Happy Another-Year-of-Life Day

Celebrating each year is really just celebrating that you stayed alive for another year. Is the mere act of staying alive worth celebrating? In the past, I thought no. This year, however, I’m going to argue that, yes, it is worth celebrating another year of “just” staying alive.

Recently, a person I knew committed suicide [trigger warning]. It was shocking and sad. He was someone I didn’t have to know long to know he had a good heart.The night of the incident, he caused some property damage and emotional distress to other people before taking his life so there was a police report posted about it.

One comment on the post said, “it was too bad he hadn’t been able to get help.”

And someone replied, “You can’t help people who don’t want to be helped.”

There are always occasions to get into fights with people on Facebook but this was one of the most tempting. I had “evidence” to prove this Facebook commenter wrong. On my friend’s Facebook and blog there was countless evidence about how he had sought out ways to make his life better. One month prior to the incident he had posted about going on medication and how it was helping. He had been getting himself out of debt and working hard at his job. But even without “evidence”…how can we judge who is seeking help or not? And someone who needs help is not always in a position to ask or seek it out. It is, to sum it up, really hard.

Here’s the thing about me, and many people I love, we struggle with depression.

Now, for me personally, I have been seeing a therapist, reading books on different treatments (I can never plug The Body Keeps the Score enough), got on medication, got on birth control, write, started eating healthy, try to exercise every day, got an emotional support animal, have an emotional support husband, talk to people struggling similarly, draw, spend time outside, think about doing yoga, “take it easy”, try to be kind to myself, eliminated stressful situations, spend time with friends, spend time away from everyone, meditate, pray, breathe, take showers, take baths, write jokes, take time to love and take care of my body. Etc. etc. etc.

And guess what? I’m still depressed sometimes. Really. And sometimes it feels like there’s no way out, everything’s the worst, and nothing’s worth it, and nobody likes me, everybody hates me, and I should just go eat worms.

If there was some magic pill or magic way to be cured everyone would do it. No one wants to be sad, being sad sucks.

If we can acknowledge that birthdays, being alive another year, are worth celebrating maybe we can judge people a little less who struggle daily. For me, the times it feels the worst is when I’m embarrassed that I’m doing every flipping thing I can to keep it under control and I still feel crappy some days. It feels hopeless. I feel weak. I feel like I am less than a normal human and don’t contribute anything to society. At the same time I know, in my soul, that I am a worthwhile, strong, capable human…which somehow makes it worse, like being punched in the heart from opposite sides. And I already feel judged whether anyone is judging or not, so, judgers can save themselves the effort.

If you’re feeling like life is too hard some days, it’s not because you’re weak, or you’re a quitter, or because you “don’t want help.” And I know from experience that those kinds of thoughts feel worse because you don’t think you can talk to anyone about them. I hope you know there is a hotline you can call but I also hope you have at least a couple people in your life you can call as well. Even if you don’t have depression with a capital “D” make sure you know it’s okay to not feel 100% 100% of the time.

I think overall it’s getting better, people are more open-minded about mental illness but it is still so embarrassing to talk about and I wish it wasn’t. For myself and for the many others out there.

So, hi, I’m Lauren. I’m depressed. I don’t like talking about it, but I will if it makes anyone else feel better. Maybe if you think I’m normal (keyword if) and you know I have depression you can realize that there are lots of good normal-ish people who struggle and if you struggle yourself you can know you’re not alone.

I think it’s worth trying everything you can do to heal but I also am not going to judge anyone who looks like “they’re not trying.” Because the one thing I know is that I cannot possibly know what someone else is feeling or what they are capable of at any given point in time.

I didn’t know what it was like before. I didn’t know, until I experienced it, what it could feel like to feel like garbage…that has been lit on fire and run over by a steamroller…while being hit by those medieval spiky balls on a stick things…in the heart. I know there are people who have it much worse than I do (which honestly makes me more depressed to think about because my empathy goes on overdrive) and I’m grateful for the many days I have that I do feel happy and well. And I’m grateful for the many things that have made this past year so great and I’m excited to see what the next year brings.

Here’s to making it to another birthday and hopefully this can be your reminder that even on your darkest days that it’s worth making it to your next birthday. xoxo

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