**Trigger warning: this post talks about depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicidal ideation**
NOTE: If you’re looking at this post, please I encourage you to scroll to the bottom of this post if you don’t have time to read it all and read the notes I’m going to leave at the end of this post 🙂 So many people appreciate your time.
It seems almost perfect that I would return back to this long left abandoned blog on today of all days, as it is World Suicide Prevention Day.
I didn’t know this, until I was scrolling on my Instagram, and I saw a YouTube influencer I follow posting about his friend. His friend was always open with his fight with depression and suicidal thoughts. He’d even founded an organization to help others struggling with the same darkness. He was a husband and a father. He was a good friend to those all around him. He was a devout follow of Jesus Christ, and a pastor at a church and according to the Instagram post, last night, this man took his own life.
I didn’t know this man, but I do like to keep up with the Youtuber who made the initial post. He himself is a Christian. I was morbidly curious to see how a Christian would react to the suicide of a friend, in a community where suicide can be felt to be “sinful” and “destined to get one locked in Hell for an Eternity”. If a man can stand in front of a congregation every Sunday, preaching that in Matthew 19:26, “With God, all things are possible,” how could he not just “push through it because God is always with us, and shouldn’t we be immune to the torture that is mental illness? Shouldn’t we have the faith to understand how things will get better?
This made me realize that depression and suicidal thoughts and actions truly doesn’t discriminate. Christianity can’t make someone not feel so lost and alone that they won’t hurt themselves, if they feel it is the only out. Having “a lot of money” or “the perfect marriage or boyfriend or girlfriend” won’t keep these thoughts at bay. Depression is sneaky, and it knows you so much deeper than even your best friend does. It knows exactly how to convince you that nothing in the world will ever be okay again. I know this pain, this confusion of never feeling like I’m doing what God wants from me, because I’m 20 years old, I’m a Christian, and I have depression and anxiety.
It’s hard typing those words because I’m afraid of what other people are going to think of me after they read that. I’ve heard it all, ‘Oh they’re just moody’ or, ‘It’s a phase’. I’ve heard the words “My life is great, and other people have it so much worse, so I don’t deserve to go get help,” come out of the mouths of people I care so deeply about. For me, I’ve googled more than once “Is it wrong for a Christian to be on antidepressants?” because ‘Why can’t I just lean on God to get rid of these problems?’. I was so concerned about what God would think of me for being on antidepressants that I didn’t want them, and even when I did start taking them, thanks to the constant love from my mother, I didn’t tell most people. I felt like a ‘bad Christian’.
I don’t have this all figured out, and I know many people have opinions on this topic, but I do know how I felt once I found the right medicine for me. I’ve been on both Lexapro and Prozac, and at one time, both at once. Lexapro stopped working after about a year, and the signs were all there. I was getting tired again, all the time. I was irritated, unable to focus on any of my school work, and I didn’t want to take care of myself.
There’s a misconception that depression looks only like one solitary thing. That people who are depressed are unable to smile. That they never crack jokes, or they don’t want to hang out with people anymore. While this is the case for some people, it doesn’t paint a universal picture for everyone with depression, or even poor mental health in general. Some people will overwork themselves. They’ll stay up at all hours of the night working on projects in an effort to avoid shutting their brain off, or they may feel unable to even sleep at all. Some people sleep too much. Some people will increase their level of socialization, ensuring they’re never alone because being alone for a person in a depressive episode is an all consuming blackness. They’ll cling to certain people in an effort to feel anything but depressed.
Depression isn’t sadness, it’s numbness.
It’s an all consuming feeling that nothing in your life will ever be bright again. It’s complete isolation, and it is a prison.
It is also a mental disorder that affects more than 300 million people worldwide, according to World Health Organization. Yes, it is a disorder, yes it can be diagnosed, not just “guessed at”, and it is treatable. Doctors can and will help you, if you reach out.
So, if depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide, why are there an average of 129 suicides per day, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in just the US alone? And why is this statistic is seen to be exponentially higher in men?
Because depression and mental health isn’t normalized. And I don’t mean normalized as in we need to make it so that one day it’ll be normal for everyone to have depression and anxiety, but beginning today, we need to fight harder for those who do have it to be able to talk about it. We need to make depression and anxiety a “people thing,” not a “woman’s issue”. We need to make it so that logging onto social media doesn’t flood us with memorial posts for people who were taken way too early from those who love them. We need to make it normal and accepted that the same people who would go to the doctor for a broken bone or strep throat can feel validated for walking into that same office and telling someone “my brain is sick”.
Depression is a chemical imbalance. Anxiety is a misfiring of neurons and warning signals in the brain. If people could see the physical symptoms of depression, I’d dare to say that more people would be willing to get treatment.
I’m a great example of this.
I’ve had over 30 surgeries in my life because I have Spina Bifida, a physical condition that requires treatment and maintenance in order for me to live a normalized life. If a doctor looks at me and tells me I need surgery to fix something, I don’t often have to think too hard about whether or not I’m going to get it treated. However, in the years I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety, not once did I willingly feel like talking to someone about it. The first time it hit me the worst was in 8th grade, when I could barely get out of bed for school, I couldn’t focus on much of anything, and I couldn’t eat lunch in a lunchroom because everything in my head was already too loud. I had all the symptoms of someone with depression but I refused telling anyone until I was forced into the guidance counselors office because my grades were drastically dropping. Another symptom.
I got better for a long time, until last year when it hit me all over again. The same numbness, the same lack of interest in everything and no energy to do anything. I told myself I was just being ‘lazy’. That I knew I was sad, but I could push through it. I couldn’t possibly bother anyone with my drama. The realization that this was more than just drama hit me like a ton of bricks one morning when I woke up, and I couldn’t feel my hands. I couldn’t move my hands or my arms and I was hyperventilating directly out of sleep. I wasn’t okay, and I had to be okay with accepting the help I needed.
No one wants to think that they’re depressed. I surely never thought I would be that kid who nearly didn’t go to high school because of my mental health. I didn’t think I would be that kid who would drag my mother into a doctors office, sobbing and unable to breathe as she stood up for me to try yet another anti-depressant.
No one thinks it could be them, until it is.
No one expects it to be the smiley, friendly boy who everyone loves, until depression and other issues nearly consume him. No one thinks it’s the pretty, popular and athletic girl from high school until she finally admits she hasn’t eaten enough in more than a few days because “she’s just not hungry” or is “just too tired.” People will smile so much quicker than they will stop and admit “Hey, I think I have a mental health concern” because in so many different communities, mental health and depression are not normalized.
So, here I am. I’m 20 years old, I’m a Christian, who’s happy and blessed in so many ways, and I have depression. I take two Prozac pills a day, and I’m not a bad Christian because of it.
The Instagram post I referenced in this post is linked here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B2QBQUSFvsS/
The post mentions a link for the GoFundMe page that was set up by his family. I’ve linked that below if you feel led to donate to the family in this troubling time.
Click this link to donate: https://l.instagram.com/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.gofundme.com%2Ff%2Fjarrid-wilson-memorial-fund&e=ATOcE3zlEGRGqZYrd5ddaUodg5tW8OH2p4a93mXQMBU2i8e9EinZjwai0XEHLOLADGEg9glr_61Lu9Rf
If donating to a larger cause is on your heart, consider donating to Project Semicolon here: http://engage.projectsemicolon.com/
Any amount helps and brings us closer to a world where one day depression won’t take lives senselessly.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
You are never alone in this. If you have no one else to reach out to, my email is open: firstname.lastname@example.org , as well as my Instagram DM’s: @dellielogan
Please reach out, please talk to someone, and look out for those you love. Stay alive friends.
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