One of the recurring themes I often hear is that we should just change our perspective. Look at life differently. It sounds suspiciously like “just be happy” or like telling someone “just don’t be sick.”
Here is the reality. I’m a thinker. It’s kind of what I do. I tried to think my way out of this shitty disease. It nearly killed me. My brain is literally sick. While we don’t yet understand all of the different mechanisms that cause depression, we do know that at its core, there is a chemical imbalance that causes people like me to see the world through a different lens.
I’m not sad. I’m depressed. The difference between sadness and depression is akin to the difference between tacos and salsa. Sure. Some tacos have salsa in them, but you can’t call salsa a taco. So no, I can’t just make myself happy.
“It’s up to you to reach out when you need help.” Yeah. I get that. Except do you remember that part where I said my brain is sick? It also tells me I’m not worth the effort you’ll expend trying to help me. It tells me lots of things. So yes, I should reach out, and I’m far enough along in my treatment that most times I will. But there are scores like me who won’t. Can you live with that?
My mind is a dark and dangerous place. I’ve spent a lifetime locking away the monsters, banishing them to the deepest and darkest corners of my subconscious. It was the only way I knew to cope and it worked for a while. But like any prison, once capacity is breached, escape and revolt is bound to happen. That’s the reality. It’s why I try to stay busy, to keep myself distracted. Because turning my gaze inward is often an act of accidental self punishment.
While I’m using personal pronouns to illustrate this, it isn’t about me.
It’s about the people suffering in silence, whose behavior changes will go unnoticed until they are hospitalized or dead. And then we’ll mourn and move on but do nothing to change our own behaviors. Until I find a better name for it, I’m lumping this in with social responsibility.
If we don’t take some responsibility for our fellow man, then who will be left to take some responsibility for us?
Photo Credit: Getty Images
(via The Good Men Project)