“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
Kurt Cobain. Alexander McQueen. Junior Seau. L’Wren Scott.
David Foster Wallace. Chris Cornell.
Robin Williams. Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain.
Depression clearly doesn’t care if you are a celebrity. It doesn’t care who you are, how much money you have, or what you do. It doesn’t care about your accomplishments, or whether you have “everything to live for.” It doesn’t care if you have kids.
It doesn’t care if you are homeless or if you live in a mansion. It doesn’t care about the love of your family, your friends, or your fans.
Depression smirks when good, kindhearted people say things like “just snap out of it,” or “stop being so sad, what do you have to be sad about?” Depression scoffs when people say depression is simply “mind over matter,” or it should “be easy to chase it away if we look at the bright side.”
They do not understand.
The only easy thing about depression is that it’s easy to hide. We can pretend that all is well for the world outside when deep down within ourselves we are struggling with feelings we neither understand, nor communicate. We can fake being happy and connected, even when we know that pieces of our puzzle are missing. We can hide our depression in plain sight, because we don’t want others to worry.
For those of us who suffer, the different abuses we employ tell the same story of our shared human condition, which is a constant craving for those “hits” of dopamine and serotonin and the after-effects of being “high” that are wonderful, but far too short lived, and mean nothing later, when our darkest, lowest thoughts return, and we are left needing more.
Our abuses are about chasing a feeling. We turn to food, to alcohol, to drugs. We turn to shopping, and gambling, and sex. Many of us develop addictions, and many of us mask our need for relief by outwardly pretending to be fine. Or we simply become disengaged, and we don’t care about the effect our disengagement has on those we love. We always think we have things under control, but chasing and masking are reckless, ruthless behaviors that only propagate our disease.
Celebrities who take their own lives reveal a startling truth. Their deaths stun us because they seem to have everything they could possibly want, and everything they’ve worked so hard for. Their suicides shine a glaring, reality-check spotlight on the fact that depression doesn’t care about what we have, or what we show the world. It doesn’t care about our fronts, our captivating personalities, our intellect, or our success. It doesn’t care about our talent, artistry or expression. It doesn’t care who we know, or where we’ve been, or what we look like, or how old we are.
Chronic depression just wants relief. It wants to take us under with it. It wants to drown. It wants a bullet. It wants a rope. It wants to bleed. It wants us to end the masking, the chasing, and the need.
It just wants relief from endless suffering at the hands of a monster who hides in plain sight.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255