Depression is a fickle disease, a volatile disease, and an indiscriminate disease. It affects both women and men, the young and the old, the rich and the poor. In short, depression knows no bounds, and I would know — I have been struggling with it since I was 15 years old. But what makes life with depression particularly difficult isn’t necessarily the disease itself, but the invisible way it which it manifests.
It’s a painful illness that’s impossible ignore and also to define. But on November 19, writer and father Craig Stone took to Twitter and managed to encapsulate what life with depression is really like — in less than 50 words.
“See that bench,” his tweet began. “8yrs ago I sat on it thinking about throwing myself off Blackfriars Bridge. Today, I took this pic of my son. Tomorrow might be the same. But it might also be brighter. It might even bring unimaginable brilliance. Hang in there. Love is always coming. #depression”
Right there, in eight brief sentences, Stone hits the nail right on the head. Because the reality of depression is that some days your disease will make you believe your family is better off without you — that the world is better off without you — and other days, you will be good.
You will be able to laugh and smile because the cloud that usually hangs over you is at bay. And while Stone’s tweet is resonating with others — it has been liked 14,000 times and shared well over 4,000 — it struck a particular nerve with me, because I too have sat on a park bench contemplating my life. In fact, I sat on a park bench when I tried to take my life.
I was 17 and tried to kill myself with a bottle of Tylenol and a can of Coke.
But the similarities between Stone’s circumstances and my own do not end there. You see, I am now a parent — the mother of a little girl — and while I love my daughter like nothing I’ve ever loved before, I have stared into her bright eyes, eyes full of promise and hope, and contemplated suicide.
I know that’s a hard thing for others to make sense of. To understand how a person can love someone else so dearly — to have so much to actually live for — and yet still want to end it all.
But the truth is, even having family and loved ones close by cannot always save someone from the depths of depression. At least, not on their own. However, knowing there is love on the other side does help. Knowing there is light on the other side helps. And having a reason to hang on helps.
It may not “cure” you or “fix” you, but it helps.
If you too find yourself struggling with this, remember: today may be dark. Tomorrow may be, too. But there is always help. There is always hope, and if you hang in there, you will see the light.
As Stone reminds us, “Love is always coming.”