Live Through This

Two Blocks Over

A lot of the time, it looks like a person who is depressed has nothing to be upset about.

We can't all be Sylvia Plath.

This summer my sister’s childhood friend killed herself at the age of 19. Our family walked the two blocks to her family’s house for the shiva, spoke with her parents, spoke with friends and strangers. We learned that Katie (not her actual name) had suffered from depression, but showed few signs to her family and friends. Her mom did mention, however, that she’d had hundreds of followers on Tumblr.

I saw Katie’s Tumblr later, untouched. She’d posted her photography and her rants. Stuff about her parents, her relationships, photos of her pets and iPod and dandelions. She’d also posted her suicide note. People reblogged it with doubts as to its authenticity, and claims that she just wanted attention. I’d seen similar posts in my Tumblr feed before, usually by other teenagers, and while I’ve never voiced any doubts of their sincerity, I’ve certainly thought to myself that some of them were just being dramatic. All these seemingly minor complaints about school, or what sounded like fishing for compliments. It felt too artificial, too on a screen, too floating around in cyberspace to be something a human being felt and wrote and wanted the world to see. Now another girl had gone through these same motions, the same supposed over-dramatization and attention-seeking, but this time, she lived two blocks over, and I’d seen people who loved her gathering to comfort her family around a kitchen table where she had sat just three days earlier.

A lot of the time, it looks like a person who is depressed has nothing to be upset about. Especially if that person is a teenager, because hormones, and because teenagers are universally known for being angsty. This means a lot of Tumblr posts/Facebook updates/texts/talking can seem whiny, entitled, attention-seeking, and selfish. Especially selfish. Because when depression makes life feel like a moment-to-moment challenge, it’s hard to have perspective that goes beyond what you need at that exact second to keep from cracking altogether.

In those moments, it is really, really important to do things that make you happy, and that can remind yourself that things will get better. Sometimes this means finding little problems to complain about. Sometimes it means making just-OK art and putting it on the internet. Not everyone can be Sylvia Plath or Kurt Cobain, but that doesn’t mean whatever they’re feeling is any less real. Even as someone who deals with depression I need to remember myself to forget whether a poem qualifies as Good Art and understand its importance to the person who really needs it to exist.

The truth is that a person who “just wants attention” might, in fact, really just want attention. They may just want to complain. They may want to ramble about some stupid detail of what happened at school that day because the bigger problems going on are too scary to think about and too big to go on the internet. This is all part of the cruelty of depression. If the rambling seems senseless, that’s because depression operates without sense. It sneaks up on you even when things are going great. You can have everything you’ve ever wanted, and depression will eventually find its way from the back burner of your brain to the very front. If Katie was seeking attention, well, all the more reason I wish people had listened. ♦

53 Comments

  • Besu October 26th, 2011 3:13 PM

    this was a really sad post but I think I learned something from it x

  • steph.anie11 October 26th, 2011 3:35 PM

    i’m really glad you wrote about depression. i feel like it is often not acknowledged that depression is not always obvious and that people who are seeking attention sometimes really need that attention.

  • Abby October 26th, 2011 3:39 PM

    My sister tried to commit suicide when I was thirteen and she was sixteen. No one saw it coming. She was getting help (she had cut herself and my parents sent her to a psychiatrist), and she seemed fine. I blamed myself for the longest time because I thought I was responsible… Like I should have seen it coming. I know now that no one could have known, even me, her best friend. She got a psychiatrist better suited to her needs and personality, and now she’s in Scotland at her dream school. Lesson? Listen. Take them seriously. But also know that if you didn’t know, it’s not your fault.

  • fizzingwhizbees October 26th, 2011 4:22 PM

    I have depression and sometimes I feel like people won’t believe me if I tell them, like maybe I’m not “depressed enough” because I still laugh and smile. This article was a nice reminder that it’s not true. Thanks Tavi.

    • just_me April 23rd, 2013 5:32 PM

      i can really relate to that. everyone thinks that because im a “naturally happy” person that im never sad. in reality, im bi-polar and i just hide the depression side of it. really well. sometimes people laugh just to try and convince themselves that everything is ok… when its really NOT.

  • Raebbies October 26th, 2011 4:43 PM

    I think it’s very important that people listen to each other. These days no one really stops to listen because it’s alllll about them. besides it takes alot of effort to understand someone and no one really wants to give the time for that. It’s sad.

