By Faith Chesbrough
One in five Americans suffer from mental illness each year. Doubting ourselves, feeling down, or being anxious are pretty normal things humans deal with, yet we so often downplay or ignore depression, fear, and loneliness all to keep up the mirage that everyone is fine - that no one has problems. Some people even claim people who voice their feelings or problems are just trying to get attention, and maybe in some cases they are, but at least people are now more aware of the depression and anxiety that plague part of this human race. It is estimated that 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression, and 1 in every 13 suffer from anxiety. Probably more so than we would like to admit. These feelings can fester and grow if not dealt with, like a knot in your back or a bleeding wound.
One of the most comforting things to help with these sorts of problems is to know that you are not alone. That no matter what your struggle is, there is someone out there who can relate, or who has felt the same things. Even if you aren’t comfortable with talking about your problems, you can still do them anonymously, with a stranger, or with a friend. In this case, a friend would talk to me, but only anonymously recorded under the name “Alex”. Alex shares feelings and past experiences to inspire others, and promotes the openness, understanding, and unity of humans.
1. Q: Have you ever felt anxious, depressed, or isolated?
Alex: Yeah, I pretty much feel that way 95% of the time. I think it’s partially normal 20’s life crisis stuff - the other part is the cycle of anxiety, bipolar, depression, and PTSD I have.
2.. Q: What do you think made you feel this way?
Alex: I think the depressive, down state made it stay. Various things caused it. Family stuff, friends, things from my past, people in general - my assault.
3.. Q: What is it like to feel depressed?
Alex: For me, it’s like having a little voice in my head that is screaming at me. It’s telling me everything wrong with me and my life, and that it would be much easier to just give up.
4. Q: Was there ever a point in your life where you wanted to give up?
Alex: There was a point where I got very depressed about my family not talking to me, not supporting me, and I became very suicidal. I wanted to give up on everything.
5. Q: What caused your family to stop talking to and supporting you?
Alex: When I decided to move out of my dad’s house and into my mom’s house, they took that as me choosing her. To them, I’m not focused on money, they have issues with me having tattoos and piercings, I defended my mom, etc. - there are many reasons they stopped.
6. Q: Have you ever done anything to act on your feelings?
Alex: Well, I have uptimes and downtimes being bipolar and manic depressive. During the downtimes I reach a point of feeling like giving up. At those lowest points, I feel empty or too full, and I just want to give up. I reach that point and give up for the day by usually going to bed, doing nothing, or sleeping but I still contemplated completely giving up. I started to cut myself, but stopped. I went driving recklessly, looking for an accident. I stood with a bottle of pills in my hand, but I threw them down the drain.
7. Q: How did you deal with these feelings of depression and suicide?
Alex: The best thing for me to do was to talk to people, cuddle my dog, and then go to sleep to kind of hit ‘restart.’ I honestly haven’t found the best way to deal with those feelings. I also started going to therapy.
8. Q: Did you go to therapy on your own?
Alex: Well, when I was younger, I was forced to go to therapy for my parents’ divorce. That happened on and off for years. When I was 16 and started to feel very depressed, I talked to my doctor and guidance counselor. They told me to see a therapist, and my parents supported that. My friends supported me,too.
9. Q: Do you have anything you want to say to anyone who may too be dealing with negative thoughts or feelings?
Alex: Advice? I guess I would say to tell people to open up. It’s really fucking hard, but it’s worth it and really truly helps if you just have someone to talk to, someone to tell you not to give up. Tell the voice in your head that it is wrong and stupid. I also highly recommend therapy, and having a pet or even a stuffed animal. Just something soft and comforting to hold during those tough times. Something you can hug and hold onto. Support.
Speaking up is hard, but never forget that you are not alone. Saying something may even be the way to make this connection and take the first steps towards relief, identity, and release.
If anyone needs a crisis counselor to just vent to or to find solace in, you can text “GO” to 741-741, or visit this website for more resources for specific issues or problems: http://www.crisistextline.org/textline/?gclid=COXEic7l68oCFYEjHwodShYGTg.