I'm going to talk about something uncomfortable. Something that I was taught I wasn't supposed to talk about. That something is sadness.
I was 12 when I first realized that what was happening inside my mind had a name and it was called depression. I was 19 before I told anyone about it. And I was in my early 20's when I got to a point that I couldn't handle it on my own. I was so depressed that it was a struggle to get out of bed every day. I felt as though I was sinking farther into myself and father away from anyone else. I was so very heavy with being. I felt isolated inside of a grainy bubble even when I was surrounded by people, everyone's voices muffled just out of reach.
I had a friend going through depression who only felt ok when she was with other people; who felt terrified to be alone at any time. She would sometimes come over just to sit and listen to music while I worked on a painting or did homework. I was there for her, physically, but I didn't understand, not entirely, because I felt the opposite. I felt a little tiny bit better when I was alone because at least I was free to feel what it was I was going through without the added layer of being isolated in a crowd.
My brain chemistry has fluctuated throughout the years. I have done things that have helped and been through things that have made it much worse. I know there is a difference between sadness and depression. I have felt both. I have been anxious. I have felt like breath was being stolen from me as I had a panic attack on the 4th of July under the fireworks in New York City. I thought I was dying. I waited for death to take me away into the silence and painlessness. But I just went on breathing. I left my friend without a word and walked from the upper west side to the lower east side as fast as I could, through the crowded and stifling wet heat. I needed to go crazy inside my mind alone. I didn't want to do it in front of an audience.
I just finished reading Jamie Tworkowski's book, If You Feel Too Much. It is a collection of stories he's lived as the creator of To Write Love On Her Arms, which provides help and hope to people dealing with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. It was beautifully written, and my main take away was this: If we have each other we will be alright. Darkness occurs, everywhere, in all of us. But if we lean on each other and love one another...we will be alright. I fully believe this. I know this to be true because I have sat, many times, at the edge of darkness and wished for someone to help me climb my way back into the light.
I went through the most recent depressive state a few months ago and I was utterly alone. I think that from the outside it probably looks like I've got a lot of people, and support, and things going on. Let me tell you, I have a lot of things going on. I work very hard. I care very much about what I do and it's always on my mind. How can Brunch Club help more people? Spread more awareness? What else can I do? I think about these questions every day. I'm "busy." I get invited to events and I go. I used to go a lot more frequently. But in this time a few months ago something very sad happened. When I needed someone, when I needed to be less alone, when I needed someone to walk me through the darkness, no one was there. My "good friends" didn't answer their phones. They texted that they were super busy, but soon we'd talk. It's always soon. One person, who I had never had any sort of romantic relationship with, even said to me "Why the booty call?" "What? Is that I joke?" I texted back. I reached out through phone calls and texts and I said "I'm not doing so great. Do you think we could get together? At some point? Do you think you could come over? Call me back?" and no one did.
I sank further. I needed help. I didn't need anyone to do anything except talk to me and be there for me in proximity or over a phone call. That's it. And I couldn't find it in any of my friends. Everyone is so busy. When someone takes their own life we go on about what a tragedy it is. We all post on social media regretfully, saying how we wished we could have helped. My message is this: Open your eyes. Because people need each other. We are not designed to spend all of our hours and days and lives alone and we cannot survive that way. We have jobs and commitments and hobbies and so on. But what does any of that mean if we don't have each other? If you care for someone don't let them go through their darkness alone. They might not make it out the other side.