*I was first diagnosed with depression when I was in college but I can say with some certainty that I have struggled with it for most of my life. In light of recent events and a current battle I am going through, I felt it was important to write this letter.
Dear friends and family,
I often struggle to explain how I am feeling or what I am going through. I sit in silence, my mind racing but my mouth refusing to open. What will they think if I tell them? What will they say? Will they withdraw from me? As a result, a vicious cycle begins and we seem to drift further and further apart.
Other times, I turn into a dragon, my emotions spewing out of me like a raging fire. These bursts that I know inflict pain are not the way I want to express myself. I don’t mean to hurt you.
Neither of those are ideal forms of communicating. So instead, I’ve decided to express some of my thoughts and feelings in this letter.
Depression is debilitating. I am choosing to start here because I think this is where the crux of the problem lies for family and friends of loved ones who have depression. Depression makes me feel completely unmotivated but it is more than me just being “lazy.” I literally feel incapable of doing the simplest things. I know my house is a mess. I know I haven’t responded to your text or invitation. I know I should do something “productive” with my time. I know I haven’t spoken to you in several days, weeks or months. Believe me, I know. I feel these things searing my insides every single day. Unfortunately, the fact that I know does not help me. If anything, it makes me feel more guilty and it causes me to shut down further.
I do not choose to be depressed. If I could make a choice here, I would move as far away from depression as I could. But the reality is, I was born this way. There is no magic formula to help me “snap out of it.” Again, please trust me, I’ve tried.
Depression is a medical condition. And just like if I had diabetes or a hyperactive thyroid, my depression requires constant monitoring by health care professionals and it requires medication. Which leads me to my next point.
I don’t like being on medication. On top of being depressed, every medication I have tried has resulted in unwanted side effects. Racing heartbeat? Check. Unexplained weight gain? Oh yeah. Loss of interest in things? Absolutely. While my medication can help with some aspects of my depression, it does not come without a price. For that reason, there have been times when I’ve tried to “go it alone” or change my dosage. It isn’t pretty. I am currently trying to go from three medications to two and I feel like a shell of myself. But simply knowing this or having other people comment on it does not make me want to go back. Why? Because other areas of my life that I highly value have been compromised. Medication is a catch 22.
I am aware of the burden I put on you. Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, two people who seemed to be the epitome of success, recently died by suicide. This hit the world hard. While I would never claim to know what caused their deaths, there is one thing I would like to say in regards to suicide: It is not a “thoughtless” act. When I have struggled with suicidal thoughts in the past, it has been because I came to the conclusion that my loved ones would be better off without me. Thankfully, I have always been able to get out of this place. But I want you to know- people who are dealing with depression are very much aware of the impact they are having on other people and it breaks our hearts.
I need you to not give up on me. I know I can frustrate you. I know you don’t understand what I am going through. I know you’re upset that I haven’t been social lately. I get it. But I need you. I understand that at times you probably feel like this is a one-sided relationship and you want to throw in the towel, but don’t. I’m here. I’m thinking about you, missing you, wishing I could talk to you. But I can’t always express that and I need, need, need you to reach out. I know it can be tiring and it can feel unfair but when I am at my lowest is when I need you most. Please don’t withdraw.
I pray that things will get better and get better soon, but in the meantime, please just love me and be patient. I love you and I am doing the best I can.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org