  • emilyelizabeth October 26th, 2011 4:45 PM

    in january, a girl i knew committed suicide. she was only 18. we were in english class together and i didn’t know her that well, we had just started to become friends a few months earlier. she had such a bright smile and an infectious giggle so i didn’t see it coming at all. it’s hard to know what people are going through when we become so good at keeping things to ourselves.

  • stellar October 26th, 2011 5:20 PM

    heartfelt post. sometimes i think that the antidote to depression is sharing problems. depression can give a person the illusion that they are the only one suffering. it helps to know that everyone can suffer thru the same things.

  • Roz G. October 26th, 2011 5:58 PM

    this was fantastic Tavi! my best friend killed herself a year and a half ago and most of us didn’t even know she suffered from serious clinical depression until she was lying in a hospital bed… but some times we did wave away her complaints and such and now we can’t regret it more…

  • elies October 26th, 2011 6:01 PM

    I always feel really bad when I whine or ramble about my feelings or stuff that happened, because I think people will indeed think I’m just looking for attention. It’s just that I wish someone would listen. Lately I’ve been having some problems with myself and my life in general. I mostly keep it to myself because I don’t want to bother others, but I wish sometimes people would realized how deeply sad I am most of the time, and not the girl of whom people apparently think she’s that cool, happy, pretty girl. (oh, prettiness is a bit of a curse, people think you have no reason to be sad)

  • Lindsey October 26th, 2011 6:27 PM

    I just recently learned that a family friend may or may not have tried to kill herself, and since then I’ve been really hung up on my own actions. This girl is two years younger than me, a little on the odd side, and very tomboyish, so needless to say we never really saw eye to eye. My friends and I would secretly question her style and her friends. It wasn’t that we were mean to her, we just didn’t understand her. And I’m sure at the same time she wondered why I invested so much in my appearance and skipped around everywhere.

    Regardless of what I felt about her, I had always thought that her family respected her individuality, but apparently that was not the case. She was certainly going through some rough times, I think, finding out who she was, but I brushed it off as being a teenager. Even I have times where I feel really depressed, but I know it’s just part of growing up.

    I don’t know what’s going to happen with her but I sincerely hope she does get better and thank you for shedding some light on the subject.

  • Tessa October 26th, 2011 6:34 PM

    I completely understand suicide. I understand depression, but it’s extremely hard to get people to truly hear you when they haven’t felt those emotions themselves. Or better yet when they don’t know how to deal with it and they pass it off with blatant disregard. It’s just really difficult for both parties. Sometimes the best fix is finding someone that feels exactly the same way you do, or perhaps finding the opposite, someone who can pull you out.

    It’s one of those things where you should be nice to those you encounter because you never know what that person already may be carrying. It’s sad, but the smallest things, especially in this economic state, can really push people to their limits

    I believe people who don’t speak out beforehand really don’t want anyone to stop them. They truly think that things would be better off with them gone.

    Great post.

    http://teafortessa.blogspot.com

  • Katie October 26th, 2011 6:42 PM

    This affected me a lot for two reasons.

    1 – I’ve had bipolar disorder/ depression since I was 12, and people rarely talk about it. There is such a stigma around mental illness that those affected by it are just attention whores and should just get over it. I’m so glad this was addressed here.

    2 – My name is Katie and I’ve felt really low lately, and I don’t know what it is, but it felt like you were talking about me and it scared the shit out of me. I don’t know if that makes sense.

    • Pashupati October 26th, 2011 7:12 PM

      If you ever need to rant to someone or something, I’m pashupatinah on AIM. (it can be creepy to hear, I’m just saying that because when I was low people I knew on the Internet offered me to rant by AIM, don’t feel forced to add and talk to me but feel free if you need to talk to someone somewhere that you don’t know and won’t judge you)
      My mother too do not talk about problems I have, as if these weren’t there. I guess it’s a protection mechanism.

  • Pashupati October 26th, 2011 6:52 PM

    These kinds of articles are the ones you really need to read when you’re in depression, because they remind you you’re not alone.

