How often do people declare that they feel depressed? Most of us use the term on a semi-regular basis. Our friends give us a pat on the back and then tell us it's all okay, before going back to living their lives.
But what if it wasn't all okay?
My name is Ladia (not my real name, obviously), and I have battled chronic depression since I was 13 years old. So exactly half my life. And I've spent about a third of that fighting the supreme urge to take myself out of this life. I don't fit the stereotype of a depressed person; I smile, laugh, hang out with friends, go to work, go on dates with my partner and do stuff that a normal 26 year old woman would be doing. Only a handful of my closest friends and family are fully aware of the daily struggle I face just to live my life.
Once upon a time, I warned people of this fact upon meeting them. I was naive back then and believed that everyone I surrounded myself with would be good enough to be supportive when I needed it. I couldn't count the number of times I got hurt because of that simple, innocent belief. It didn't exactly help matters.
So I learned to withdraw into myself. I didn't cry in public if I could help it, not even at funerals. I hid my deepest, darkest thoughts and fears from everyone, even my own family. I bottled up so much pain inside me that when I finally exploded earlier this year, I swear the mushroom cloud would have covered an entire city.
It started with a very basic, but painful discussion. A friend and I had had an argument. Nothing major really, but when I approached him hesitantly about trying to make amends, things quickly spiralled out of control. Before the night was out, my partner's sister was calling me (from the other side of the country, mind you) after seeing messages on my Facebook that implied that I wanted to kill myself. And she was right. As I was driving home, I had to fight the urge to just plow my car into a tree or deliberately swerve over the edge of a bridge. She called me just seconds after I pulled into my driveway.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I alternated between wanting to work up the courage to try to reason things out with my friend, fearing that I would only be met with a tirade of verbal abuse if I did, and the increasing desire to terminate my existence. After about a month and a half of this, I got the biggest surprise of my life.
I became particularly close to a Live Action Roleplaying buddy. She took it into her head (without telling me, mind you) to track this 'friend' down and give him a taste of what I was going through, and to urge him to call me and apologise. After some painstaking Facebook-stalking, she managed to find him and sent him a message. From what I've since found out, over the course of several days of online chatting she described my mood swings in acute detail and persuaded him that I didn't deserve to be going through that, and even got him to agree that it was largely triggered by his behaviour towards me.
Within 24 hours I received a message from him. At this point I had no idea of the scheming my LARP buddy had done, and so it was a big surprise to hear from him, all the more so when I read what he actually had to say. He felt tremendously guilty, he told me, when he discovered what his actions had put me through.
My journey is far from over. Depression is now such a part of my life that I don't think it will ever go entirely. But I cling to my family and my friends for dear life. Incidentally, had I known in advance of 'the plot', I would have done all in my power to persuade her not to bother contacting my friend. But now, I'm so glad she did. Because she reminded me that whilst sometimes the pain of living can be too much for me to bear, there are enough people on this earth who want to give me something to live for.
End random rant.