September tenth is World Suicide Prevention Day. Did you even know there was such a day? I didn't.
Breast cancer has a whole month of the year where everything you see is pink and you are informed about the horrors of detecting, having, and fighting cancer. It is public because it needs to be for women (and sometimes men) to be proactive about early detection and seeking help immediately. The combatants in the arena of cancer are rightly painted as brave gladiators and tough survivors.
But what about a condition that is just as deadly, but infinitely more difficult to detect?
In my experience, the reason there isn't more awareness around depression is because it is painted as coward's disease. People suffering from it are painted as damaged, flawed, and weak. Is it any wonder that those suffering from it, often do so in silence? Who among us wants to be portrayed as any of those things, especially when you already believe the worst of yourself?
Depression is a silent specter that stalks many throughout their lives, hiding away in the shadows, almost forgotten, but emerging at their most vulnerable to drag them down further into the abyss. If you suffer from depression, you always know it is there. It is there in the terrible thoughts you have while you do the most mundane of tasks. It is there in the nagging voice telling you that you are a waste of space and even though you have silenced it thousands of times before, some days you can't help but believe it. And, unlike cancer, there is no cure. It never goes away. You can medicate it into submission, but it will still be there and on low days, it finds you. The battle never stops.
It becomes a part of you, the pain and sadness. It festers and consumes everything, so you can't remember a time without it, and that in and of itself makes getting help scary. The familiar, however painful and awful, seems infinitely better than the unknown.
I was a coward. I did not wish to seek help, because how could I admit that my own mind had turned against me? I had a job, a loving boyfriend, a nice place to live, a family that cared...by admitting that I still wasn't happy, was I saying all of that wasn't good enough? How dare I even think that I deserved help when so many others have it so much worse?
Eventually, I got help and realized that depression may mean that I am broken, but I am not weak. I am not less than anyone else. I have a right to seek help, no matter what my situation, because my happiness matters.
I am proud to say that I am here today, still fighting. And most days, I would like to think I am winning. I'm here because my loving boyfriend, now my loving husband, supported me and forced me to get help. I'm here because my family loves and supports me everyday. I'm here because I will be damned if depression is going to steal even another moment of my life. But most importantly, I'm here because I choose to be.
But do not for a moment think that I am not scared. I am scared to write this. I am scared to talk about my experiences. I am scared that the depression will come back. I am scared that I will be judged as tainted, damaged, and unfit. But I want to be here for others who suffer. I need to be here for them. I need it, because they need me. They need me to tell them that depression lies when it says that you only have death. Get help and tell it to go fuck itself. Life is worth the fight.
There is a lot of joy yet to find.