    What I dislike is when people use “everybody has problems” as the reason for nobody to talk about these problems (and actually tell those who does off!), maybe thinking that if someone speak it invalidate others as not having problems and deny them the right to speak when in fact nobody speak because of that very reason and fear of being judged as dismissing others’ problems. It should only be the reason why people should feel more comfortable and welcome to talk about their problems, especially when it’s indirect like on the Internet, and you don’t really ask a particular person for hir time, but take your own time to push yourself to take the first step of talking about your problems more or less anonymously.
    Really, people: EVERYBODY HAS PROBLEMS, BIG AND SMALL ONES, THAT MEANS YOU’VE GOT THE RIGHT TO TALK ABOUT YOURS!

    Repeat: EVERYBODY HAS PROBLEMS, IT’S ALRIGHT TO TALK ABOUT YOURS!

    I really like that side of the magazine, that it doesn’t “hide” the existence of problems under the “everybody has problems” veil.
    Prince said something about problems, that if you hide these too long they eat you from the inside. (not sure about the correct citation)

  • Ruby B. October 26th, 2011 7:08 PM

    I agree with Pashupati; if each team scores 1 point, it’s the same as each team scoring nothing. The same does NOT work for depression or other problems. Just because everyone has them doesn’t mean nobody does.

    This is a very touching point, and I’m very sorry for your sister’s (and everyone else’s) loss.

    • Ruby B. October 26th, 2011 7:09 PM

      **article. I meant to say post, not point, but now I realize neither work, so this is a very touching ARTICLE.

  • Nomi October 26th, 2011 7:14 PM

    I used to have depression and some days I can feel it sneaking up on me, like in those creepy ads for Abilify where the woman’s depression is right behind some door, ready to jump out at her. This article was very helpful for anyone who knows someone with depression. After I started taking Prozac and I told my friends that I had been depressed the previous year they were SHOCKED. They had no idea because people with depression are not at all like people who are very sad or grieving, because they hide it so well. It’s in their head, although that doesn’t mean it isn’t real. It’s a disorder, same as OCD and anorexia, and I think people need to take all three of those disorders much more seriously.

  • darksideoftherainbow October 26th, 2011 7:26 PM

    this was wonderfully written, tavi. thank you. sometimes it’s even tiny things that get you down but it’s hard to feel better. a lot of times it’s really hard to talk about or explain to someone in person or to someone you know

  • Freja October 26th, 2011 7:31 PM

    I’m so, so glad you wrote this post, Tavi! Thank you.

    I’ve had depression for over two years with it only having been diagnosed as a severe clinical depression in the last four months. As a result I’ve missed a year of school and been essentially bed-ridden and not leaving the house for days on end. It took me so long to get diagnosed and to get help (two years!) not because the depression or its effect on me worsened preceding my diagnosis but because I simply didn’t draw any attention to it. I showed signs, of course, but these were always misinterpreted as ‘hormonal teenager’, ‘rebellious attitude’ (my disengagement with school), ‘laziness’ (tiredness, lack of motivation) or my simply being an introverted and solitary person. In fact, my school psychologist of all people said it was just ‘an attitude problem’. Very thorough, very psychological… I was afraid of being labelled these things, of people thinking I was an attention-seeker, being overly dramatic or didn’t have anything to be depressed about. So I continued skipping school to stay in bed. My mood, my motivation, my interest in things dwindled and it was only until a school attendance counsellor suggested that my truancy might be linked to something bigger than mere ‘rebellion’ that people started helping me.

    Ugh, approaching character limit. I have more to say so I will continue in another comment! Do people even read comments this long? Probably not.

  • Freja October 26th, 2011 7:55 PM

    cont.

    It’s so important we don’t dismiss others who are experiencing problems. Even if their problem seems trivial to us, it may be unbearable for the person going through it. We’ve all seen statuses on Facebook or wherever saying things like, ‘feel so depressed right now, inbox me !! x’, and may have dismissed it ourselves. This links in well with yesterday’s post on bullying, actually. Earlier this year a friend posted a mock status like this and then other people continued posting ‘satirical’ statuses and comments, even naming or directly referencing people who actually said things like that. I felt so angry. I understood their reaction to those kinds of posts. As was said in this article, you can be sceptical of their validity at times. But when it comes down to it, even if someone is ‘seeking attention’ or feeling down ‘without justification’, that just indicates a problem! I mean, healthy, happy people don’t tend do those things. I took it up with my friends the next day. They defended themselves by saying things like, ‘It clogs up my newsfeed’, or, ‘If they really need attention then they should get it somewhere else’. Clogging up their newsfeed? Really? I don’t need to tell anyone reading this how stupid that is. But as for the second objection, sure if people have problems there’s always a better method for addressing it but it’s barely ever obvious. People seek help however they can and sometimes that’s by making a public post online. The fact that it annoys someone should matter at all.

