A Seventh-day Adventist Organization

Mental Illness... Isn't it Ironic?

I’m going to start this by saying this is probably one of the most terrifying things I’ve done or will do. But it needs to be done.

Robin Williams committed suicide yesterday. As soon as I found out (one of my best friends and my mom both texted me at the exact same time to tell me), I broke down crying. I’m thankful that I was alone at work and was able to do so in relative peace.

I keep telling myself that I'll tell more people about my depression next time something like this happens. So here we are. I can’t keep it to myself anymore. And if you’re reading this and know me personally, please, please, please do not treat me any differently than you already do. Don’t pity me. That’s the last thing I’m looking for.

Currently there are only a handful of people that know that I have depression (and also anxiety, because why just have the one?). I realize I’m putting this on the internet for anybody to find, but maybe this can help eliminate some of the stigma surrounding it, which, ironically, is why I’ve been publicly avoiding this topic for years.

This is how depression is for me: Sometimes I don’t feel anything. Sometimes I feel way too much. Sometimes I’ll go through months at a time where I don’t cry at all. After my grandmother died five years ago, I didn’t cry for a year, until I was studying abroad and felt suddenly homesick. I remember one night my roommate was out and I felt lonely and worthless and I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. I think that was the first time I realized I might be depressed. Which, again, is ironic because that was also one of the best years of my life.

Even on days when I feel great, I have thoughts like “Yeah, it’s great now, but I bet one of your friends or family members is dying and you’re just waiting for the call” or simply, “You don’t deserve this feeling of happiness. Stop feeling that way.”

During the times that I don’t feel anything, sometimes I have thoughts like “If I got in a car wreck right now, I don’t think I would mind.” or “I wonder what a gun to my head would feel like?”

I have never been suicidal. Ever. But I have been to the point, several times, where if I faced death, I just wouldn’t care, and I would possibly invite it in for a cup of tea before we went to the great beyond or wherever. But I never planned it, let alone attempted it, and I can’t imagine the depths of darkness one must be in for that to be the case. The thought of that shatters my heart—how unfair it is to be a captive of your own chemically imbalanced mind, at no fault of your own. How unfair it is that your own mind makes you think you should cease to exist. It’s horrendously unfair.

I was taking medication for about a year up until about a month ago, when I lost all my anti-anxiety and anti-depressant pills when I was traveling in the Philippines. I think I left them in a hotel room, and by the time I realized it, we were four hours away so it was essentially too late. The most terrifying part of that was that I had to tell people about it, ironically, fellow public health colleagues. I just kept vaguely saying “I lost my medication. I’m not sure what will happen when I’m not on it,” which, thinking back on it, probably sounds a lot more ominous than if I had just said “I might be more anxious and tired without them.” But that’s neither here nor there.

I eventually had to tell a couple of my colleagues because a) they were trying to help me find replacements and b) I needed to explain why I might not be acting myself for the next couple weeks. Long story short, we weren’t able to find replacements I was comfortable with taking, and I actually did okay without them. This absolutely won’t be the case for everybody. And I know that I might end up going back on them, but right now I’m okay.

I realize that I’ve said some form of the word “irony” several times in this post. “Ironic” is a word I would definitely use to describe depression in general. Ironic. Some of the most beautiful, outwardly happy, talented people can suffer from the self-deprecating, vicious lies that depression tells them. Depression lies. Depression lies. Depression is a liar. Do not ever listen to it. Remember that.

Ironically, I’m still at the point where I think it’s a sign of my own weakness to talk to somebody in a professional setting, yet I am getting a graduate degree in public health and I KNOW that is not the case.

Ironically, I’ve been told that I am a very funny and warm person, while depression tells me the opposite of that.

Ironically, mental illness still has a stigma attached to it, despite the fact that at least one out of every five Americans (18 and older) suffers from it. And these are just the diagnosed cases.

Ironically, despite its prevalence, it can be hidden painfully easily.

Let’s take the irony and the stigma out of mental illness.

Let’s talk about it.

Let’s get help.

Let’s encourage those around us to seek help.

And most of all, let’s be kind to one another.


If you or somebody you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


   

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Comments (9)

  • anon

    Thank you for sharing Katie! You're definitely not alone!

    Aug 12, 2014
  • anon

    Thanks for writing Katie! You said it perfectly. I suffer from severe depression and anxiety as well and it's not something I usually open up with when I'm with friends and it's sometimes a burden we carry. We all have our demons, I know I like to use humor to cope with it. Often the happiest looking people can be the saddest inside. You're brave for writing this, thanks for that!

    Aug 12, 2014
  • anon

    I am so proud to call you my friend, Katie. Thank you for writing and sharing this.

    Aug 12, 2014
  • anon

    You go, Glen Coco.

    Aug 12, 2014
  • anon

    Thank you for sharing. I can all too easily sympathize with much of what you've written. In my opinion, it makes one strong rather than weak to be open and to seek help. You are not only strong but also brave and beautiful. I have no doubt that your post will help and inspire many! :)

    Aug 12, 2014
  • anon

    I am so very touched and proud of you for writing this, my friend. It's is a brave thing to shed light on our demons. And you are right, depression is a liar. Know that whatever it tells you, it is the exact opposite of the truth. You are one of the most bright and beautiful people that I have ever had the honor of calling my friend. I too have struggled with thoughts and feeling such as these and battled anxiety for years. It's a terrible burden to bear alone. But you are never alone. We can fight this dark foe together.

    Aug 12, 2014
  • anon

    This is lovely and your courage is inspiring.

    Aug 12, 2014
  • anon

    This is so beautiful and inspiring Katie! It takes a very strong person to be so open about struggles, and I believe it will help give hope to so many. I've personally experienced the pain of depression with my closest family members, and there are so many suffering from this often devastating silent illness. There is so much social stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental illness. Thank you for being so courageous and inspiring! Your voice and others promote awareness of depression and mental illnesses, and hopefully will change society's misconceptions.

    Aug 13, 2014
  • anon

    I am so inspired by my dear cousin! You have opened your heart and shared with the world how truly courageous you are! I too, have suffered from the same issues. I journeyed so far down the winding dark path that I even tried to end it all. As a sufferer of depression, I know it needs discussed. It needs to be shared. By discussing and sharing we might just save another human life. Katie, you are a super-hero!

    Aug 13, 2014

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