippery slope. I have felt bare naked for some time, having not had to deal with a severe depressive “episode”. I’ve been strong, maybe. I’m not sure. Perhaps instead, I’ve just been distracted. I won’t lie; I have genuinely waited for a moment when I could slip, and not feel guilty about it.
Not feel guilty about feeling depressed.
I know why I’m slipping at the moment. I am very much empathic. (Not emphatic, nor sympathetic. Or even empathetic.) I hate that I can do it. But it always happens. So when a stream of sucky shit happens in quick succession, I have no idea what to do.
I got nuthin’.
I don’t know how to deal with it all, as my instinct has always been (and will always be) to try to help. Sometimes I’ll just listen, and become a human sounding board. That’s fine too; I know perfectly well that sometimes, that’s all a person wants. But I reach danger levels when it sits on top of my own stuff, and the noise builds up.
I actually found I was laughing at myself on Sunday. I realised it had been ages since I went through each and every Silent Sunday post, and I wasn’t sure why. I usually visit every single post on the linky. Why have I shown it less love? Because it’s gotten too noisy. Everyone so desperately has a story to tell, and often overlook a situation or environment, so that they can tell it. I loved that I used to have a day of peace, a day when I could let my emotions wash away, and float in a strange sea of dark-but-very-quiet sludge.
I’ve started to miss that sludge.
Everything is so noisy again.
Thing is, depression isn’t a healthy sludge, but it’s a warm sludge. And if you throw yourself in it completely, it’s amazingly quiet. All the noise at the moment, I remember now how it used to build up and why I would then want my blanket. Why I wanted to slip.
The problem is that I’ve been awake, alert, on the ball for such a long stretch of time, I feel stuck either way. Frustrated with the noise and vitality and pain of life, scared of the darkness and danger vice-like grip of the silence. Both of them are still delicious. Both of them are still tempting. But I can’t have them in equal measure. I can’t find a balance.
I don’t know how to do it, nor do I know if it is even possible.
All on the surface is AMAZING AND BRILLIANT.
All underneath is SHIT AND HORRIBLE.
And somewhere, in the middle, I got nuthin’.
It’s a subject which will baffle me to the ends of my days. And it’s also something I wonder if I’m far too fussy about.
See, I know what I want in love, and I know what I don’t want. However, if someone wants something so bad, would they not just take whatever they can get? You would think so. I certainly thought so.
But then I keep proving myself wrong, or being super full of doubt.
I guess what I need or want is for someone to show me the kind of love I can actually relate to, in order to better understand it. Perhaps. For example, I don’t want someone to buy me a million expensive gifts. However I know that for some it’s the only way to express it. I understand that much. But it doesn’t work for me. I want someone to hold my hand, and look at me like I’m the most important thing in the world. I want someone to be by my side, and feel weirdly proud to be there. I want someone with a sense of adventure to rival my own, spurring us on to bigger and better things. I want someone who understands when I’m frustrated, and will talk to me, WE will talk things through, to come to an understanding. I want someone to work with as a team, always helping maintain foundations so that we remain strong.
The thing is, The Mr is great. He’s really lovely. But I’ve changed so much from where I was, to who I am now. The problem is all mine; back then I didn’t actually know who I was, OR what I wanted. Today, I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so sure. What makes all of this hard, is that on realising this, I am now really sad and really lonely. What makes all of this weird, is hearing people say “oh you’re so pretty, you’re so beautiful, you’re so hot, blah blah…” and I don’t believe any of it. Because I constantly ask myself the question “well what the fuck is wrong with me?”
I don’t blame anyone for the position I am in now.
Over the last week or two, I’ve wondered if I’m actually making a huge mistake, and should I just suck it up, deal with it, and go back to trying to make the marriage work. but then I look at all the reasons why I am stepping away from it, and know that I can’t go back to all of that.
