Depression. I’d like to say not a lot of people suffer from it, but that’s not the case, unfortunately. Three hundred fifty million people have depression, and that’s only those that are diagnosed. There are probably countless others that just haven’t said anything.
Depression can manifest in many different ways, from constantly feeling sad and lethargic, to being suicidal. That’s terrifying, there’s no other word for it. There are people feeling hollow and hopeless to the point of ending their own life. The worst part is some of these people are my friends.
The friends that I get up everyday to see, struggle to find why they themselves should live out the day. The ones that I have the happiest memories with and would gladly spend all the time in the world with, don’t want to be alive. And I don’t understand it at all. Why wouldn’t you want to be here when the whole world is at your door?
I don’t see the whole picture though. They could’ve had past experiences that influenced their depression, or may just feel unwanted and unimportant. Some of my friends don’t want to live because they think they have no reason to be alive.
“[You feel] empty, numb, feeling emotion but also not at the same time. You don’t know what’s going on with your head so you shut down emotionally,” said Ash Velasco-Stout, a fellow student that has this disorder.
People that suffer from depression have a chemical imbalance in their brain that’s also affected by physical or emotional stress, according to MayoClinic.org. Mass amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone, is released when people are stressed. And if that isn’t combated by enough serotonin, which balances out the stress hormone, it can lead to depression.
Depression not only affects the ones suffering from it, it also affects others around them who care for the person’s well-being the way my friends and I do. Seeing a friend sad, self-deprecating and feeling alone is hard to bear because I can’t help. Depression is their battle to fight and I can’t win it for them, no matter how much I want to. It’s an illness of the mind, and all the love and support you throw at them rarely is received through the sadness.
As Allie Brosh, the author of “Hyperbole and a Half” wrote, “I’d try to explain that it’s not really sadness anymore, it’s more just this detached, meaningless fog where you can’t feel anything, and you’re horribly bored and lonely, but since you’ve lost your ability to connect with any of the things that would normally make you feel less bored and lonely, you’re stuck in the meaningless void,” Brosh said.
Seeing depression and not being able to do anything about it makes me feel helpless. Not being able to assist my friend leaves me lost sometimes. I want to help the person, but it’s one of those rare instances where you can’t take on the problem yourself. Knowing I can’t help leaves me feeling like I’m not needed. Ironically it’s almost a ripple effect. You want to help with all your heart, but the ability to do that is just out of your reach, making you feel hopeless to help the hopeless. You can’t fight for them, but…what if you stand with them?
I remember an incident with one of the closest friends I have. They were so close that I thought of them as family. She also had depression and used the internet as her outlet. She was saying things online that made me scared for her, and I didn’t want to lose her, especially to depression. So I teamed up with another close friend and we took action.
My friend and I talked to her, persuading and giving her reasons to not kill herself. She saw that taking her own life wasn’t a way out. It wasn’t a way to deal with it, it never is. She made the choice to stay. Now she’s safe and well, still struggling with depression, but not letting it control her and doing a lot better.
You can’t take on other people’s depression, but stay by your friend’s side and let them know you’re there no matter what happens. Show that even through the worst and the best of times, you’ll keep supporting them the whole way. There will always be ups and downs, and it’ll be hard for both of you to go through it, but if you stay by your friend, determined, it can make a huge difference. Show that you’re truly someone that cares about them by being there when they need you most.
If the depression gets to the point of suicide, tell an adult in their life. That will save your friend, and that is the best gift you can give. Just be there for them. Sometimes, that small act of support can save someone’s life.