(This is the third in a five part series on depression and suicide. This entry focuses on the need to be honest with ourselves and others.)
I’ve already shared my own battle with depression. And I’ve written about the importance of speaking up when we feel someone else is in trouble. But what if YOU are the one struggling and someone reaches out to you?
Action 328 – Talk To Them. I understand that this is far more difficult than it sounds, and I am not making light of it. But it really, truly can be this simple.
We each have friends and other loved ones that notice when we are struggling. And they ask us, sometimes casually and other times much more directly, “are you okay?”
It is our moment to trust our support circle, look them in the eye and say, “no, I’m really not.”
We fear that sort of honesty and candor. I know I did. I worried that they wouldn’t believe how desperate I was feeling. Or worse, they would believe it, and they would never see me the same again. For the rest of our friendship, I would be the guy with the problems, the depressed guy, the drama queen who bitches about everything.
All of those thoughts were ridiculous, of course. First, if any one of my friends had reacted that way, I would know right away that they were never really true friends to begin with and my life was better off without them. Second, my friends would be concerned for me, want to do whatever they could to help me through my tough times, and think nothing bad about me just because I struggled with depression.
The worst thing about dealing with depression is that it feeds on itself. I feel a little down so I hide out from my friends and start to isolate myself. Then, because I’ve been isolating, I feel alone and cut-off from my support network. And the spiral has begun. I feel bad because I am alone, and I want to stay alone because I feel bad.
I cannot say enough how important – critical, even – it is to break that cycle before it gets so bad that there seems to be no way out of the darkness and gloom.
We all have friends. We only doubt that because we let our insecurities take over our thought process. But we are not alone. People care about us and need us in their lives. There will never, ever be another person that can replace you.
So, these friends of yours will ask, “are you okay?” They want to hear the truth. They want to help, and they can’t do that if you aren’t honest with them about what is happening.
Talk to them. Tell them that you hurt, that you feel broken, that at the end of each day you struggle to find a reason to endure another one. Whatever is YOUR truth, that’s what you need to say. Because saying those words aloud to a trusted confidant can help you see that they aren’t your reality. Speaking those horrible things out loud takes the power out of them. It helps you realize that you are dealing with temporary problems and, most importantly, it helps you realize that there IS life beyond the current sorrow and sadness.
I realize this blog is back and forth from first person to third person, and normally, I would make it a point to go back and edit it for continuity. But not this time. Because I’m not perfect, and because the message is more important than the writing style.
I hope that those who really need to hear these words will somehow find them and that they will let other people help them. Friends asked me if I was okay, and telling them the truth was the first step towards being able to say, honestly, “not right now, but I will be.”