What’s the big deal?

The funny thing – or I guess not so funny – about depression is that people often react in extreme ways, one way or another. It’s great when people don’t make a huge deal out of it, but sometimes, people can try so hard to be nonchalant about it, that it almost feels like it’s not a big deal. Depression, as common as it may seem now for teenagers, is a big deal. It’s a huge deal. It can lead to a multitude of other issues, from self harm, to addiction, to suicide or other destructive behaviors. At the same time, sometimes people can make it such a big deal, that the depressed person feels awkward, embarrassed or shameful that they have caused such a reaction.

Striking a good balance between the two is often difficult, but can be extremely important. With me, I hated when people would lose all trust in me, as if I was going to break into a million pieces at any second. Granted, that was a possibility, but I didn’t like that untrusting look I would get from people, making me feel like I was a criminal, not someone struggling with a real illness.

I can vividly recall two completely opposite reactions, both of which made me feel completely horrible about myself. The first, was an ignorant response. For whatever reason, I have no recollection of why I was upset, or if there was even a reason, but I was crying uncontrollably. Not whimpering with a few tears, I was completely sobbing, wailing and struggling to catch my breath. In that vast space of darkness and emptiness, all I wanted was something to clutch onto. I remember attempting to reach out to a friend, who did nothing, ignored me, and at one point told me to leave them alone and screw off. It was horrid – here I was, feeling like the world was ending, and I received a response like it was no big deal. With depressive episodes, just because they are recurring, doesn’t mean they aren’t serious, or they aren’t something that requires some notice. It sounds like it could be done simply for attention, but if I wanted attention, there are 1000 other ways I’d rather try.

To take it to the complete opposite extreme, sometimes when I would get hysterically upset, crying, wailing, screaming, and probably completely incoherent, someone would threaten calling an ambulance, the cops, or something else. I say threaten, because in those moments, that was the worst possible choice. I didn’t want to be institutionalized, and yes, I was admitted for a while, but past that, I didn’t need to go back there. I knew that bad days and nights were a part of the struggle and road to recovery, and that the hospital wasn’t a viable option at that point, because it wasn’t what I needed. Sometimes, you just need a good cry, and it’s always easier when you have a shoulder to cry on.

Depression is a big deal. Suicide is a big deal. That doesn’t mean we need to exaggerate and blow things out of proportion to make people feel worse about themselves. It’s a difficult thing to deal with if you haven’t understood depression yourself, and there are very fine lines between the two extremes, but that’s okay as long as you take the time to realize that each situation is unique and should be taken as such. I’ve said it a thousand times, and I’ll say it a thousand more: give that person a hug, comfort them, tell them they’re doing just fine, reassure them that things will be okay, hold them and most of all, let them learn to be okay with their pain, so they can begin to overcome it.

Keep Surviving by Living.

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