I’ve written within other posts about my depression. And a little bit about how I’ve been fighting it. But, what I’ve never really written about is how to be there for someone you know or think might be suffering from depression.
I fully support the idea of using medication to treat depression. The brain is a chemical computer. If you can’t get the chemicals to work the way they should, they need a little bit of help. I’ve seen too much of an improvement in my life thanks to zoloft to say otherwise. But, I’ve also used talk therapy with a couple of licensed clinical social workers to work out problems. And it just plain helps to talk to someone. Whether your asking questions, or just venting. And when it comes to someone you know or suspect might be suffering from depression, the same holds true. Be there for them. Keep a line of communication open. Let them know you are always there for them. It means more than you know.
One of the worst things that depression does to you is make you think you’re all alone. That nobody knows, or even cares what your going through. It’s incredibly insidious in that way. You don’t need anyone to walk away from you. It makes you walk away from everyone who loves and cares for you. I can’t tell you how many days and nights I laid in my bed or sat in my car isolating myself from the world because I thought I was alone. I had a very hard time opening up to my mom about the depression and my gender issues mainly because I feared she would turn her back on me. Some of that was rooted in my own father leaving when I was 5 years old. But, some of that was also the depression. It’s like a devil sitting on your shoulder whispering in your ear. Well, a little bit like that. Because if your really hearing voices, that’s something else entirely.
I’m so fortunate to have so many supportive friends. Whether it’s an encouraging word on twitter. Or just lunch with an old friend where the topic of depression or gender dysphoria isn’t even broached, just knowing someone who cares about you is within reach means more than you could ever know. When I finally found the courage to walk into the GLBT Center to attend a support group meeting, I learned of a new term. Ally. In the realm of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, it means someone outside of the community who stands in support of you. They don’t even have to understand what your going through. But, they are willing to stand next to you in support. That’s how I feel when it comes to depression. I have many many friends who support my gender transition. But, even before I came out to them, they were, and continue to be there for me when I’m depressed. And that, more than anything is why I am alive today.
Recently, I found myself thinking just how wonderful it might be if I jumped off a bridge. I found the idea of doing a swan dive the most wonderful and peaceful way to end my suffering. It had been a very long day. The combination of being tired and probably the zoloft wearing off contributed to these thoughts. But, there’s also the fact that I’m not living the life I want to live. I get tired of pretending. I just want to be me. Shortly after having these thoughts, I sent out a tweet. I got many many messages of support from friends. I didn’t send the tweet off as a way of getting attention. I was just keeping the lines of communication open. Just like I’m doing with this blog, I am trying to be open and as honest with everyone about what I’m going through. In turn, my friends were there for me.
While I still find it hard to talk face to face about all of this, I do appreciate how much it helps. That’s one of the reasons I try to meet my online friends at events such as Ignite. I want to shake their hand or give them a hug. I like to look them in the eye and say Thank you.
So, until I have done that with you. That’s what I am doing here. Thank you. So very much. From the bottom of my heart.