Why I Need to Write This

I almost wrote this post this morning, but I wasn’t brave enough.  Also, focusing on the positive is good for me, so I wanted to do a bit of that to start my week.

And then I found out that today is Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day, and I felt like I needed to write this.  I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but never really wanted to actually sit down and write it.

About a week and a half ago, my roommate texted me and told me that the elderly woman living next door had shot herself.  The cops were on our street and everything was blocked off.  We’ve never really seen anyone going in or out of that house, so we didn’t know the people living there, but it’s still a sad and horrible thing.

We were talking about it last night and my other roommate was being really callous about it.  She was joking about how she thinks the woman was a shut-in being held captive against her will, although my other roommate thought she was probably just depressed.  The first one just kept going on and on about how she just doesn’t get suicide and it’s such a selfish thing to do and people should just think about how it will affect those around them and not do it.

I exchanged a glance with my other roommate (who has a history in psychology) and left the conversation to go back to my room.  Because here’s the thing: I do not have suicidal thoughts, but I do have depression, so I kind of get it.  I understand how someone can feel completely hopeless and be absolutely incapable of thinking about anything else.  How even though you can repeat to yourself things you know are true, you can’t force yourself to feel them.

Our emotions lie.  And as Jenny Lawson says, depression lies.  It tells you that you are worthless, that you can never change, that there’s no point in even trying.  It tells you that you will fail every time and that everything you touch will wither and die.

It’s been a long time since I talked openly about depression on my blog.  In fact, I’m not sure that I ever really have.  People who know me in real life can read between the lines, but I generally try to stay positive on here.

Which is a big part of why I didn’t update the past couple of weeks or much at all last year.  I have been too busy fighting a war against the lies in my head.  The past two weeks were mild, triggered by not feeling well and then reading posts about depression that are meant to encourage (I didn’t realize reading about other people’s struggle was a trigger for me, but boy, do I know now).  It was mild enough that work could distract me, but the weekends were bad.  I was able to make some good choices and I’m feeling like I’m almost out of the woods.

But when I talk about last school year being hard, I don’t just mean that I was busy and stressed.  I mean that almost every day was a battle.  You know how most people have to force themselves to go to the gym, or eat kale, or other things they know are good for them, but don’t particularly like? I was having to force myself to do things I normally enjoyed, like going to church and talking to people.

For a while I ignored it and hoped it would go away.  And then I tried to power through it and force myself to do and think positive things.  And then I admitted to myself that it wasn’t working.  And then I admitted to my small group that it wasn’t working.  And then I got help.

I have been seeing a therapist again since January.  I’m pretty open about that fact with the people in my day-to-day life; less so with people who don’t see me on a regular basis.  You see, I don’t want to lose the good reputation I (hope I) have in those people’s minds. Or I don’t want people constantly asking me how I am in the super-pitying voice they seem to use.  Or I just don’t think it’s their business.

Our culture doesn’t commend people for asking for help.  In fact, it isolates and shames those who need help the most, which is absolutely tragic.  There is nothing worse than hearing subconscious messages from society that confirm the lies depression is already telling you – that you have done something wrong, that it is all your fault, that you are weak for not being able to be OK on your own.

Except it is estimated that 1 in 4 adults suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.  1 in 4. 1/4. A quarter of the adult population. But we insist that they should hide and be ashamed and not be a Debbie Downer by talking about it.

But we need to talk about it.  Talking about it is how we know we are not alone. It’s how we know that we do not need to be ashamed, that we are not broken (at least no more than the people around us), that we are not beyond hope.  Talking about it is how we begin to heal and hopefully how we help others gain the courage they need to ask for help.

So this is me talking about it.  Depression lies, but there is hope.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  All you need to do is ask for help.

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6 Comments

  1. You’re beautifully brave. Well written sweet lady. I agree, I think asking for help should be looked at as stronger. I went to counseling my freshman year of college to figure things out with my dad. Hang in there. There are people that care and love that you can speak your mind.

    Reply
  2. Joel Altsman

     /  September 10, 2012

    Good job – and VERY brave. I’m proud of you. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  3. Gaynelle

     /  September 10, 2012

    Great post Rachel, proud of you. I, too, have been dealing with depression for several years and it is tough. Some days good, some days bad. But I have also been very open about it too. It’s easy for the world to speak positive about mental health issues and that it’s an illness but hardly anyone speaks about it personally. I deal with depression daily, like someone else deals with diabetes. It’s tough, but so much easier if you can talk about it. Call me any time you need to have a friendly ear. Love you!! Gaynelle

    Reply
  4. Becca

     /  September 11, 2012

    good job, Rach!

    Reply
  5. I read nothing negative in this at all, I read all kinds of vulnerability and transparency. Bravo! Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

     /  October 10, 2012

    Awesome rach!! Hopefully things keep looking up….i just know you are an awesome teacher and you will be truly blessed for your hard work. GOOD LUCK!!!

    Reply

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  • A collection of ramblings and musings on Jesus, life, education, family, and anything else that pops into my head.

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