Back in June when Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain both committed suicide within days of each other there was all sorts of talk about depression. People urged those who are struggling to “reach out” and did all sorts of performative acts to show that they really care and are there for people who are struggling. There were also the people who denounced the actions of Spade and Bourdain, talking about how “selfish” they were to leave behind loving families and teen children whom they would never get to see grow up. I get it. I do. We all want to think that we can help people with depression and that we can provide enough support that someone in the throes of a depressive episode will change their mind if they just reach out.
Unfortunately that’s not how it works. This summer I have been struggling with my depression immensely. This isn’t usually how I feel. Summer is usually my safe time. The sun is shining and even though the heat gets to me, I much prefer to wear long sundresses and sandals than to be covered head to toe in clothing that has to protect me from the elements. When I think of summer I think of barbecues, swimming, beach days, and blowing bubbles on my balcony. I’ve done most of those things this year but it hasn’t been enough to save me from an overwhelming feeling of despair.
And so, as I keep thinking about those celebrity suicides (admittedly mostly thinking about Anthony Bourdain) I hate to say it but I get it. I get how it feels to battle something day after day, year after year. I get what it’s like to even go a full year or more generally feeling pretty good only to be knocked down again and feel like I can’t get out of bed. And I can understand how maybe after decades of fighting this inexplicable darkness that hangs over certain people, someone might give up hope and finally give in. Depression is exhausting. It exhausts me both emotionally and physically. When it feels like everyday of your life is an uphill battle (not just to be normal but to merely function) it gets hard to see any sort of light at the end of the tunnel. With that said, I am fighting everyday not to harm myself in any way. But for those who give up the fight after years of struggle, I get it. I’m sorry and I don’t blame you.