I normally like Matt Walsh and his blog, but his post about suicide is terribly misinformed. There is a HUGE difference between feeling depressed because of life or situational circumstance and BEING depressed. As someone who suffers from Bipolar disorder, I can tell you that I no more have the control over my sudden need to rearrange my living room furniture at 2am after having churned out 7 new blog posts in under an hour, and the thoughts of despair I feel while lying in bed, unable to move, unable to will myself to eat and only breath because it’s involuntary.
I do not often speak out on issues, let alone this one, but this is a time when I can’t keep quiet.
Robin Williams is a man I looked up to. I looked up to him because he wrestled his demons of depression and addiction and (for the bulk of my life until yesterday) won. I looked at him as someone who showed me that fighting is the point.
I also looked at him and saw a man who used humor to make sense of it all. I was a loud, seemingly outgoing young lady who suffered from horrible depression, deep self doubt, and a lack of self esteem. I learned to wear the laughing, the loudness and the humor like body armor.
But no matter what your job, age, occupation, or need for self depreciating humor might be, there are two types of depression. Situational, such as losing someone, and chemical.
I can no more tell my body to stop fucking with my brain chemistry than you can control whether or not the sun comes up today. So to say that suicide or depression are a choice pains me. No, I clearly have not committed suicide. I haven’t even tried recently, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t tried.
Some people hide it so well. Those are the people to worry about. The people who aren’t seeking help, are the people who are hiding it so well that they might still be in denial until the bitter end.
Regardless of your stance on mental health treatments, no matter how much someone is adored, the fact remains that this can happen to people you love and it may come as a huge shock to you.
On this blog, I am honest. I share my life with you. I share the good and the bad, but as someone who uses snark as body amour I can tell you that the people in my personal life have no idea. I am that friend. I am the friend that people would be shocked to learn suffers so deeply in quiet at home. I am the one who smiles, laughs and gets along with everyone.
Do not worry when I complain, worry when I stop. Worry when I don’t tell you I’m sad, I’m hurt or I’m bummed. When it is minor, I will be honest. But when I stop being honest to you about how I feel, it’s because I’m hiding the very vulnerable piece of who I don’t want you to ever see me be.
And while I appreciate the outpouring of love and the desire to understand and help others, I am seeing a lot of people who clearly have no idea what depression, chemical depression, is.
Want to help someone? Call them. Call them and ask them how they are today. When they say fine, say, “No. Tell me how you are. How you REALLY are.” Because chances are, no one’s ever asked them that before and you being the first just might be the first person to ever tell that person that they don’t have to make you laugh for you to want to be their friend.
Humor, comedians and self depreciating humor and depression and mental health issues sort of go hand in hand. There’s tons of studies that back that up and I can’t speak to the psychology as to exactly what that might be. But I can tell you from a personal standpoint that I don’t want people to know that side of me.
I don’t want people to know the part of me that isn’t always laughing. And I never want to seem boring or like I’m complaining. I was taught that crying, among other things, is weakness. Stoicism. That is what people want from friends and life partners. And that is what I offer.
I offer a sharp wit, a snarky sense of humor, a love of all things sarcastic and the ability to make fun of myself with painfully honest, yet still humorous observations about my true nature and character.
If you look at many of our favorite funny people, they do too.
And if you look at those around you, funny or not, a smiles doesn’t mean they are happy, a joke doesn’t mean they don’t hurt, and everyday people you love are going home to hide in the dark to rest before putting their armor back on to face the world again tomorrow.