21 years ago last month, I tried to take my own life.
I’d been fighting depression and bullying in my senior year of high school and ending my life felt like the only way to end my pain. Once I made the decision, I was actually happier than I’d been in weeks – I was taking control! I was going to be okay! (By, you know, not being.)
I won’t say I regret that decision for myself, but I do regret the pain it caused people around me. For me, however, I had to go through that to get the help I needed. The days I spent in an adolescent psych ward were both frustrating and educational. I met other teens who were dealing with poverty, abuse, and addiction – some of them minimized my depression because I was a spoiled kid from the suburbs.
In the past ten days we’ve lost two celebrities and, closer to home, I know of two friends of friends who’ve lost their battles with depression. Especially with people like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, people are quick to point out “oh, but they had wealth and fame and help and resources and this and that.”
One of the things that took me a long time to understand is that often, depression is WORSE when things are good. It’s so frustrating to look around and see all the reasons you should be okay, should be happy – and instead, feel worthless and hopeless. Depression is always awful, but the pain can cut twice as deep when you know you should be at least content.
In the past 21 years I have had bad times, some even worse than that senior year of high school. And I have had good times, such good times. Depression comes regardless of where I’m at on this roller coaster we call life. Depression doesn’t care if you’re a celebrity, a spoiled kid from the suburbs, or an addict.
Depression might not care, but I do. I share my story in the hope of reducing the stigma of depression, in the hope that it will make it easier for someone else to get the help they need before it’s too late, in the hope that someone else realizes they aren’t alone and it’s not their fault.