So where do you go when you feel like you’ve gotten to a dead end? Where do you find the answers when the questions you hear yourself asking are falling on deaf ears? Your mind tells you “No one cares and no one ever really did”, and who are you to argue with your mind? “You’re just some loser who can’t get your shit together. No one cares about you, no one loves you, no one even knows you exist at this point.” I don’t have an answer. I’ve never been at that place in my head. Sure, I deal with self doubt at times and I feel like I should lose 20 lbs and I should pick up a hobby like painting. Or maybe I should learn how to fix things around the house. But these are normal things everyone goes through. All in all I have a pretty good overall opinion of myself(not horn-tooting here.) I do the best I can. I feel like I’m a pretty giving and open person to those around me. I don’t wallow in self-pity or self-doubt for more than 10 minutes a time. My family loves me, and have told me on many occasions that they don’t know what they’d do without me(my wife can’t even pick something to watch on Netflix. The struggle is real.) And I feel like the luckiest mug in the world having my high school sweetheart at my side, along with three kids that are equally sweet, polite, and looking at the world with eyes wide open.

My point is, I can’t step into the head of someone so lost and in the dark that suicide seems to be the only answer. You can’t empathize with that sort of deep, dark, sadness unless you’ve been in the thick of it. It’s not that I don’t want to help. I want to reach in and pull that sludge out of that person and shine as much light in as I can, but it doesn’t work that way. Depression isn’t coaxed out with some supplements and a handful of “Hey, keep your chin up!” You can’t will someone to be happy by praying for them or dropping by occasionally and leaving them with a “We should get coffee sometime, or something.” Being there for someone you know is going through it is a start. Opening your head and heart to what they’re going through is a good place to begin. You can offer your services as a coffee pal or a fellow bookstore rummager. You can ask how they’re doing and offer some honest advice. You can’t make someone take it, though. You can only hope it’s a lifeline enough to keep that person interested. Enough to keep the conversation going.

I’ve dealt with this darkness more times than I’d like to count in my life. Friends, family, acquaintances that gave into the black hole of regrets, guilt, despair, and whatever else you can find on any early Cure albums, regardless of how much they loved others or were loved by others. It’s a sickness, plain and simple. It’s not a bad mood you’ll eventually get out of. There’s no bucking up and getting over it. There are chemicals imbalanced, wires crossed, and emotional scars a mile long wrapped around ones heart like a python squeezing.

Like I’ve said, I don’t have any answers. I just want to stay engaged with the world around me. I want to stay plugged in and available to those who need me to be. I may not have any answers, but I can maybe help with figuring out the questions that need to be asked. We’re all in this together, for better or worse. Let’s make it more better than worse. We start doing that by not averting our gaze off to the side, but by laser-pointing it directly ahead. No matter how uncomfortable or awkward it may be. Let those around you having a rough go of it know that you’re there and that you’re buying a cup of coffee and have a spot to sit and talk. That’s how we make it better. Sometimes a friend is all we need to get to the next day.

That’s all we can ask for, isn’t it?

13 thoughts on ““a cup of coffee and a slice of time…”

  1. “Sometimes a friend is all we need to get to the next day.”. Pretty much sums it up. Unfortunately, a lot of people tend to freak out when someone starts talking about depression ( i know from experience- lifelong bipolar person here). They either invalidate the experience ( purely on the basis that they don’t personally understand it) or they panic- assuming that we’re looking to them to solve our problems for us; to “fix” us. This is so frustrating. All we need is basic human empathy. That’s it. A shoulder to cry on. A sympathetic ear. An acknowledgement of the fact that we’re experiencing a tangible pain. This simple acknowledgement can save lives.

    Of course, you can’t always know. People aren’t mind readers, and if a person doesn’t talk about what they’re experiencing, we’ve no way of knowing what they’re dealing with behind closed doors. But the fact is that people DON’T talk about it because we’re not encouraged to. Generally, we’re encouraged to shut the fuck up and deal with it. But NOBODY can deal with that shit alone. Nobody! People try, but it never ends well. My own experience is that most people just want me to be their Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and if i dare show the flipside of the coin, i can go fuck myself. It makes me so mad, and it makes me hate people! And i don’t want hate. I’m not a hater. I’m just a person who happens to get very low sometimes, and it be bloody nice to not be demonised and punished for it. Especially as i never asked for this shit. Nobody would.

    Anyway, please forgive my rant. I don’t know you, and vice versa, so i don’t expect a reply. But i feel it’s important to talk about this stuff. The more we do, the easier it gets, and it really could mean the difference between life and death for somebody out there. No lie. Thanks for talking about it in this post, anyway. It’s necessary, and it’s appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For someone who doesn’t suffer from clinical depression it’s taken me a long time to be able to see it. I’d seen it for years with friends but wrote it off as indifference to the world around them. They isolated and retreated and back then I wasn’t willing to go into the woods and look for them. I am now. I am trying, anyways.

      I’m sorry you’ve had that experience. The shrug when you show the hurt and pain. The ambivalence to the darkness. I don’t see the public opinion changing anytime soon, at least here. But maybe we can make a change, one or two people at a time.

      Thank you for ranting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No worries; i’m quite good at it, it seems ;). But seriously, thank YOU so much for being aware enough to engage in that type of introspection. I understand that it’d be pretty difficult- if not downright impossible – to understand this sort of thing if it’s something you’ve never exprienced firsthand. But the fact that you- and anyone else out there- are at least trying to employ some compassion and empathy is something that gives me hope. We could all use a little of that at this point in time, i think.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t tell you how much this resonated with me, JH. It’s so easy to use that holding line of “let’s try catch up soon” and I know I’ve been guilty of that. Best intentions, etc. This, though – “Sometimes a friend is all we need to get to the next day”.

    Thanks for this, man.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “You can offer your services as a coffee pal or a fellow bookstore rummager. You can ask how they’re doing and offer some honest advice. You can’t make someone take it, though.”

    That’s it in a nutshell. Be there. Consistent. Be a friend.

    There’s an article in the most recent Scientific American Mind about this very subject, if you can find it on the newsstand (I couldn’t find it online for free yet). Lydia Denworth: With A Little Help From Our Friends. And, of course, SA followed it all the way back to human evolutionary history.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. the timing of this post, so shortly before Cornell, is amazing. as a person with mild depression, bordering on darkness in the winter, you nailed some very key issues, such as there’s no just “being happy”, that’s called acting and misses the point of highlighting, not hiding sadness. thanks for posting.

    Like

    1. I’m glad you could connect with this. It started as me trying to deal or understand wit losing a friend to suicide. The questions “What if I’d been there for him more?” or “What if I’d gotten that cup of coffee with him?” kept coming into my head. It seems to be something everyone can relate to. We’ve all been in the position being the friend that could reach out and the friend that needs that connection. I want to change and be more open for that connection for anyone that needs it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We also have to embrace that sadness is universal and it’s okay to be sad. There’s such a social stigma with admitting you’re in a bad place, I can only be hopeful that this movement towards empathy not only continues but also blossoms further. It takes a village….

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