I’m sad, I’m lonely, I’m terrified. Will I love again? Will anyone love me again? Will anyone love me the way I want and/or need? Should I give up now? Should I take what I can get? Should I just settle?
There’s a great big adventure for me out there, with The Smalls in tow, too. They won’t be there every step of the way, because, well, they will be with their dad from time to time. I’m not fighting for them, because I don’t need to. We’re agreed on how they will spend their time with each parent. But even there, is something that makes me wonder. Am I still loveable? Will anyone fall IN love with me, DESPITE being a Single Mom Of Two? Am I seen as damaged goods now? Is that even still stigma, like it was when I was a kid, or is that the norm now?
I don’t have many friends, and I’m not entirely sure why. People all over the place ask me to make sure I stay in touch, or send me messages, or whatever. And yet, I struggle to stay connected with them. Doubt sets in, I question silences (mine and theirs) in my mind, and become exhausted with it all so quickly. I don’t have a “bestie from school days”, I don’t have “an old mate whom I’ve known since I was 3″. There are the few friends who I speak to, whom I do love dearly. But why is it so hard to maintain? Why do I feel so shitty when it comes to wanting to reach out to them?
Right now, all I want to do is call someone, anyone, and say “you know what? I feel like shit. Please can you just listen to me rant, just for a little bit, and then I’ll shut up and go away? I might cry a bit, but I promise I won’t keep you for long.”
The stupidest thing is to sit here whining and complaining about feeling unloved, but not actually doing anything about it.
I actually feel kind of trapped by that, because there’s clearly something stupid going on in my brain. Something is misfiring, and I think I know what (childhood issues) but I’ll be farked if I know what to do about it.
I hate feeling this level of lonely, given how much of a social butterfly I can be. Maybe that’s my problem; maybe I need to stop flying. Maybe I just need to settle in one place, stop moving and hope something develops. The thing is, I don’t have much patience for hanging around. I also don’t feel I can watch the rest of the world go by, whilst I “wait for something to happen, whatever that something might be.
When I love people, I love them fiercely. I love them A LOT. It’s safe to say that, if you’ve ever been caught up in my love radar, you will know it straight away. You might not believe it, and you will most likely be scared of it. But you’ll know it. And I understand the different kinds of love I’ve fired out at people, too. It’s all a bit Love, Actually; sometimes it’s a friend, sometimes it’s for want of a lover, sometimes it’s for a soul mate, sometimes it’s for a person I just want to be with, sometimes it’s one of many others. I understand them all, having experience all of them at some point, to varying degrees.
I sometimes wish I hadn’t.
I feel sometimes I perhaps scare people away. In an age where people live on distance and communicate only by technology, I would imagine I scare people away quite easily. Is it me? Is it my personality? Am I too much to hang around with? Can you not deal with being around me?
I had a conversation ages ago about being friends with men who feel they need to keep me hush-hush. I found that weird and hard to deal with. I have/had friendships where I’m not allowed to message at a certain time, or can only talk on the phone at certain times, or if we meet for lunch/dinner/a pint, I’m not allowed to mention it. Under the assumption that I’m out to steal them? I don’t know. I asked one friend and he said it was most likely because his girlfriend would be jealous. Even though I have no interest in anything more than a friendship. So again, I ask myself, what the fuck am I doing wrong? Why is it so hard to find someone to love me as a friend without feeling fear? Forget trying to find someone who could love me as a partner, because that seems to be crazy talk in any case?
I’m going round in circles now, not even understanding my own thoughts. Not understanding where I am at with it all, or where I’m supposed to be going.
All I know is that I want to find someone I can match/someone who can match me. Friend, lover, life partner – I don’t even care now. I just want someone who can understand me, in order for me to be able to be myself, and return whatever is given. I have a lot to give. I have so much love to give. So very much. And yet, it always seems to fall on people who throw me away, or can’t accept it, or don’t want to know.
I doesn’t get easier, it gets different. I guess.