Depression lies

I’ve heard so often from people who don’t know depression, the questions about how a person who is loved and who appears to have everything they need in life could want to commit suicide. It is almost automatic, this assumption that because what is seen from the outside is perceived as wholesome, that’s what must be going on inside too. Society wants to think that it is only the down and out, the psychotic or disturbed that kill themselves. That way we can continue to view mental illness as a sickness to be cured, as something ‘other’ to what’s mainstream.

The truth is that, while there are varying degrees of severity in people’s struggles, one in four adults in the UK will require treatment for mental health issues in their lifetime. That means that a quarter of the people you meet in a day might have at some time felt suicidal. They could be the happiest, luckiest, healthiest people you know. And they might still want to end their own lives.

I read this incredibly moving letter this morning, published by a woman in response to her sister’s suicide. The key message hit home with me. Depression lies.

It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got, how wonderful your children are, how much talent you possess, etc., because depression shouts louder than all of that. I could list a hundred amazing things about my life, and my depression would come up with two hundred reasons why they aren’t real, they won’t last, or I don’t deserve them.

Depression tells me horrible lies. It tells me I will never feel like life is worthwhile. It whispers in my ear in my happiest moments, reminding me that they could be my last. When I’m alone, it guides me into darkness, urging me to follow it down into dangerous places.

The words of depression are more pervasive than any others. They ring in my ears long after any compliments have drifted away. It’s as though I have this membrane through which I can only absorb the worst sentiments, the criticism and the hopelessness. At the same time it’s a barrier that prevents the good stuff squeezing through.

I hate this depression that takes so much energy from me. It drains colour and leaves me with insipid greys. It questions everything; the love I’m given, the gifts in my life and the warmth of my friends and family. Without depression, I would be a better person. I could use my talents to spread some happiness into the lives of others. Breaking free from what my depression tells me, I could learn to truly love myself, in the now and in the future that awaits me.

Depression lies. It steals time and joy and wonder from amazing people who deserve better. That makes it so much sadder when the blackness of those lies steals a person’s existence. So I will keep fighting that dark voice. I’ll keep trying to hold on to what’s good. And I will strive to remind myself that what depression tells me is cold and cruel and quite simply is not true.

Photo: thematthewknot, Creative Commons.

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. elzthebelz says:

    You’re completely on point with this post. I really like your description of what it really can be like. For me, it affects me in some way everyday if it’s not sending me into the deepest darkness. It’s almost like people who have never suffered don’t really understand how much pain and hurt can be felt in place of happiness. It’s almost weakness, something that can be gotten over but it truly isn’t.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The worst thing you can ever hear is “what have you got to be depressed about?” or my personal favorite, “i thought things were going well?” Fuck……you. You are right on about someone not understanding unless they have walked through it. Of course you feel you are the only one. That is the nature of the beast. Will be following.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Laura Black says:

      Thank you. And often for me, the times when everyone else thinks I’m doing really well are the times I am coping the least.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. loomy9138 says:

    I was so touched by your message here that I had to share it on my blog so I hope you don’t mind. This message is so very true it is overwhelming. It is hard to take compliments. Most of us have gone from a situation where we were abused to a situation where we continue the abuse ourselves. The worst words uttered to us by our abuser passed on to us to become our own internal narrative. As Eleni says in her article, those are the times we have to listen to the words our loved ones say, not the lies depression tells us, or the crap others have put on us because of their own damage. To that, I would like to leave you with some words to tell yourself when depression is whispering to you in the darkness.

    You are incredibly strong and brave. You are a warrior, taking the damage that has been dealt on you and turning it around to something positive through this blog. You are kind, and were one of only two people that reached out to me in my greatest time of need this past weekend. You have been so hurt, kicked down, stomped on, but yet you strive to be better and to help others. The light I see inside of you is so bright nothing could ever snuff it out. To practice kindness in the face of immense pain is a strength that very few have. Like others you could instead take your pain and lash out at others, hurting them too. Instead you have chosen to help others. I am in awe of your strength, intelligence, and fortitude. I wish peace for you my friend, as no one could be more deserving. Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Laura Black says:

      I am so touched by these words, and how thoughtful it was of you to take the time to leave them here for me. They really warmed my heart at a low ebb this evening, thinking about the funeral I’m attending tomorrow. And by all means share or re-post anything, I won’t ever mind!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. loomy9138 says:

        Please take care of yourself. I’m here for you and you are enough 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  4. “My life is fantastic. Therefore, depression lies and your life isn’t bad.”

    Sorry, this line of reasoning is false.

    Depression doesn’t lie. It’s a part of the person’s reality. It just happens that their life isn’t satisfying to them. We have this bizarre idea that everyone must live even if they don’t want to. We think we deserve free will, but once someone chooses to end their own life we think it’s our business.

    People have a right to end their lives for whatever reason. No one should be forced to live with depression. Give the people power. Give them the exit bag.and let them do it when it’s right.

    Life is only valueable if you decide it is, and you don’t have an obligation to live.

    What gives us the right to demand so much of suicidal people?

    Like

    1. Laura Black says:

      I agree that anyone has the right to end their own life, and I wouldn’t pass judgement on them for doing so. I remember a therapist saying to me once, the society never judges a person in insufferable physical pain for wanting to die – so why should they do so for someone in emotional pain?

      That said, my experience of depression is that I know, somewhere that I have a lot to be thankful for. I need to remind myself of that at the darkest moments. Personifying depression as a voice that tells me lies helps me do that. It is very much part of me and my psyche, but it is helpful to see it as separate sometimes. And I do firmly believe that life is worthwhile, every human being has value and has the potential within them to be happy, even if only fleetingly. For myself, I know at some point I will begin to know my own value – just as others can too. If we lose sight of that potential, we lose hope. And often those of us with depression lose sight of that in the blackness.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, help should be available for those who want a way out of the depression.
        It’s the fact help is unavailable for those who have chosen differently. Suicide isn’t losing a battle or giving up. It is ending an abusive relationship, exiting the theater when the movie is crap. It’s a choice that should be respected.

        Like

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