Recently I had lunch with a friend. She was being really hard on herself because she has been feeling sad and depressed. Her mind tells her that she is being a baby and needs to toughen up. She owns her home, she is financially stable, she has friends and family. What does she have to be down about?
But this is not how a depressed mind works. A depressed mind lies to you and tells you that the best option for you is for you to stay in the bed all day, or not apply for that job, or worse, that you no longer need to be on this Earth. I am a therapist and even though I have lots of training on how not to be or act depressed, even I still find myself feeling depressed sometimes.
This week we lost tWitch, an entertainer that was adored and well-liked by many. He seemed to have it all, always with an electric smile, but we never really know someone’s battle. We do not hear the words that the depressed mind tells them. We only see the electric smile that covers it all up because we feel we are being ungrateful if we don’t push through and show the world we are okay. Most people who we know who have died of suicide have taken us by surprise. I believe that these are the people who work harder to make sure that the rest of us are okay.
You just cannot look at someone ever and tell what they need from the way they look or a surface conversation. My friend I mentioned earlier, has every right to feel down. And so do you. And so do I. (I mean… I hope you are not, but if you are- do not beat yourself up about it.) You are not being ungrateful. You are a human being with many many many complex layers. Layers that cannot always be explained or understood. Layers, we sometimes don’t even know exist. It is those layers that echo in our minds and whisper in your ear, “the world would be better off without you”.
I hope you know that is not true. It is the farthest thing from the truth. You were meant to be here. Talk about it. Get help. Go to a therapist. Go to group therapy so you can hear the stories from others and know you are not alone. Schedule time doing things for yourself and others that make you feel good and do all of these things before you think you need to, because it is in all that “pre”-work that we are addressing those unknown layers and therefore, we will be better prepared when that wave hits.
One of my favorite books is Memoir of a Geisha. It is a good book because it is written with a lot of detail and description that often felt poetic to me. I read it right after my mom passed away and this excerpt has stayed with me all these years later:
“Grief is a most peculiar thing; we’re so helpless in the face of it. It’s like a window that will simply open of its own accord. The room grows cold, and we can do nothing but shiver. ”
Grief is just like that. It comes out of nowhere and it can feel as big and punishing as a wave from the ocean. Talking about the words in your mind are like learning how to swim. The time to learn how to swim is not when the wave hits, but when the water is calm and you are able to exist in the water thinking you need no help.
I teach this so well because it has also been a part of my own personal struggle. I have my own lies in my head and I work hard to learn how to swim, even though I can teach others how to swim pretty well. On top of that, man, it’s been a really tumultuous few years. We are all feeling the effects in ways we are only now beginning to learn. You are not alone. You are not crazy. You are not weak or ungrateful. You are a beautiful and complex multilayered individual who was destined to be here.
Work on developing a circle of people you can trust. Find your passion. Help one another. Often, through helping others I help myself. Talk to your children. Don’t shield them from knowing that grief exists and how it affects us. We are all connected. The world needs you. Get help by calling 988 so you can be connected to someone locally. I am sending you love and light, and prayers that we will take care of each other.