On depression: what it is and what it isn’t.

There’s a lot of things (Okay one major thing) going on in Romanceland I could be talking about, but a lot of other people are doing the talking right now and they are saying it better/more affected/actually know how they feel. I’m still struggling with the latter, right now, and I have a firm policy of not opening my mouth until I’ve processed everything. I hate eating my words. I hate flip-flopping. I’ve learned the best way to avoid this is to just keep my fucking mouth shut altogether while my brain figures out what it thinks and how I feel.

Instead, I wanna talk about depression. Again.

Today has the potential to be a bad day. They happen sometimes, usually without warning. I’ve been spiraling for weeks, so this one wasn’t a complete surprise. The day will start out fine. Routine. I’ll be doing something mundane, like standing in my tiny kitchen, frying bacon, and suddenly I’m not there. I’m not in front of my stove, cursing and spitting every time I get hit by popping grease. I’m there and I’m not. Most of me is in that dark space in my head, hearing things like, “No one would miss you if you were gone” or “you could disappear today and no one would even notice.”

When I was younger, such thoughts would have me rushing out, gathering my friends around me, reassuring myself with their noise that I did, indeed, matter. As I got older, I started retreating into myself, finding evidence that voice was right. I’d live there until I didn’t, until it released me as suddenly as it snatched ahold of me in the first place. My closest friends knew that time for what it was. “I’m in the dark place,” I’d say. And they’d nod and step back, let me work it out and come back to them on my own time. It became the ebb and flow of our relationships. I was there then I wasn’t. They accepted that part of me for what it was and never pushed me to talk about it. Never filled my ears with things like, “I’m worried about you,” or “You should take your medication.” They understood that medicine made me feel — wrong. Corrected one aspect of my life while destroying others.

I’ve gotten older still, and with it, I handle those dark places differently. I still retreat a little. Still get a little quieter. But now I stay. I stand while the waves crash over me, filling my lungs with lies like, “You’re nothing and you mean nothing.” I feel no desire to reassure myself to the contrary. I don’t pack my bags to live there for awhile, nodding along as I think of every interaction that proves it. It’s a kinda stubborn acceptance now. I grip the spatula in my hand like a sword and ride it out. Fine. Fine. If I mean nothing, so be it. Soon this will be over and this awful voice will go silent again.

I’ve struggled with depression and lows for a long time. I’ve had the tired, apathetic depression, the crying kind, and the kind where I feel like a pot of simmering water, always on the verge of boiling over. In the last few weeks, I’ve experienced every form. I’ve, at times, had sucidical thoughts. I’ve never tried to commit suicide, but I’ve entertained the idea, terrified and elated that something minor could push me over that final edge. That’s what usually puts me on the path to clawing my way back up, my hands bloodied and torn by the time I get there.

What I’ve never ever done, never desired to do, is kill anyone else.

Oh, I’ve hid my depression and my being bipolar from loads of people. I’ve never come out and spoke at length about my sucidical thoughts. I do these things because of how people may, and have, treat me after learning. Whenever something horrific happens, such as the pilot who purposely crashed the plane the other day, and the media starts on the mental illness angle, I feel like people who know look at me, and everyone else with a mental illness, like we’re suspect.

Yeah, depression kills, but not like that.

When you jump to “his/her/their mental illness made them do this thing,” when people who suffer from mental illness, specifically depression, become an almost scapegoat to horrific acts done, you ostracize an entire group of people who have, never not once, had homicidal thoughts. You paint us in a light that makes us look like we’re deranged, potential murderers, whether that’s the intention or not. It’s bad enough that people will tread lightly around us when they find out, as if our mental illness is something contagious, but it’s so much worse to be looked at as possible killers. “Oh, one day she’s gonna snap and kill everyone around her.” We’ll retreat, we do retreat, and quietly suffer alone. We’re prone to do that anyway, because depression is such an isolating demon, but the fear and the worry about what other people are thinking and saying, the idea that maybe people are scared of us, will drive us even further into the darkness.

And that’s where depression kills.

But not like that.

Today has the potential to be a very bad day. The last few weeks have been bad weeks. But they’ve been bad in a, “No one will miss you, you don’t matter,” kind of way. Not “take control of this plane and kill everyone on board.” Depression doesn’t do that. I don’t know what does that. But not depression. Not depression alone.

We’re not killers. We’re sad and we’re tired and we’re apathetic. We’re not homicidal.

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