cultivating friendship while depressed

The friends that tried to understand were frustrated – people just didn’t understand how, despite having everything going for me, they were confused as to why I hated my life and everything about it. I can’t remember what brought the good friends around to understanding my situation, but in 2010-2011, something changed. I actually openly acknowledged to my friends that I had depression. It started slowly, but more and more friends were accepting of it. They just said “i’m sorry to hear you’re going through that, and if you ever need to talk, I’m here.”

The open acknowledgement happened by accident, but it was honestly one of the best things to ever happen to me:

One day I was Skyping with someone who would eventually be my girlfriend (now ex). I had just smoked up (pot was a crutch, an escape, and, well, just something I did for fun from time to time) and realized “crap, I have to take my medication.” When I got back, she asked what I was doing. I answered that I was taking my medication. When she asked why, I told her. And then I told her about my darkest times – the suicidal thoughts, the cuts, the narrowly-avoided attempts, and the moment that changed my life. I thought “holy shit. If i can be this honest with her, why can’t I be honest with others?”

I slowly started realizing that the depressed version of me wasn’t me. So, one at a time and very slowly, I told my friends that I was suffering from depression, and that if I ever seemed off or detached or upset for no reason, that was why. I didn’t expect them to understand – I was just putting my cards on the table. By that point, I realized either my friends were going to accept it or they were going to deny it. So I figured “what’s the worst that’ll happen? That I’ll lose my friendship? If I do, I guess they weren’t friends to begin with”

It’s a boiled down version of a very powerful Dr. Seuss quote: “Be who you and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”



supportive parents

My dad witnessed me almost commit suicide once. I think that’s how they found out something was wrong.

My mother put a heavy emphasis on finding God. I was raised a Catholic, and am currently agnostic. But there was all that talk of “you just need to find strength in faith” etc or “maybe if we throw him in a bunch of social situations, he’ll snap out of it when he sees how much people care about him!!

My parents were supportive the whole way through, even if they didn’t understand.

They wanted me to get help. They didn’t take away my knife, they didn’t stop me from talking about suicide to other people – they knew I needed to talk to SOMEONE – but they definitely kept a very close eye on me.

They were frustrated, more than anything. They were trying so hard but nothing was working. I can’t remember how, but somehow they found me a doctor that actually knew what they were doing. They took me to my appointments regardless of what was on their plate. They made sure I saw my friends, even when I had fresh cuts on my arms. Somehow they knew that I needed distractions and as much help as I could get.


when people found out

My sister was worried about me – I was an asshole of a brother and for some reason tried to traumatize her by showing her the cuts on my arms. She didn’t really know what to do or how to help, but she told my parents. My parents were confused, lost, upset, and kept asking “Why do you think this way? Why can’t you just think happy? You have everything going for you!!!”

They had the hardest time, I think. They didn’t know the extent of what I was going through, but they did their best to find out. Their approach wasn’t the best – my parents have always been kind of overbearing – but they did it out of love and I appreciate that. Sure, they violated my privacy – looking at my IM chat logs, for example – but they really wanted to help. They called MH crisis lines for advice, tried to get me to see a counselor (miserable failure), lost their shit when they finally saw my cuts…

My friends were… dismissive. It hurt. There was such a taboo around MH issues that people just downplayed it. Kind of a “everyone has bad days, you think you’re the only one?” or “you really need to get out more” or “stop being so emo.”

It crushed me. I needed them, so despite their ignorance, I clung to them. At some point in time, I realized some friends were going to brush it off, and so I stopped talking to them about it.