My little lemon-scented moist towelettes, you know how I like to keep Frog on a Dime upbeat and encouraging.
Well, this post is intended to be encouraging, but y’all best buckle up because it’s about to get real real. We’re going to talk about depression and suicide.
Hey, hey, hey now. Come back.
This isn’t fun for me either, but it matters because you matter.
(Full transparency: I wrestled with this blog topic for weeks and the more I resisted, the more it insisted.)
So, here we go.
Creative folks in general are known for being angsty. And if we’re pursuing publication, we also ride that Acceptance/Rejection Emo-coaster. But that doesn’t mean all writers or artists are truly depressed. Feeling sad or discouraged periodically only means you’re human. It’s not fun for sure, but it’s not a clinical condition. All the same, many even high functioning, creative people struggle with depression. And sometimes, when it’s allowed to have its way, depressions sucks the very life out of those people.
- Depression is a thief and a liar.
- Depression doesn’t make you cool, dark and mysterious (if that’s what you’re going for). It thwarts your creativity, pollutes your work and evaporates your energy. It’s not an asset. It’s not your muse.
- Depression is not your forever normal. Believe it or not, there was a time when you were not depressed. You may not remember it, and it may be a long time ago, but it’s true. Right now maybe it feels like you’re smothered under a rain-soaked wool blanket. It weighs a ton. But that weight wasn’t always there. You can feel lighter and see the light again because . . .
- Depression is treatable.
- If the first treatment you try doesn’t help, seek other options. I mean, if your first “romantic” experience wasn’t mind-blowing or your first taste of Chicago style pizza didn’t knock your socks off, would you swear off sex or deep dish for the rest of your life? Well, okay then.
- Depression will limit your ability to recognize choices. You always have choices for making things better–with one exception. (Please see the next bullet point.)
- Suicide is NEVER an option. Just take it off the table. Do not devote a second to deliberating the topic. There are many choices open to you–some better than others–but you must consider suicide as permanently an out of stock item. Period.
- You are not your depression. Let me explain it this way: a friend of mine who wore glasses all of her life finally switched to contacts. But then, she felt self-conscious about it. She’d worn glasses for so long, she’d come to think of her glasses as a part of her anatomy, and to have those “removed,” meant she was being fake. What? Uh. Think hard now. Have you ever seen a just-born baby wearing spectacles? That’s silly, you say. Of course not. So, my friend’s glassesless face wasn’t fake–it was her real face. AND you without the weight of depression is the real you. Getting help isn’t cheating, it’s simply a way to get real.
Help is all around you. For starters, consider talking to your primary doctor. She already knows you and could refer you to a counselor in your area. Or talk to a close friend or family member. Open up to your spiritual leader. If this sounds too difficult right now, check out these resources:
If you’ve read this far (and thank you for that) and you’re thinking, I understand this is an important topic, but I’m not dealing with depression: first, be grateful, and two, be aware, you may have depressed people in your life and not recognize it, especially if their symptoms are well-managed and they are high functioning. So, it’s important for all of us to be sensitive about the comments and assumptions we make. It’s easy to unwittingly harm someone who’s already hurting. We can, instead, be an advocate, a shoulder and a safe place.
If you’ve read this far and you know what you know–you are depressed, will you be my hero and seek help? Please. You matter. A lot. The world needs you. Children deserve to have your stories. You deserve to enjoy being the real you.
Phew. We did it–we had “The Talk.” Thank you for letting me share this with you. I think we deserve a cookie. (And next time, let’s talk about how to incorporate more rainbows and unicorn kitten ballerinas into our next novel, okay?)
I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and don’t want anyone else to feel like that. ~ Robin Williams