why i'll lie
why i’ll lie
And saying something is opposite of what I normally want. I’d rather stay quiet. Let’s not wake the monster.
But recently, the monster is awake and making its way through our neighborhood. Famous people are dying and we can’t ignore that, can we? And that’s why I want to say something now. Because there are more people than we know who struggle with this disease. They’re quietly going about their business of being a parent, a coworker, the barista, that musician, the face on tv, a success story, a child walking home from school, your neighbor raking leaves. You?
I can’t speak for them or for you. But if you happen to be concerned about me, happen to decide to ask me about my depression, even ask me if I thought about killing myself, I’ll tell you I’m good. I’ll tell you it’s under control, nothing to worry about. I will thank you for your concern, give you a hug for being such a good friend to me. I’ll lie to you and send you on your way.
And the reason I’ll never tell you the truth is because treatment for depression is frustrating, painful and sometimes dramatically incompetent. There is no cure. Only perpetual intervention.
You might offer a hotline, a referral to a good counselor. You might suggest medication or hospitalization (if that’s even covered by my health plan). You might think I should improve my diet, take supplements, be outside in the sunshine more. You might buy me books, audiotapes. You might think I should try hypnosis or acupuncture or yoga. You might tell me jokes or pepper me with motivational quotes. You might bring me to a support group with ten other suffering people or buy me a vacation to some peaceful beach. You might bring me a pie, some flowers, a poem. You might bring me Jesus or Buddha.
And I might try all those things. More than once. And wind up in the same dark place, only slightly more hopeless. For the person thinking about ending their life, death seems like a compassionate act compared to all the other things that have failed. It feels more compassionate than continuing to lie about it.
You might ask me if I’m glad I’ve survived. And I’d have to try to explain to you how I’m not sure. How most days, even as good things are happening all around me, deciding to stay is a deliberation. To weigh all the beauty against all the pain is no contest, yet I try every day. I usually feel pretty stupid for choosing pain, over and over again.
One day, we’ll all surrender our surviving, won’t we?
You might ask me what you can do for me. And I’d say I really can’t bear concerned calls or emails or ‘how are you feeling?’ Please pause before offering me your advice or prayers. You can love me, but not because you think love can fix what’s broken here. Love is powerful, but it’s not the key to this house.
So I’ll need you to just let me be a person with depression. I’ll need you to understand why I lie to you about it. I’ll need you to not get too queasy when I fall apart sometimes and why I won’t want you to watch me disintegrate. I’ll need you to not be afraid in the dark. I’ll need you to be able to be in the same room with someone who is inconsolable, unembraceable, even angry that you can’t give her a remedy.
I need you to be so ok with my depression that it doesn’t invite your own.
That is a lot to ask. That’s why I’ll never ask.
This writing was an outcome of a prompt in the BRAVE Insight Writing series. If you’d like to join me in some brave writing, you can find more details and sign up HERE.
Copyright Cynthia Berg 2018