My friend and beloved ex-neighbour Amy was over the other night. Amy is 20 years old, beautiful, toned and strong, fearless and has an infectious, beautiful laugh. Amy finds everything funny and is really good company.
But trying to explain depression to her was as useful and enjoyable for either of us as releasing a bagful of confetti into the air on a windy day…and then hoping to collect every single one back on the same day.
“All you have to do” Amy began, as she tucked one toned leg under the other and settled onto the leather sofa in the living room “Is two small things – they’re sooo easy”
“Yep” 20-year-old Amy continued, absentmindedly brushing her gorgeous glossy fringe from her beautiful face “First of all, you have to stop caring what everyone thinks of you. You have to. Just let it go. F*ck ’em. You dont need their opinion. You do what you have to do for you – f*ck the rest of ’em”
That easy, huh?
“And…when you’re depressed – just choose to be happy instead. Yep. When I was in the Himalayas cycling with friends, I didnt let anything stop me achieving my 100kms a day goal. I felt tired sometimes, sure – but I chose to just push through it. You have to be like that with your depression – just choose not to have it”
I stared at her beautiful face, dumbfounded.
“Okay then?” Amy prompted
No, not okay, Amy. If I could choose my way out of depression, I would have done so 20 years ago. I dont choose to feel like a pile of bricks are on my chest and lining my stomach. I dont choose to feel so wracked and overwhelmed by grief, loss and fear that I honestly cant even roll over in bed. I dont choose to feel like a completely unwanted, hated stranger in my own life. Who would choose that for themselves?
If not caring what anyone thought was as easy as that…then I wouldn’t be here, in this horrible emotional jail cell rotting away. I think every person cares to some extent what some people think. I honestly don’t believe there is a single person on this planet who is impervious to what anyone else thinks of them. I really don’t.
It grieves me deeply to hear you advise me so flippantly. I feel even more useless, horrid and stupid. I feel like now this is 100% my fault because I’m not simply choosing something better for myself.
I feel like an alcoholic…who has finally reached out to a beloved friend for help and their friend has said “Just put the bottle down and never pick it up again – simple”…yet in the meantime they’ve lost their job, their family and their home because of the grip alcohol has on them.
How is it that simple to sum someone’s life up?
I didn’t know where to begin explaining how much what Amy had said discouraged, shamed and grieved me.
So instead, I nodded.
“Okay” I echoed.
Feeling accomplished, Amy grinned across at me.
“Hey, have you got any bacon?” and bounced off to the kitchen.