    I could go on but I’ve written a lot… Anyway, thanks for the post!

  • sweeteelou October 26th, 2011 9:08 PM

    I’m in the middle of reading It’s Kind of a Funny Story right now and this post really relates. None of Craig’s (the narrator) friends know he’s depressed because he hides it so well. His problems don’t SEEM significant compared to all the one’s we hear about on 20/20 or Dateline (which he says so himself that he thinks he is self-centered because his problems aren’t so big), but they are, and this post and this book have helped me realize that depression isn’t just something you can wish away.

    • saranev November 1st, 2011 6:32 PM

      I’ve been wanting to read that! How is it?

  • Lilly October 26th, 2011 9:16 PM

    Thank you Tavi for creating this post, you are so understanding. It’s amazing (yet utterly horrid) how many people suffer from depression. What’s more astounding though is the number of those who call people out for attention-seeking and being over-dramatic.
    As for the perception that suicide is selfish, it depends on who is committing the act and who is witnessing it. To the witness it is the most selfish thing in the world, but the committer finds that it’s the most selfless thing they can do, for theirself.
    Once again, thank you Tavi. Despite my being one year older than you, you are one of the best role models ever.

  • Petra October 26th, 2011 10:00 PM

    Tavi this article is so beautiful. I’m glad you addressed this.

  • Ellie October 26th, 2011 10:52 PM

    I think this is wonderful and I appreciate the sincere attempt to understand other people’s depression, but it still lacks something. As someone who has experienced depression at different points in my life I would really like to see a post written by someone who has gone through it. I love to see awareness being spread about mental illness, but it is not quite the same as reading someone’s first hand experience. I think that’s what is often missing in the dialogue on depression and the stigma will stay if more people don’t share their stories.

    • Tavi October 26th, 2011 11:04 PM

      Hey Ellie, Pixie wrote something earlier this month that might be what you’re looking for. http://rookiemag.com/2011/10/ghost-rider/

      • Tavi October 26th, 2011 11:17 PM

        (Fwiw, this article was coming from someone who deals with depression, though it’s not about my personal experience exactly.)

  • Madeleine October 27th, 2011 12:44 AM

    My first depression occurred the summer between 5th and 6th grade. I think no one noticed because I spent all of my time in my room reading and no one saw that as a problem. My second started in 8th grade and lasted well into 9th. I stopped hanging out with my BFF and spent all my time alone. My grades also dropped. Again, no one really noticed. I think it is very easy to overlook depression if the person, like me, withdraws from life but maintains an outward appearance of normalcy. I still went to school, did my homework, practiced my flute–in other words, I didn’t become completely incapacitated and stay in bed all of the time–but I was seriously depressed. I just didn’t know who to tell or what to say–I think I hoped someone would eventually just figure it out. This was my situation: I was being psychologically/emotionally and, early on, physically abused by my father, and I had been as far back as I could remember. Nothing I did was right–and the wrong thing one time might be the right thing the next time, so I could never learn the rules, I could never avoid being punished. Later, in a psychology class, I learned that random punishment–the kind I endured–results in a condition called learned helplessness, where all action is feared. This is why I could not ask for help directly–in my universe that was too risky. In other words, I hoped someone ‘noticed.’ The only time I ever said anything was towards the end of 12th grade, when I was sure that my father was going to kill me. That is exactly what I told a friend–not a close one (contd)

  • Madeleine October 27th, 2011 1:24 AM

    –I moved in 10th grade and wasn’t allowed to go out except for school–so I had no close friends. I’m not sure what I expected her to do, I just had to tell someone. I don’t think she did anything, and telling her was the only thing I could bring myself to do. Anyways, I graduated and started what I thought of as my new life when I started college. The problem was that no matter how hard I tried to ignore it my past haunted me. I was incapable of attending class on a regular basis. I was afraid of everything, all of the time. I couldn’t seak in class. In other words, I was sliding in and out of depression all of the time. By the time I got treatment I was completely unable to leave my apartment and I was sleeping all of the time. I think it is difficult to explain depression to someone who has not experienced it. It is not like feeling really, really sad. It’s more like being dropped into a dark hole where it seems like there will never be any light or way to escape. It felt like living was completely unbearable; I was constantly suicidal and at one time asked my boyfriend (loyal and loving beyond belief) to please remove all of the knives and scissors from the apartment. I stopped eating and lost 25 pounds (ironically, although I was dangerously underweight & very sick, I was constantly being told how great I looked.) But eventually I got better, I found an anti-depressant that worked for me, and now I am gradually putting my life back (?) together. Thank you, Tavi, for this article–depression is a serious illness, and those affected may not be able to ask for help. (ctd

