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An open letter to my depression

But first:

I wrote this several days ago but hesitated about posting it because it’s so uncomfortably personal and because I worried that it might come across as whiny, melodramatic, or crazy.  But after reading the comments made by Mitch McConnell and his aides, in which they discussed attacking Ashley Judd’s mental health as a campaign strategy, I decided to post it.  Not because I think Mitch McConnell or Ashley Judd will read it, of course, but because I was so angered by Mitch’s actions that I wanted people to understand what it is like to be depressed and to know that by openly talking about her depression and getting help for it, Ashley displayed immense courage and strength—two things Mitch clearly does not possess. 

Dear Depression,

Well, hello there.  You’re back again, I see.  I’d like to say that it’s good to see you, but that would be a lie.  But you know all about that, don’t you?  Lying, I mean.  Because that’s what you do.  You show up uninvited and unannounced and start telling me lies.  Only, I never can see your lies for what they are until you’re gone.  You almost always travel with your good pal, Anxiety.  He usually shows up first and then you ride in on his coattails, unpack your suitcase, and make yourself at home.   You stick around for a while, but then slowly gather your things and leave.  But you’ll be back, whispering not-so-sweet nothings in my ear until I pay attention to you.  And then I’ll be all yours again for a while.

We definitely have a dysfunctional relationship, you and I.  I feel like you are an abuser and I am the victim who is powerless to get away from you.  You are a control freak, a bully, a manipulator, and, above all, a liar.

Here is what you tell me:

–          that I am fat, ugly, and funny-looking

–          that I am pathetic, dumb, and weird

–          that no matter what I do, I make a fool of myself

–          that I should have never had kids because I have no doubt passed on my mental illness to them

–          that I should have never had kids because if they somehow managed to escape getting my crazy gene, then my mental illness-fueled parenting will no doubt fuck them up anyway

–          that I have made only wrong choices in my life

–          that it’s too late to try to undo any of those choices

–          that I have wasted my entire life

–          that everybody else has it all figured out but I am too stupid to do this for myself

–          that I should just give up but I can’t because I have kids now and even though I’m a terrible mother, their having a terrible mother is slightly better than their having no mother at all

–          that I have no business being a part of this world

–          that the world is totally screwed up anyway, so why even bother?

–          that people who don’t feel this same profound sadness are living in La La Land and aren’t seeing just how awful the world is

–          that I will never be happy because you will never, ever leave me, even if you go away for a time, you always comes back and always will

–          that I am not—and never will be—normal

When you aren’t here, I can see that these things are not true (or at least are not completely true), but when you are here, it is as if your words are the gospel.  You’re so convincing, often providing me evidence to prove your points:  Remember that time you had a birthday sleepover and nobody came?   What about your son’s continual anxiety about pre-school?  That’s obviously your fault.  How about the fact that the woman you were talking to the other day seemed to think you were pregnant when really you are just a fat ass?  Look at all your friends.  They have all accomplished things in their lives, but you haven’t and never will.

You make me feel as if everyone has an instruction manual for life but that mine is missing some pages and that there is no way I can ever find them and repair the book.  It’s too late, you tell me.  This is just how it is.

I have never given you a name even though a lot of people you visit have.  Naming gives power and you already have more power than I want you to.  You’re kind of like Lord Voldemort in that way:  He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.  Hell, you are Lord Voldemort.  You strike fear into people.  You damage them in profound ways.  You kill many of them.

I guess the fact that you have so many other victims should make me feel less alone, less like a freak, but then you tell me that those people have a reason for feeling like they do.  They have endured a terrible tragedy or suffered horrible abuse or live with constant pain or poverty or fear.  I have no real reason to feel like I do.  I am just weak and pitiful.

I know that you will later tell me that I should have never blogged about this, that I am just giving everyone another reason to think I am pathetic.  Well, if it’s like you say and they think that anyway, what have I got to lose?

Until we meet again,

Shannon

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10 thoughts on “An open letter to my depression

  1. This is exactly, exactly right, and you are courageous to post it! Depression really is a lying bastard. If it’s telling you you’re worthless, that’s an extra big lie. I think you’re terrific, and who are you gonna believe, that big liar or your (obviously brilliant and insightful) friend? :-). Kisses. This will pass.

  2. Just wanted to say that I always in some way or another relate to alot of what you have to say. Whether it be on your blog or your FB comments. I find your writings to be not only insightful but witty and full of humor! Just remember that this too will pass and what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger!

  3. Right on, my friend. I am so impressed by your honesty in this piece and I cannot express how proud I am of you for writing it! You are absolutely right…all of the things your depression tells you are complete and utter LIES! How dare him to talk about my friend like that! You are beautiful, intelligent, fun, funny, a wonderful mother to your children, and a best friend to me that I am truly blessed to have in my life.

  4. Shannon, I thought I responded to this when I first read it but apparently not. This is so brutally honest and insightful. I am so proud of you for writing it. As someone who is borderline bipolar, I know how hard it is to not fall victim to the lies of depression, even when you know they are lies. And they are ALWAYS lies. You are one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, witty people I know and I am proud to call you friend.

  5. I just spent the morning looking out the window and googling dietary remedies for depression. Here’s what I learned…I need to stop coffee and alcohol. I thought, “Cutting those out can’t help depression because just thinking about it makes me even sadder.”

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