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Don't Be Afraid

A Conversation About Depression

Video by WebMD on the CTL

Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental health issues plague our society today. I have not been untouched by them. I live, and have lived, with anxiety for years, perhaps even as early as kindergarten. I never questioned it, but in the past few years, I have come to notice it, and it's getting much worse. I experienced bouts of depression, episodes during high school, and again recently. I will be 22 at the end of the month. I have a lot of life left to be sad and afraid of, but I don't want to be anymore. And I don't want anyone else to be.

My hometown community was recently devastated. A night time house fire claimed the lives of a mother and two children, whom I had the pleasure of meeting a long time ago. It hit our community hard, and the family even harder, I'm sure. This is somewhat to help them as well.

I decided that sharing my conversation with the crisis text helpline via Facebook would be a good idea. I want people who read it to understand I was in a rough place in life. This conversation helped me so much, and I encourage the reader to seek help if you need it, or share this with someone you know who is having a rough patch. It is ok to be vulnerable. I had this conversation in my living room right next to my fiance, and he has never seen a word. 

I am in a better state of mind now after having this conversation, so I hope others who are struggling will be inclined to try it, especially those who don't want to talk over the phone.

***

"This has been the worst day off ever... I've been dealing with my fiance who got fired a month and a half ago, and also lost basically everything he has. I'm trapped in a sh-t job that I love, but doesn't respect me. My dad has been having some heart problems lately, and he had to go to the emergency room by ambulance a few weeks ago... my mom said she'd come over, but forgot and we haven't been able to find a day together again. My dad stopped by today to switch me over to owning my car, gave me 800 dollars that I felt completely guilty taking it, and then I signed up and paid for insurance, almost 1000 dollars. I'm going broke so fast. I've been struggling with mental illness for a while, and I can't find help because of my financial problems... I feel trapped, I feel suffocated, I'm tired and sad and angry all the time. I feel like nobody really cares. Or that everyone I see every day is fake, and wouldn't care if I was gone at all... I'm just rambling...

I need help, but I know I can't get any."

"Hi, I'm Logan. Thank you for reaching out. It sounds like you going through a lot right now, it's no wonder you're feeling overwhelmed."

"Overwhelmed is an understatement. I feel like if I talk to anyone about my problems they're just going to give me some light-hearted bull."

"I see. Do you feel like people do that to you a lot?"

"I feel like we all do it. I feel like it's human nature. You know, trying to keep the human race alive, natural selection. All that crap.

I know I'm sick. I don't know how to get help when I can't afford it..."

"I see. That sounds immensely frustrating.

I know you said you can't afford help, but if you'd like I can send you a link to Aunt Bertha. It's a website that tries to help people with low income find...

... resources including mental health ones."

"Yeah. I was having thoughts the other day while my fiance was in an interview. I imagined a customer coming in to work later, making me more upset and I would pull out the box cutter and just stab myself in the hand in front of them. I cried. I hate that my brain comes up with such fucked up thoughts."

"I see. do you have intrusive thoughts like that often?"

"Only in the past 6 months. And I did quite a few years ago as well. A lot of times I think about breaking stuff, rather than myself. I never act on any of it, but it does make me uncomfortable, and i get pretty upset when it happens."

"Have you ever had suicidal thoughts?"

"I have. I don't like to think about killing myself, but I do think about what it would be like not to exist, and to finally find release from the pain I feel."

"You're going through a lot right now and wishing that you just didn't have to feel any of it makes sense."

"Yeah... and when I see people doing better than me while I am feeling this way, it hurts even more. And when people say it'll get better, it hurts because I feel like when it does, it'll just go back to being shit again. Just like it always has."

"That must be painful, seeing how bad it's going to get even when it's going well at the time. Going back for just a second, are you feeling suicidal tonight?"

"A little? I was about an hour ago. I'm calming down a bit, but I probably will when I go to bed later... It sounds really weird. I think I might be bipolar, I don't think I'm depressed."

"Okay, do you have a specific plan in mind for your suicide?"

"I don't. I'd freak out in a panic attack before I could ever do such a thing. I can't go by it on my own will."

"Thank you for sharing that with me. I want you to know it was really brave of you to reach out for support tonight."

"Sure. I was just thinking about what a coward I am the other day. So I find it a little dumb to be seen as brave."

"Sometimes we can be kinda hard on ourselves during overwhelming times. I think it's incredibly strong that you are speaking up about how you’re feeling.

If a friend was going through the crazy amount of stress that you’re facing right now, would you think of them as cowardly?"

"I'm not sure. I've never thought about it that way before. I was raised in a home where people hid their emotions, so it's really hard because I try to do that, but I just can't sometimes.

I think it's made it easier for me to pick up on others emotionally as well."

"That's totally valid and understandable. It can be painfully difficult sometimes to talk about feelings and be compassionate toward ourselves.

You sound like a very caring person."

"I like to think so. I definitely don't think I act like it though."

"How do you mean?"

"I'm fairly selfish and sarcastic, especially in my private life. Professionally I'd push a boulder up the hills of hell over and over to make people happy. (Unless of course I'm triggered, then I just kinda close up and want to cry.) 

But anyways. I cant talk to you forever. How can I go about asking a friend or telling a family member about my struggles? I'm nervous about rejection or being a burden."

"Do you have a family member or friend in mind?"

"Not really...I'm not sure if it would be a good idea to talk to someone close or not. I don't want to end a friendship over my situation, or offend any friends who already have their own problems... I definitely don't want to worry my fiance. He deals with his own issues on his own and I don't need him worrying about me... He gets uncomfortably down when I tell him I'm not doing okay..."

"I understand. It sounds like not knowing how that person will respond is what is stopping you from reaching out. Is that right?

What would happen if they responded poorly?"

"I'd probably get sad or mad depending on who it is... just perpetuating the problem."

"That makes sense. Do you feel like that risk is worth taking the step?"

"I don't know. I tried talking to my boss about it, and one of my many managers at my other job. The first took me fairly seriously, but because I never took action afterwards I think she might think of me as a joke. She also didn't really listen to my requests of being in a different department. And my other manager at my other job, he was too positive and basically shrugged my feelings off completely. I cried in the fitting rooms that day."

"I'm so sorry that happened. Is there anyone else close to you that you would consider talking with?"

"Maybe I should start a blog, like a diary, to share conversations like this, and vent my feelings when I need to? Not yet. I might be close, but not yet. Well, there might be one person, but she just had a baby and I really don't want to bother her." (And then I came across Vocal a few months later)

"Journaling/writing in a diary can be a fantastic way to make sense of thoughts and feelings. Is that something you'd want to try tonight?"

"I don't think I will tonight. But I might tomorrow. I just want to try and relax before I have to work my ass off the next few days."

"That sounds like a really good idea. We've been chatting for a while now, and I want to check in. How are you feeling now?"

"I'm feeling a lot better. My phone is going to die soon, and I'm getting tired, so I'll probably go to bed after this video I'm watching is over. Thanks for being here for my episode. I've never talked to anyone like this before.

Is it okay if I share this conversation with others?"

"You are more than welcome. We are always here for you. Feel free to text in again if you're ever in crisis."

"Thank you."

Thank you so much, Logan. And thank you, reader, for sticking it through. I hope that you feel less alone reading this, and give the crisis text line a try if you are feeling like you can't do anything anymore, or that you are in a dark place you need to escape.

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