  • Madeleine October 27th, 2011 1:33 AM

    They may be hoping that someone will figure it out before it is too late. I’m lucky–I’m still here. But I could easily have been one of those girls who was suddenly, unexpectedly, gone. I worked very hard at seeming OK, and I was very convincing. And it almost killed me.

  • October 27th, 2011 1:36 AM

    I think it’s great that you’ve written about this, Tavi. I absolutely do not want to sound like I know too much about this, or would have too much of an idea about how to help people, but I can speak a bit for myself…

    “…forget whether a poem qualifies as Good Art and understand its importance to the person who really needs it to exist.”

    I think this goes for everyone that’s making art and everyone that’s viewing art. Sometimes people try (and have tried) to make me understand the difference between good art and bad art, but I’ve never worked it out (perhaps deliberately!). I’ve always just taken from whatever I see, wherever I see it. I mean sure, there are some Picasso’s that are really great, and then there are some that (in my opinion) are really awful. And then there are other times when I’ve looked at some kid’s paintings/drawings, and have just been blown away! And the creativity and imagination on display has kept me inspired for months :-))

    But then this ‘inspiration’ isn’t just because I might happen to do a bit of work in it myself, it can also just be some inspiration for my life, or my state of mind at the time. It’s the same for music and movies and stuff. Sometimes I like what might be considered a bit ‘high-brow’ (?) and then other times I might just need to rock out to something that’s considered a bit less la-di-da and a bit more mainstream popular culture, or even reach out to the lowest forms of kitsch!

    So my advice whether you’re making it or experiencing it, just get right in there and love it! :-))

    P.S That photo of Sylvia Plath! <3

  • mirandab17 October 27th, 2011 2:36 AM

    It’s true. The perfect anecdote (i think) for a problem that’s going on in your life is to simply reach out and talk to someone. to take that (most likely the most difficult) step and let the anxiety that was bottled up inside of you seep into the world one word at a time. it’s not enough to stay quiet, thinking that no one will want to heear and no one cares, because there is always someone who cares. even if it’s just the kid next to you on the bus, or a teacher you’ve always got along with, just making it so that the problem isnt only alive inside of you is crucial.

    i really cant believe i’m sharing this, because i havent with anyone really other than my family obviously, but my older sister can be severely depressed sometimes. she used to have an eating disorder but now has recovered and, as corny as this sounds, each day i see her i am still struck by her beauty. but it is exactly this beauty that led her into believing that the friends she has (who she made when she began to “come into her own” as they say) are only there superficially, not for who she REALLY IS on the inside. it can tear her apart sometimes. feeling like she doesn’t connect with other girls especially is brutal. but every time she comes to either me or my mum or perhaps her psychologist (i dont really talk about that actually) she leaves feeling better, a little more in control of what life is throwing at her.

  • mirandab17 October 27th, 2011 2:37 AM

    SLASH

    it’s so strange how a simple screen can act as the strongest line of defense against vulnerability. sometimes i wish there were little groups like this in real life. just a collection of strangers sharing their deepest and darkest problems in the hopes of overcoming even one and feeling completely exposed, in a good way, if only for a few hours.

  • Ellie October 27th, 2011 4:06 AM

    I don’t know how to reply. Was I supposed to get an email? Anyway.

    Tavi, I am really sorry. I shouldn’t have assumed that about you. And thanks for showing me that article. I must have missed it. This website is the greatest thing I’ve come across in years and you are a true inspiration.

    • Tavi October 27th, 2011 5:26 AM

      No need to apologize! Just a misunderstanding. Thank you, I’m glad you like the site, and we’re trying to figure out the comment reply thing right now :)

  • Motherfunker October 27th, 2011 9:24 AM

    this almost made me cry. it’s so true. thankyou for putting this out there.

