Depression Talk - a Bullseye Drawn.

Were I capable of taking my own life, I probably found the place where it's done.  Now that the darkest dark seems to have passed, I'm telling you what I found. I'm practicing reaching out.

If you didn't hear from me, it's because I'm wary of your intentions. I know you care, and I believe you want the best for me.  A hug can become an extra burden.  Questions and empathy bruise when my answers aren't received the way I gave them. I'm afraid of being smoothed over.

The standard response to things we don't understand is to disregard or re-frame to fit into something more comfortable for us; it's natural. The knee-jerk reaction is to drop everything and address someone else's problem. We instinctively seek a fast resolution so we can go back to tending our own.

Please note I never used the words "someone needs help."  Needing help is frowned upon in our culture, and nobody wants to be needy. We don't want to believe it about ourselves.  Other words will be useful here.

The truth is going to be different in each situation, because human is only an archetype.  Contents in the baggy skin vary from person to person.

I think it's common for people who struggle with depression and suicide ideation to reach out - if they do - to each other rather than friends and family who seem stable, maybe just to feel like less of a freak.  Definitely to avoid the feeling that someone's trying to fix them. What's off-balance circles back around; we talk to others who know the cycle, know that my cycle isn't the same as yours. Who don't don't try to interpret. This conversation is about being unable to accept the cookie-cutter version of you that's offered by society.  It feels awkward bringing it to joyful cookies for discussion.

I know the right answers already:  this too shall pass, and it will; everyone's got troubles, and they do; I am okay and nobody has the right to judge me. Knowing isn't even a band-aid. A pep talk isn't the answer. Pep is not what I need. Platitudes are not welcome in that place.

Saying "I don't understand" segues into "Please help me understand." That makes it all about you, despite your best intentions. I'm in this state because I've given away too much of myself and I can't trust myself:  if you ask questions I'll try to make you feel better, tell you I'm fine when I'm not.

Listening implies waiting to talk. I think holding space is not the same as listening.  Holding space means you bring your full person - leaving behind what you were juggling, leaving your perspective, not preparing your words to respond - and just existing right there.  You are literally a wall on which your friend can bounce ideas that aren't yours and on which you will not give opinions.

There are many kinds of love, and losing a loved one is horrible - I know because I've done it many ways - and survivors often wonder what they could have done.  Please realize that a person who hasn't died may still be lost to you. I feel there's a place that's the same as the one where someone takes his own life, only the life doesn't get taken.  How can that weigh differently?

I'm in uncharted territory. If people ask me whether I'm okay, I will say yes. If I hesitate before saying yes, I've thought and feel confident that I'm managing well. If I say yes too quickly, I'm probably avoiding having that discussion with you. This was the first time I said no when the answer was no.

"Things are not good," I'm saying. "If it gets worse, I'll let you know." Depending on your response, I will. I don't know the best response - I will be feeling for your neutrality. The absence of you wanting an answer or wanting to provide one.

One friend responded with, "Okay." That was a good response.  I am trusting her, and if things get worse I will tell her.

Maybe if someone says they're not okay, you should thank them for their honesty.  Maybe "okay" will help that person be brave enough to be honest again when it matters.  I don't know the answer; I'm looking for it, too.  Definitely there's a conversation to be had, one without edges so nobody gets stabbed.  Maybe there just needs to be a wall of a different kind.

Further Reading:

WTF Is Holding Space.(A Man's Guide)
I've just stumbled onto Connor Beaton, but I think I like this space.

Lifeline - Suicide Prevention
Just keep this number in your phone, or in your pocket. Put my name on it if you don't want any snoops knowing you want to have it handy. Just in case, yeah?

Find the Best Inpatient Rehab Center
Our survival is often balanced in several Venn circles.  If having in-person support might be helpful for you, try this support service.

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