If you're feeling cold right now? I'm hopeful that these words (I'm about to write) will light an ember for something you desperately need. Or, perhaps, they'll draw your eyes at least a little bit closer into realizing there is something "more" out there. That life... as unpredictable and challenging as it is... truly is worth living.
Look, reader, in a very non-subtle way - let me just address the thick of it:
I'm talking about mental illness. I'm talking about depression. I'm talking about something that, despite my shining optimism and daily words of encouragement... I, too, have faced.
...And because I've faced it - because I've woken up more times than I care to count wondering, "what the hell is the point?" - I think it's vitally important for the world to understand what this word "depression" means.
I want to preface this by saying something you probably already know... every single person is unique. Meaning, the way I fought through a storm doesn't necessarily mean it's the right way. I use this blog (aka "Lion's Den", I'm clever, I know) as a way to reach people outside of my books. I'm not here to talk about reviews, something I saw on TV or a funny joke I heard - no, screw that. I want to dig deep and find a way to help people, even if they might not be expecting it to come in the form of something they scrolled down on in their Instagram feed.
There's a lot of things that happen every single day. And with that, a lot of "bad things", ultimately, happen as well. The way everybody reacts to these events is different. Some might brush it off and carry on like nothing happened. Others? We fall apart. Or rather, we go into an abyss.
Speaking honestly...? I was the latter 'scenario' - if you will - for a long time actually. That's a little difficult to type, but it's the truth. When something hit me... it hit me HARD. And no matter what kind of mood I was in - hell, I could be having the best day of my life - I let it bring me down.
I've been told I'm a "good actor", but really? The people who knew me best could always see when something was bothering me. It radiated through the mask I wore, whether I was printing something in an office, handing you a compliment, or whatever - I carried that "shit" with me everywhere I went.
(Guess I'm cussing in this post. Cool. Let's fucking do this.)
I want to be real with you all because if I'm not? What the HELL am I...? I don't want to be whatever that is. And neither should you, for that matter. There's a lot of artificial, fake bullshit you're going to inevitably see in this world - but the Lion's Den doesn't have to be another one of those "places."
...back to examining the mirror I've been holding up to my face the previous few paragraphs - a lot of those "dark places" I went to were, admittedly, the result of a lot of unresolved things from my past. I grew up in a house that had cancer and, ultimately, I lost my mom at a young age. That's not a swan song. That's not to breed sympathy or pity - I hate that stuff, quite frankly. But because I kept that loneliness inside - because I didn't think anyone else would understand what I was going through - well...
I spent a lot of nights wondering why I was here. I spent a lot of nights searching for light. When, in actuality, the light was inside me the entire time.
The only way the snow was going to melt was if I found that light... if I found that "reason". For me? It's always been writing. It's always been my passion. And that's sort of where I'm moving forward to - I think everybody has a passion. I think everybody has something they can be incredibly good at with enough practice.
I think everybody has something they love to do.
I also think, as humans, we all have "gifts". And it's up to us - and us, alone - to find the best way possible to use our talents to make the world a better place. That's cliche. That's sappy. But, it's what I believe. Take it or leave it.
One of the biggest conflicts of depression is the self-belief that we're not "good enough". That sense of doubt (that, we often create within ourselves) is crippling... beyond crippling. Hell, it's paralyzing. And that's the thing about depression - it can go from an ember to a full on forest fire within our body in a mere blink.
So, how do you combat that? How do you fight through something when you feel like NOBODY can understand what you're going through and NOTHING can melt the avalanche you've fallen under........?
For me? I leaned on doing something I loved - writing. But it's not that simple. In fact, if I were to hold 'Depression' underneath a microscope... you'd quickly realize just how complex it is. Because - as I alluded to earlier - everybody reacts differently. Everybody is UNIQUE. So, again, the point of this post isn't to tell you how to beat depression - because there isn't a singular answer for that.
...no, the point of this post is to tell you that beating depression? Finding a way to rise up from that paralysis? It's achievable. It's doable. And as human beings, we all possess the resilience and strength to 'thaw' ourselves out of the shadows.
I feel this is necessary for me to say again - we ALL possess the RESILIENCE and STRENGTH to 'thaw' ourselves out of the shadows. That's something I wish I could go back to myself and say ten years ago... five years ago... hell, even as little as a YEAR ago.
But here I am. And I don't know if I've ever felt more alive in my life.
...which, brings me to my darkest point - suicide. Falsely believing the snow will NEVER melt and that the only way out is to end things. I want to scream what I'm writing right now because I feel like it could save lives:
THE SNOW MELTS. IT GETS BETTER. AND THERE IS ALWAYS TIME TO MAKE YOUR LIFE WHAT YOU WANT IT TO BE.
I stood outside one night calling my mom's old cell phone number over and over again. She didn't answer because she couldn't. Still, I kept calling - just because I wanted to hear her voice - just because I wanted to cry.
The emotion of being sad is a beautiful thing. It hurts like hell at the time, sure - but... it releases you. It makes you human. And from that vulnerability - we're able to grow. Depression, on the other hand, is NOT sadness. It is NOT a beautiful thing. And it is NOT to be taken LIGHTLY.
If you know anyone out there that might be struggling or having a hard time... please, please, go out of your way to be a little nicer tomorrow. And if you don't? Just be nicer anyways. Honestly, you've heard this before, but... you NEVER know what type of day somebody else is having. So, if they're being a dick to you? Let it go. If someone cuts you off in traffic? Just blast your music more.
Our actions every single day can change EVERYTHING - when I woke up today, I didn't think I was going to sit down and write a post about depression later on. But, again, here I am. And this is what I want to do - whoever is reading this right now, whether you've had the best day of your life or one of the worst - there's a lot of hurt in the world right now. There's a lot of wounds. But that doesn't mean we have to watch things burn... so, I encourage you to love one another. Be there for one another. And if you're lonely or struggling? Lean on the people around you because I swear they're there.
I'm here too, for the record. You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you ever want to talk off the record.
Keep going and DON'T give up,