I made a new friend recently. She struggles with depression. It’s part of why we get along, I’m sure. It’s part of why I get along with most of the people I get along with. She asked me if I struggle with it, too. I told her the truth: every single day.
It’s unfair. I know that. I’m down on myself and rarely see beyond my own, many flaws, but even I know that it’s unfair the way my mind treats me.
Does it have to be every day? Is that really necessary? Do I deserve to have to fight every single day I’m alive just to be okay? Does anyone deserve that?
I don’t think anyone does. And yet, I know I’m not alone. I know it isn’t just me. If it’s unfair that I need to struggle, to fight, to work hard just to keep going every single god-damned day of my life, how much less fair is it that so many others do, too?
I don’t mean to oversell it. Some days aren’t as bad, but it’s always there. And I win plenty of battles against myself, but the victories are small, and fleeting. The losses are devastating.
With depression, you don’t fight to win. You fight to survive. At some point, for many people, you lose enough times in a row, or hard enough, or unfairly enough, and you stop fighting. I don’t blame anyone who stops fighting. I know it’s hard. I know how it feels. I know lying down and giving up seems like a very tempting prospect at times. To be honest, I wonder if I’ll ever do that. To be more honest, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if I did.
It’s hard. It doesn’t end. You never win. You just fight it until you lose for good.
Another friend of mine asked me a few weeks ago if I’d be dead if it weren’t for my writing. The answer I gave him was more conversational. The actual answer is yes. Yes, I would.
Writing is my weapon, I could say on certain days. On other days, I’d say it’s my defense. Whatever the perspective, I need it. Whatever the perspective, it’s all, sometimes, that I have.
Birthdays are difficult for me. Holidays are difficult for me. Compliments and kind words and presents and people who wish me well are all extremely difficult for me. I’ve worked very hard for everything I have and every inch I’ve gained, and still my mind is unsatisfied both because I could have more, and because I might not deserve what I do have.
There’s no progress. There’s no advancement. There’s change, but no way forward. The struggle is inside. I can change the outside as much as I want, and it means nothing. The inside is where the battle plays out, endlessly, continuously, starting over every day.
Every god-damned day.
I take a few days every year for personal reflection. It’s around this time, which is convenient, because I tend to isolate around my birthday anyway. It’s rough for me. It’s rougher for many others.
I have friends. I have friends who care and who understand. I have the funniest, sharpest set of readers and commenters on the internet, as far as I’m concerned. I have an audience. I write some piece of crap, and people read it. People read it! That’s miraculous. I’ve known writers, and know writers, who would kill for that.
I have a passion. I have a weapon or a defense or whatever you want to call it that keeps me steady. Something I can turn to when I’m feeling at my lowest that helps me to get back to a healthier place. I have people I can talk to. I have a steady writing job. (A writer with a steady job! That‘s miraculous.)
I have so fucking much, and other people don’t. They don’t have that. They face what I face — and worse — every god-damned day…and they don’t have what I have. They fight harder than I or you could ever know, just to make it through a day. And then the next day comes…and they have to do it again. Depression is a Sisyphean punishment. The boulder always rolls back down. Every god-damned day.
I’m sharing this here because you know at least one of those people that’s worse off than I am. I have a voice, and some small platform. They don’t. I have the strength, for whatever reason, to talk about the difficulties I have. They don’t.
It’s my birthday today. I’m thirty-five. If I live another thirty-five years, I’ll have struggled with depression and actively fought it for 70 years. 25,550 god-damned days.
So, do me a favor today. Okay?
Reach out to someone.
Someone you care about.
Maybe you know they have problems of their own. Maybe you have no idea.
But reach out.
Just let them know you care about them, and leave it at that. If you want to be really great, let them know you’re there if they ever need somebody to talk to.
It’s a small gesture. I’m not asking for much. They aren’t, either. And you’re not going to change a life.
But I can promise you one thing: you’ll make their day a little easier. And when you struggle for 365 days out of the year, you feel every day that’s “a little easier.”
Thanks in advance, on behalf of someone who needs you right now. You can make a difference, and be a hero, just by reminding somebody that they aren’t alone.