  • Amber Dawn October 27th, 2011 12:37 PM

    Thanks for sharing this. I think people often don’t realize that people who are depressed, maybe they seem like they don’t have anything to be depressed about, but that’s not the point. People aren’t clinically depressed because their life is terrible necessarily, but because there is something medical going on that makes them feel that way.

  • Madeleine October 27th, 2011 2:22 PM

    @Katie. I so agree that there is a stigma attached to depression and that a common misperception is that you are ‘lazy’ or ‘not trying hard enough.’ It’s seen as a failure of will rather than the illness it actually is. No one is shocked when a diabetic takes insulin, and in the same way someone who is depressed and takes medication to control it should be seen as treating a medical condition, one that may relapse at any time without the medication. Psychiatric medications are not ‘feel-good’ drugs; they address an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.

    Re: suicidal depression

    Suicidal depression is a state of incredibly overwhelming, unrelenting psychological and emotional pain, escapable only by some form of unconsciousness. It feels neverending. I was lucky; I had a therapist I trusted who I could call day or night (and I did) and remind me that it would end.

    I’m not claiming that any of my experiences are representative of depression or suicides as a whole–but this is what it felt like to me. I understand what it is like to be in so much pain that death seems like the only solution. I also know what it is like to suffer in silence–for no one to be aware of what is going on beneath the surface. I’m not sure why I chose this dichotomy, but it seems not uncommon.

    What I can say is that if this is how you feel, you need to talk to someone you trust right away, and you need to be treated immediately for severe depression.

  • warreno October 27th, 2011 3:08 PM

    I think it’s important to draw a distinction here. Clinical depression – a psychiatric condition that’s defined, in part, by low feelings, low functioning, and suicidal ideation that goes on for two weeks or longer – is a serious disorder that can and must be treated.

    Clinical depression is not something you ‘snap out of’ or can talk your way out of. It’s a result of chemical imbalance in the brain, and there are very effective medicines that can be used to treat it.

    I know a bit about this, being dysthymic (low-grade bipolar) and doing fairly well with medical management. Certainly the worst of the bad days are behind me, as are the binge drinking and chain smoking.

    Just adding my voice to the chorus of calls here. You don’t have to suffer alone, you can get treatment, and you almost certainly will not find it by posting a Tumblr blog.

    If you are in trouble, do whatever you have to in order to get help, professional help, from a psychiatrist.

    Please.

  • Alma October 28th, 2011 2:15 PM

    I think depression, as well as the amount of people that are suffering from it, is underestimated, especially in the case of teenagers, like me and Katie. People think it’s just a teenager being grumpy, pubescent, they’ll grow out of it, or whatever excuse people can find for it. I mean, we’re all relatively wealthy, we go to school, how dare we be so dramatic to claim we are depressed!

    The problem is that despite the positive things in our lives (friends, school, etc.), depression still can walk in. Depression is not a rational thing, something one can decide on. I contemplated suicide while I was on a class trip in sunny Paris, it’s not like I was looking for attention. I just was/am depressed.

    Thanks for discussing this subject seriously, I feel like that doesn’t happen enough.

  • mcap October 29th, 2011 12:08 AM

    This article really struck me and brought light to an issue often misunderstood and pushed to the sidelines. At school today, my friends and I discovered that a girl at another school nearby who has many friends in my community committed suicide last night.
    I looked at her facebook page today and was struck by her beauty and what appeared to be ease-of-mind and sheer happiness. I couldn’t possibly imagine why someone like her could he been depressed. It’s funny how I quickly connected beauty with happiness, or popularity with satisfaction. When it comes to these issues, it is always wise to avoid assumptions and try to understand others’ problems without belittling them.
    I myself am depressed and I hope that I am never in a similar situation. It’s hard to express what it feels like, and I myself barely understand what this girl went through. I just do not understand and it hurts me to think of another human being, beautiful, popular, happy, or not, suffering so much and being willing to end their own life. This NEEDS to be talked about more so that people know there are options and that suicide is not the only solution to the understandably overwhelming and horrifying experience of depression.

  • koolkat October 29th, 2011 4:32 PM

    My great aunt has suffered from depression for most of her life, and she did take anti-depressants in her early 20s but her husband got her off them because everyone in my family thinks they’re unnecessary. I think this is so stupid because she’s had a horrible life, and other members of my family have also suffered from depression and been so stubborn about getting help. Medication doesn’t make you weak, although saying this I still have this notion drilled into my head. People need to change their views so that people can be happy and not feel like a serious medical condition is just them being pathetic.

