How many people do you know who are depressed? That’s a trick question, of course, because we as humans are so good at hiding our true emotions, at putting on a brave face and fooling everyone else. At times we use a sarcastic sense of humor to mask that pain that would drag us down otherwise. Sometimes it still drags us down anyway.
How many times after someone has committed suicide do we hear their friends and loved ones expressing shock that the person in question was even depressed? How often does it dismay us and make us question our own emotional make up? If it could happen to him, couldn’t it also happen to us?
I know depression. I don’t claim to be an expert on it by any means, but I know what it feels like. It’s this lead weight strapped to you, pulling you down with it as you struggle to remain afloat. And it doesn’t matter what people tell you, how happy them seem around you, all you see is this tunnel vision of you being useless, being hopeless, being unnecessary.
It’s a sickness, and the only way to get well is to face it head on, to look it in the face, acknowledge it for what it is, but tell it that it has no power over you. The problem is that when you’re depressed you either want to avoid or to wallow, because you have no energy to face it down. Because you have no motivation to get past it. Because that’s what being depressed is. And no one should ever take it lightly. No one should ever say, “he should have just gotten over it.”
Because it’s not that easy. Depression is the silent killer precisely because of it’s so hard to discern who really is depressed most of the time, and because too often we ignore the signs when they are there. Until it’s too late, and we’re looking at more than just another statistic. Until we’re looking at someone we love lying there in a casket and we think back to all those times we could have tried harder, to all those warning signs we missed.