Depression, Part Two

A few hours ago, I called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It was a number I had seen before — on TV, during commercials. On posters wallpapered to the guardrails of bridges. I'd even seen the logo — that green phone masquerading as the letter "C" — on the Red Line, just across the tracks.

I'd seen the number for years.

I didn't know it was one I would eventually end up dialing.

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Five weeks ago, I started a new job. Unfortunately, the only thing I've felt in regards to my new position is an overwhelming paralysis. I've yet to go to bed at night and wake up refreshed, ready to the conquer the day's challenges. Instead, I hit my snooze button again and again and again. I wait until the absolute last minute to emerge; all I want to do is lie, and bury, and nest. Quiet the world.

Today, I rode my bike home, wheeled it into the garage, unlocked my car, and climbed in.

And then I screamed.

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Before calling the national lifeline, I tired to talk to two different crisis centers here in Indianapolis.

My calls went unanswered.

When I dialed the lifeline, I was connected to a counselor, a woman named Angie. We talked for awhile; she listened. It became apparent, however, that she was actually four hundred miles away. I assume this occurred because the lifeline uses phone numbers to automatically route calls. Since I still carry a southwest Iowa phone number, I was routed to Cedar Rapids.

Regardless, I talked to Angie about what was going on, and she asked if I were suicidal.

"No," I said, truthfully. "See, it's not so much that I want to die. I'm terrified of that, and terrified of hurting myself and having to go through the effort. It's more or less that I ... just ... don't want to exist. That I don't want to hurt anymore, I guess. Does that make any sense?"

"Yeah," she said, "It does." And in those few words, I heard a genuinely soothing voice. In the months I had been talking to friends, family, therapists, and doctors, I found in Angie the understanding I needed to hear.

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As Allie Brosh depicted in her post "Depression Part Two", talking to others about mental illness — and especially about suicide — is wrought with emotion. "I was ... extremely ill-prepared for the position of comforting people," she says. "The things that seemed reassuring at the time weren't necessarily comforting for others."

I couldn't agree more. When describing my current state to others, I sometimes end up being the comforter, instead of the comforted. I've also had to answer questions like "Why would you even consider that?" "Don't you think drugs will fix everything?" and "Have you tried being not sad?"

One of the biggest "insults" I ever received, however, was from a dental assistant. Back in May, I went in for a cleaning. They asked the usual questions — "Had any surgeries since we last saw you?" "Any issues with your gums or teeth?" "Any new medications?"

"Yes," I said. I told them about the Zoloft. And the Wellbutrin. And the Klonopin.

"Are you ... depressed?"

"I'm, uh, actually not working right now. I'm on mental health leave."

"Oh. Well, you don't look depressed."

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At this point, I wish I had an eloquent conclusion to this post. The truth? I don't. Not at all. Mental illness isn't easy, and neither was writing this blog post. But at least you know I'm still here. That I'm still breathing. And that I'm still fighting, damn it.


  1. I'm glad you are still fighting.

    I am fighting too at the moment and it sucks. But it will be worth it in the end

  2. Please keep looking for something to look forward to. Hang will get better eventually.

  3. Just a great and informative post. I really liked it. Thanks for posting here with us. Keep updating more.

    1. Thank you so much for taking time to comment. I really appreciate it. And thank you for your encouragement to post more; I really should. I would like to become more of an advocate for mental health. Again, thank you. Very much.

  4. Wow, this is powerful, Dawn. I've never heard depression explained this way. I don't know what to say except that you are strong for fighting this. You are awesome. And there are so many people supporting you - I can just tell. And I'm so glad to have "met" you through social media.

    1. Thank you so much for reading. Trying to keep up with my blog this past year was pretty much impossible. It was very hard, but I still wanted to try and find words to describe what I was going through (and still struggle with). Again, thank you so much for reading, and for your kind words. I'm glad to have "met" you as well!

  5. Dawn,

    I don't know a thing about you--expect that you've got moxie. It takes so much courage to share what's in your heart and head. Even more so when it's something that carries so much weight.

    I started 2015 with a two-page list of goals. The sheer hubris of that makes me cringe now. When the cancer came (yet again) last May, I winnowed that list to a single item: Don't get dead.

    Managed it. Wasn't sure I would. It took help.

    I hope to achieve the same goal this year. So. How about you work on the same? And when we're sucked down into that pit and it feels like all is lost, let's do our best to remember that it isn't. Because there's people like you out there. And people like me. And sometimes we bump into each other, and help one another make it through the day.

    And we never, ever know who will come our way, or when, or how much of a gift they'll be to us, or how what we can mean to them.

    But as long as we're here, we can do our best to find out.

    I don't know a thing about out you. But I know this: You've got moxie. The world needs courage. So. The world is better for you being in it.


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