I must preface this post by saying it is written by my best friend. He’s the one who has been there for me through everything. So here is his perspective on my (Talia’s) mental illness.
I have never been diagnosed with depression. I don’t believe I am a true depressive. In fact I consider myself a relatively happy person, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my bad days. We all have our bad days. I may not be a depressive, but I am the friend that Talia has described as her supporter. While I do not claim to have an understanding of what it is like to suffer from depression, I do feel like Talia has taught me a lot on her journey. Recently, I’ve had a string of bad days and I felt like getting my thoughts onto paper may just help.
I don’t know exactly what it’s like to wake up every day and struggle to find the motivation to get out of bed. I don’t know what it’s like to look at a situation and have an uncontrollable part of my brain make me think the absolute worst thing about it. I don’t often question to myself what the point of trying is. I don’t have this mental illness that consumes the logical part of my brain and spreads like a cancer, telling me I’m worthless and things will never get better. I know the “string of bad days” that I have aren’t anywhere near what true depression is and that scares the HELL out of me. I feel terrible as I write this and can’t even imagine what I would feel like if I did have depression. I respect and love anyone who has to deal with these feelings everyday of their lives and that’s why I’ve remained loyal to and supportive of Talia. No matter how many scientific articles you read, or how many stories you hear, a non-depressive will never be able to fully understand exactly what it’s like. But they can get a decent knowledge and that could just lead you to be the supporter of a depressive.
For me, it’s a weird journey. I have a lot of “normal” days. I wake up, shower, get dressed and go to work. I do the humanly thing and say “I don’t want to go to work today,” but that seems like nothing other than social expectations anymore. Despite the fact that I do have a lot to be thankful for, such as breath in my lungs, a roof over my head or food on the table, it’s easy to find myself in a string of “bad days.” The last two weeks have been a string for the ages. I took a two day trip to St. Louis and had a ball, but when I returned to work the figurative snow started to fall. I manage a store and am responsible for making sure it operates as it should to conduct business. My first day back, I had a clerk call off due to a sick child. We are a small store and she was the only one scheduled that day so I was forced to work by myself from 4 AM until 3 PM. It wasn’t all that bad, but it was enough to get a little stressed. That was when the figurative snowball was first packed. I worked a 14 hour shift the next day. That was when the figurative snowball was gently pushed over the edge of the hill. Another clerk called off the following day and I was forced to work by myself again. That figurative snowball was gaining momentum and it just kept going. By Friday, five days after returning from St. Louis, the original clerk had her other child get sick. So it was another day working by myself. The weekend didn’t bring any improvements. Three of my five staff were off due to requests that had been approved before we had lost a person. To reward their work, I felt the need to fulfill their requests not knowing that the week was going to be hell. Things at work just kept piling up and before I knew it, I had worked at least 12 hours for 10 straight days.
I was mentally drained. That figurative snowball I mentioned previously had grown. All it took was that one call-off to set things in motion. At a point, my niece asked why the CD I was trying to play in the car kept getting spit back out. As I told her that the CD player was just worn out and starting to lose function, the thought of having to replace my car soon entered my head. I got this car my senior year of high school, twelve years ago. It’s beginning its last leg. I currently live with my sister, unable to afford my own place at 29 years old due to a crippling amount of student loan debt for a degree I may never use. I’ve been working hard at paying down my other bills and saving money to free up funds to afford other life necessities, such as my own place. Soon, I’ll have to make the decision of getting a new car or moving out on my own. Of course it’s not really a choice at all; the car would win out and I’d be left living with my sister and her family. I sit here writing this after day thirteen in a row at work, missing four days off over the course of the last two weeks and the thoughts just keep piling up. I’m not content with where I’m at in life and I don’t feel as though the opportunities to correct it are there. I can’t find a job worth leaving my current one, I can’t seem to find anyone to date and I don’t get to enjoy time off.
The point I wanted to make with that story is that we all have our “tough times”. Have you ever missed a promotion at work? Ever gotten called in on your day off? You feel helpless and let yourself get down. Multiply that feeling by ten and you’d know how I feel right now, knowing why I feel terrible about myself. Now take that feeling and multiply it by a million and you might just see what a depressive feels like EVERY day of their lives without having a clue as to why. So take a moment before you make a comment to somebody suffering from depression. It’s not quite as easy as “brushing it off.” I’m having trouble picking myself up and I know why I’m down. A depressive can’t fathom what it will take to bring them back and have no clue where to start.
I support Talia fully, no matter what. Even though I have feelings similar to that of hers, I still have trouble remembering that her thoughts of worst case scenario are not by choice. I get frustrated talking with her. I get angry sometimes and just want to explode. But I take a moment to remember how I’ve felt and how she must feel; a million times worse. I take solace in knowing that I can be there for her. No matter what.
If you know someone with depression, take the time to educate yourself. Listen to them, no matter how frustrating it can be, and give them a shoulder to cry on. Don’t bother asking them what’s wrong because they probably don’t know. Just let them talk. Be their supporter. You could be the only motivation they have to do anything.