Dear Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain,
Its been a week since you took your own lives and though the world stopped for a day everyone has now resumed their normal rhythm. Isn’t that the way it goes though? We hear someone we know, loved, and admired has ended their lives and everyone’s social media feeds flood with well-intentioned memes urging readers with suicidal thoughts to come over for a cup of coffee, call the 1-800 number, reach out!! Fair enough right? But they don’t understand it do they? You know you were loved. You know you were needed. You know how much we all admired you. But depression is a monster that lives inside our heads and obscures the light. It blinds us from our ability to see, to feel. The darkness creeps in until it consumes and leaves you feeling overwhelmed. Depression mutes your ability to speak, to reach out and ask for help until eventually, it just feels hopeless.
To those of us on the outside you had it all. Glamorous lives, dreams fulfilled. Lives that were creative, adventurous, and rewarded. But depression numbed you to all of that. The numbness was probably the worst part right? How tiring it must have been to feel nothing. No joy, no fear, no pain, no love, just…nothing. Every day. All day. It makes you not want to face anything again. Just lay in bed under the covers and sleep until the numbness goes away. You canceled plans. Stopped doing the things you enjoyed. You stopped showing up. If only they would have checked on you! If only they would have reached out. But we’re all trained and conditioned not to. When someone stops showing up we assume they’ve moved on. We take it personally or we’re too afraid of being intrusive to check in. We feel helpless. We don’t know what to do.
Depression is so, so heavy. You were strong but now you’re tired. You had been dragging that weight around for so long you stopped believing in hope. All those memes on social media about positivity and living your best life seemed ridiculous. Dying had to be the only way to find relief, right? Because after all, you were just a burden to everyone. The world would really be a much better place without you in it. You had nothing left to give anymore. No purpose.
But oh, you were wrong. So, so, so wrong! Depression is a liar. Depression is a lying bastard! You were never a burden to anyone. You were never alone. Hope is not a lie. Hope is real. Your life had value. Your life had meaning. When someone leaves this world they leave a massive gaping hole, a space that only they can fill. It hurts. Grief washes over those left behind in waves until eventually the gaping hole becomes a raw, festering open wound that never heals.
Reader, if you are living with depression, MDD, or bipolar II with depression, please know that voice in your head is a liar. You are not a burden. You are not a pain in the ass. Your life has value. I know my words do not fix your broken heart. I know they cannot lift the weight of your depression. We all fight our internal demons and invisible illnesses. You are not alone. Relief is coming. Depression is a liar. Love is the truth. You are loved. You are needed. You are the light in someone’s life. You are the reason someone in the world has hope. So if you are reading this and thinking that the only way to stop the endless pain of depression is to end your life call 1-800-273-8255 and help will be there because you are worth fighting for.
If you are reading this and you are not suicidal and you don’t have depression then I hope my words have helped you to understand that mental illness is a real illness. It is not a selfish mindset. It is not a bad lifestyle choice. Its a disease. It is a biological disease like heart disease, diabetes, or hypertension. Its nothing to be ashamed of. It is a disease that requires medication, therapy, and support from family and friends. If you know someone has depression, anxiety, or any other kind of mental illness and you haven’t heard from them or seen them in awhile, check in on them. Ask how they are doing. Remind them that they are worth fighting for.