  • Stephanie October 30th, 2011 1:22 PM

    Tavi, this is one of the most important pieces I’ve read. It brought tears to my eyes. I felt like I understood Katie all too well as someone who struggled with depression for all of my teen years and into my twenties. My only outlet was my art, my zines which I guess were kinda like my tumblr. We have to look at each other closely and be as supportive as possible. Depression lurks in dark corners under seemingly sunny exteriors. My freshman year of high school, two very popular senior girls committed suicide. No one understood because they seemed to have everything. They would get into good colleges, they came from good families, they had loads of friends. I didn’t know them so I don’t know what was going on. All I can say is all kinds of people struggle with depression and I hope we can find more and more ways to reach out to them.

  • Gwendevine October 31st, 2011 5:21 PM

    Tavi, your article could not have come at a better time for me. Reading it and the comments have truly opened my eyes to the fact that I myself am probably suffering from depression. I’ve denied it for many, many years and hid it very well, once again for risk of sounding selfish and not wanting to burden my husband with my trivialities. I never believed in depression and thought it was something I could fight off on my own with will power. It’s been a long road to realization that it’s just not the case, this is not something I’m capable of battling on my own. Your article has helped me better understand that it’s ok to admit to myself (and others) that depression is not something to be ashamed of. I am actually currently in the process of finding a psychologist I can connect with. Thank you and wish me luck!

  • cancercowboy November 1st, 2011 1:48 PM

    what warreno wrote.
    you can’t help someone with serious issues by liking his/her stuff on facebook. that person has to admit (first to her/hisself, then to people he/she trusts) that she/he needs help. thats damn hard. many people are ashamed of the fact that they can’t cope and function “like they’re supposed to”. admitting that you ain’t have complete control over yourself and thus your own friggin life isn’t something our society rewards. plus, many depressed people build facades to hide their pain and anxiety from those dear to them cause they fear being perceived as a failure and a wuss. they don’t want to let them down or are afraid they won’t understand.
    those masks can easily become cages. depression creates a gap between you and the others and its fucking difficult to gather the strength and say “i need help”.
    and not everyone who writes a morbid poem has a clinical disorder.

  • saranev November 1st, 2011 6:31 PM

    People so often view suicide letters and/or attempts as attention-seeking, because they are. But why is it a bad thing? Why is it “bad” that a young girl who seems to be fine and has everything going for her has no other way to communicate how much trouble she’s in, internally? Why is she scorned and ridiculed and judged when all she needed was someone to talk to, someone to understand her and care for her?

    I think the stigma around depression (who it affects, what it actually is, etc.) is really unfortunate, and it’s thanks to the honesty of articles like this and Ghost Rider, that we can break down the barriers that block people from understanding.

  • mytornpages November 4th, 2011 12:27 AM

    Thank you so much for posting this article. As someone who has suffered from depression for the last two years, it’s nice to have an article that explains how confusing this time is. During the worst stages of my own depression I felt like it was a negative thing that should be hidden, and now I have learned to accept that it is all part of the “growing up” part of teenage years. Again, thanks for writing this article, it was extremely touching, and Tavi, you are a reminder to everyone that being yourself and choosing not to hide your past is what is most important.

  • ghettogypsy November 5th, 2011 9:08 PM

    tavi, this is so true. on thursday my little cousin started posting all these facebook statuses about how much he hated life, wanting to slit his wrists and talking about being mentally unstable. at one point he posted that he was drunk, going to take a load of pills and slit his wrists. it would have been so easy for his friends to assume that he was just seeking attention and leave him be, but one of them called him and when he didn’t get through, called an ambulance to go to his house. he’d done it and was nearly dead. they took him to hospital, stuck him in intensive care overnight and now he’s ok.

    me and the rest of the family were just so grateful that he had a good enough friend to take what he was saying on board and act on it. guys, never ignore someone who’s feeling low. you never know when they might really need you.

  • Sister November 6th, 2011 3:55 PM

    Thanks for writing this. I’ve been on this downward slope for a while. It’s really nice to hear someone on the other side of it, it’s nice to be reminded that you would be missed and mourned and loved.
    I’ve been anonymously blogging about my experiences here, if anyone is interested:
    http://anxiousanonymous.blogspot.com/

  • alesssurprise June 11th, 2013 12:47 AM

    thank you for this, Tavi