If It Ever Gets That Bad (What People With Depression Want You To Know)

Everyone who has battled with depression has their own analogy for it and for me, it’s drowning. I’ve been riding high and dry the last few years but after Baby Grouch Number Two was born, I was swiftly sucked out to sea in a riptide. It happened quickly, a sharp jerk that startled and surprised me. Because, we’re always surprised when it comes back, aren’t we?  We always think it’s gone for good because we are strong and capable and we really don’t have anything to be sad about, anyway. We’ve got it all. Except no matter what, it creeps back in, like a looping vine ruining the landscaping in the backyard that we can never get rid of, even with the strongest of weed killers.

Every depressive sometimes considers how they might end it, if it got bad enough. It might just be a flicker of a thought, a blip of morbidity that occurs right after the thought about how to prepare the chicken for dinner and right before the thought about do we have any vanilla ice cream to go with the apple pie for dessert.

It is a thought that exists like any other, it isn’t special. Did I get the mail out of the mailbox? Is tomorrow trash day? Should I just end it today? When is the Smith-Miller wedding?  Oh, look, Adidas shoes are on sale, awesome.  It is not selfish, it is not dramatic, it is just THERE, coexisting with all the other not-selfish, not-dramatic thoughts.

A million little ideas nag and grab hold of us, constantly running through our heads, repeating in our brains, it’s just that the How Would I End It thought is not benign, and is one that we have to constantly battle.  And I don’t mean the same type of battle as the one about remembering to put the car keys on the hook or the one about remembering to take the coffee cup off the roof of the car before driving off, I mean a real, legitimate, drag-out-fight for our lives.  The How Would I End It thought has a whole military brigade of buddies, it never shows up alone, it’s just one of the many dark thoughts that sour our brains, capable of becoming quite dangerous, when all working together.  For me, the thoughts I am fighting are usually lapping waves, that push at my back at regular intervals, sometimes lightly and sometimes with enough force to knock me from my feet.  I can usually scramble and keep my chin up high, just barely above the surface, while I reach down and curl my toes, grasping at the sand.  I make it back to shore.

I know I need to keep a relatively fit body, and need to practice gratitude and remind myself how good I really have it, to keep the constant tide at bay, to prevent the blips from becoming an all-consuming internal barrage of horrific self-talk.  Those things help, they really do.  But I also know that someday doing those things might not be enough.  I know that the possibility exists for stormy thoughts to create a tsunami.  It’s pretty fucking hard to battle a tsunami.  Most people wouldn’t call death by tsunami a selfish act.

If it ever gets that bad, I will get the names of doctors from people I trust.  And I will actually attempt to call one.

If it ever gets that bad, I will stop lying on the forms asking me to rate my anxiety and depression.

If it ever gets that bad, I will remind myself of some tricks and tips to help make things better, if only temporarily, if only by a smidge.

If it ever gets that bad, know that being angry at me or trying to guilt me into feeling better is equivalent to shoving my head back under water.  It will only make things worse.

If it ever gets that bad, please don’t take it personally.

If it ever gets that bad, please support me by just being there.

If it ever gets that bad, please remind me where I can get help from, and remind me that it’s okay to ask for the help when I need it.



28 thoughts on “If It Ever Gets That Bad (What People With Depression Want You To Know)

  1. I completely agree with a lot of this, but mostly the part about guilting you to feeling better. That is one of the worst “reactions” I have noticed some people do when I’ve been depressed. The hard part is I know they’re just trying to help. They just don’t know how to go about helping sometimes.

  2. Wonderful piece!
    I love every line…

    Most times people around do not really understand that depression is not a synonym for sadness, which you can ‘shake off’ and they wonder why it’s so hard for somebody who is depressed to just be happy. They then launch into ‘sermon’ and sometimes snap just in a bid to get the person to look on the bright side, which in that state they wouldn’t be able to see…

    If it gets that bad, support from friends and help are the most important…you articulated this well

  3. Really well written, and I think it describes the ebb and flow of depression very accurately. Hopefully others with depression will see your message.

  4. Good piece, honest and open.
    For me, the most upsetting comments were ‘Snap out of it’ or ‘Don’t be ridiculous’ when something relatively trivial to them was likely to tip me over the edge. Outwardly, things may seem OK, but inside, everything is far from settled, especially when you have other responsibilities that have to take priority.
    It’s knowing people who care are supportive, don’t see you as being silly, and won’t pressurize you into trying to put into words WHY you feel the way you do that helps.
    I was lucky, had the support of a good boss, GP and certain family members, so although it took time, I was able to rebuild my life. Depression still lurks though as it never fully goes away..

      1. Yep. You also find out who your friends are, as those who don’t understand (or actually don’t ‘have time’ to try) soon desert you. But then, you don’t need them anyway, and it’s their loss, not yours.

  5. Can I just say, I love this. It’s one of the most accurate descriptions of depression I’ve read, and your explanation of the ‘how do I end it’ thought is so true. Would you allow me to reblog this on my page, Stop The Silent Killer? Stay strong, you’re awesome!

  6. I’ve began to work harder at keeping anxiety at bay. That one seems a tad easier to control. It’s when anxiety is heightened and depression rears her ugly head….that sucks the life out of me.

    Just keep swimming…just keep swimming!

  7. I’m so glad that you wrote this and so very much hope that you’re feeling MUCH better after the riptide carried you out. This line “It is not selfish, it is not dramatic, it is just THERE, coexisting with all the other not-selfish, not-dramatic thoughts.” That line. Is incredible and important. It breaks my heart a little bit when people say that those who are depressed are selfish. As if suicide is committed with rational thought of all of the people who will be affected. xxoo to you and if it ever gets that bad, feel free to add me to your list of people who will help in any way possible.

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