Trigger Warning: This article contains several references to self-harm that may be disturbing to some readers.
Everyone feels down sometimes, but for some it can reach a terrifying level.
When I was 23, I gave up on trying to fight my sadness and tried to end my life. “What is the point?” was my catchphrase at the time. During every action, every day I had that phrase repeating in my head. The world becomes a dull, dreary place when every movement and interaction is internally questioned.
The most fun conversations to have are when a person with depression tries to communicate how they feel. So often, these interactions are met with either the “one up,” where someone tells you how bad they have had it or the “you are probably just sad today,” when someone discredits your entire experience.
Neither of those options are helpful, since it’s already so hard for a person with depression to reach out and talk about what they’re experiencing and these responses draw the conversation away from the person seeking help.
When I was younger, I did not want to be another sad, depressed teen and so I promised myself to give it time — to see if I could ever get over the way I felt. When I turned 23, I decided it was time to leave my daily dilemma behind.
My suicide attempt was stopped by my best friend. He said nothing in the moment— what could he have said? He eventually just asked me to play video games with him and we spent the entire night doing what we enjoyed together. That’s what someone who feels hopelessness in life needs: someone to care enough to do anything for them. Someone to give them time, space and care.
Depression makes it hard to understand what feelings are “normal.” Whenever I interact with others beyond a greeting, I will dissect and repeat the conversation in my head over the next hour.
Every perceived failure impacts all my other plans and leaves me paralyzed. It is impossible to feel like a good person when you’re plagued by self-doubt and constant analysis. Everything I do, I wonder: “Did I do that just to seem nice?”
The best way to define depression from my perspective would be to call it a handicap. Nothing can be done without extra effort and the simplest road blocks can make everything infinitely harder. If these challenges can be surmounted, maybe it’s character-building— “forged in fire,” but up until that point, you’re just on fire.
The best—the only—option I have found for powering through these issues is to truly never give up. Depression is not something that you can hide from or fix easily.
Each day, I walk out of my house with a smile so that I can at the least look the part. I have great friends, family and a wonderful partner that keep me grounded and make life worth it.
The best advice I could give that has helped me is to never say no to an opportunity. The thought of things going wrong is terrifying, but don’t let it cripple you. I have found I gain more joy than sadness from doing activities I’m hesitant to participate in.
Depression is brutal, but from someone who had the chance to end it, I absolutely would have regretted missing everything I have experienced since.
Jacob Collier can be reached at [email protected]