You Don’t Earn Your Depression

The other day, I came across an article on Odyssey called “You Don’t Need A Reason For Your Depression, It’s Still Valid if Your Life is Technically ‘Good’“and it really got me thinking about a conversation I had with someone recently.

I was talking to a friend about how hard things have been and how badly I wished I wasn’t here. I vented about everything because I felt like I was talking to someone I could trust… someone who would help. Instead, I got the grand old “there are people who have it worse than you” lecture.

And in that moment, I felt disappointment and guilt. Disappointment because that wasn’t at all what I wanted or expected to hear. It was like I was reaching for help but they were stepping on my fingers. Guilt because now I felt terrible for taking everything I had for granted. Even guilt for speaking up about how I was feeling.

I spent a few days feeling awful about feeling awful.

Now I’m finally realizing how wrong that is. I mean, I always thought it was messed up for someone to say you’re not allowed to be upset because people have it worse than you. It’s like saying you can’t be happy because someone has it better than you. But something about the way it had been said to me that night was so manipulative that I was immediately convinced it was the truth.

My poor brain was doing flips. I kept shaming myself for overthinking or feeling pain. Any time I was sad, I told myself I was wrong. It added another layer of problems for me. It was like trying to put out a fire with more fire.

If you’re ever told that you shouldn’t be reacting a certain way because “someone else has it worse than you,” or “someone else would kill to be in the position you’re in,” know that your feelings are valid. It is not your job to base your pain on the pain of others. It is not your job to turn off your feelings at the flip of a switch because someone says you shouldn’t feel that way.

I hate what this person said to me. I hate this person’s mindset. But I don’t hate this person. I actually love them a lot. So, as you can imagine, it really hurts me that I can no longer feel comfortable talking to them about my struggles.

I didn’t want to write about this at first because I was afraid it would cause problems with the person who said it, but at the end of the day it needed to be said. Someone else might need to hear this. I hope the person who said this to me reads this. Let’s be honest, they’re probably going through some shit too.

Please, reach out to your friends. Make sure they’re ok. It isn’t easy to ask someone for help. By showing that interest yourself, it invites and reassures them.

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

1-800-273-8255

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I Walked to End Suicide.

Earlier today I joined family, friends, and members of my community in walking to end the stigma around mental health and reduce the suicide rate by 25% by 2025. Roughly 1600 people were in attendance in Cleveland as we heard stories from survivors and families of those who lost their battle.

Suicide has impacted my life in so many different ways and I felt that this year I was ready to attend a walk and expose myself to others who come from similar experiences. When we arrived, I was amazed. I didn’t expect to feel so much overwhelming support and solidarity from everyone there.

Prior to walk day, those registered (and even some who had not registered) collected donations for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Together, we raised over $146,000 which was more than our targeted amount for the walk! One team alone collected $8,000 in donations!

At the walk, participants wore different colored beaded necklaces to represent why they walked. I did not originally plan on representing myself at this walk, but after walking around and seeing others doing the same, I gathered the courage to don a green beaded necklace. This symbolized my personal struggle with suicidal thoughts and mental health. I’m not one who likes to broadcast my struggles- especially in a society where it’s taken as a plea for attention. However, today felt like a day where I could be open about my struggles with mental health and not be judged or ashamed.

My team and I also sported buttons with the names of those we walked for. I was proud to carry the names of my loved ones close to my heart as I walked. Writing the several names down on the buttons and seeing the different names each person had on theirs was chilling. It was hard to process that so many people know of more than one person who lost their life to suicide.

Before we began walking throughout Cleveland, we heard the story of a widow who had lost her husband only a few short years ago. She talked about the time leading up to her husband’s passing as well as her adjustment afterward. Hearing her story was sobering.

I can list several people whose lives crossed paths with mine that have taken their own lives- friends, relatives, classmates, members of my community. It’s a painful reality that we are hoping to change each and every day.

Today I walked for those I knew.

Today I walked for myself.

Today I walked for anybody who needed or needs help getting out of the darkness.

I look forward to doing this walk again in the future and sharing more memories with the community of survivors and loved ones of those who have passed on.

I am still collecting donations to go toward the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention! If you would like to donate, click here!