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Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain. Suicide, and the aftermath.
They had everything; it’s a selfish act. They had money; how could they be that depressed? They had fame; how could they be so lonely?
I've come to the conclusion that there are two types of people in this world. Those that have been depressed, and know and understand to the depths of their core what its like to feel that hopeless and alone, and those who have not.
Most of us think that the “depressed” ones, the selfish ones, the ones that feel too much--that we are in the minority. We are the troubled ones. We are strange. (We jump off bridges. We hog the news coverage.) At the very least, we need extra help and attention. We are the “special needs” group of (hopefully) functioning adults.
Its sad. It’s a little embarrassing. (What? It’s A LOT embarrassing!)
Who among us would ever willingly admit that we have had thoughts that our life is not worth living? That the world would shine, thrive and bloom in beautiful color without us? That we are the black, ugly dark ink stains on beautiful pink satin?
If I asked you to show by a raise of hands…have you every heard the “voices?” would you know what I was talking about?
I always thought I was in the minority. I've suffered from depression since the fifth grade. I’m weird, right?
I didn’t learn to “handle” it until college. With a very simple method…running! Lots of cardio. (No anti-depressents or medication yet). Yes, its not perfect. It's not the solution for everyone. Others need much, much more.
But it has helped.
It's hard. I have to be rigorous. I can't let things slip. I have to be an eternal, fastidious, disciplined, ridiculous gate-keeper of my own mind. Why do you have to guard your own mind?! Is this thought good? Is it productive? It's not? Then, DO NOT ENTER!
I must train myself to count my blessings. I have to audibly name in gratitude what I am thankful for EVERY SINGLE DAY. I must eliminate, expel, expunge, any toxic thoughts with the force of a geyser. I have spiraled. I have suffered. But do you see me every day? Yes I am in my running shoes. I am smiling. It's real. Its genuine. I am OK!
And there is beauty, too. (And this is beauty that I hope will stick around for the long haul.)
When you come out of it, you have no fear. You have already looked the devil in his face. You have felt the fiery breath of the hounds of hell. And you have survived.
You aren’t scared. You only have strength. Stamina. The unending, undying knowledge that you will prevail. (Do you see me now? Do you see why I am never scared? I’ve been to hell and back in my own mind. And I came back. I am unafraid! What is left to fear?)
At a dinner party, we were talking about the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade.
The thoughts. The voices shared: How could they do it? Why would they do it? They had everything. Why? How? How could you be that depressed?I don’t get it. I don’t understand.
And for the first time, at this upper-class, white people dinner party in San Diego, the responses were:
“That’s good you’ve never been that depressed! That’s good you don’t understand!”
And I realized then. In this dinner party of 9 people, at least 4 of the people DID UNDERSTAND. They HAD BEEN THAT DEPRESSED. I could see it in their eyes. They didn’t say it. They didn’t articulate it. They didn’t talk about it. But the truth was there.
And it made me realize. What if NOT EVER BEING DEPRESSED was in the minority? What if the majority of humans HAVE suffered from extreme feelings of sadness? Of hopelessness? Of worthlessness? To the point of thinking that their life was not living? Of leaving everything behind?
Would it be so embarrassing? Would we be so afraid to talk about it? To share our suffering? Would we have so much shame? Would we be so afraid to ask for help?
What if you didn’t feel so alone. What if you weren’t the minority. What if you were the majority?
Would that help? Would it change things?
I think it would.
This is my hope: Talk. Speak. Share. Tell others how you have felt at your worst. Share your darkest sorrows and also share your greatest hopes, too. Share your laughter, your vunerability, your hilarity in all its raw glory. Be real. Be candid. Be truthful.
We are not alone. We are a life force, and we are all connected. We are in this together.
You aren’t alone. And you don’t need to be afraid.