An Open Letter to the Generally Sad and Disconsolate

You're not happy. You're still all-you.

Dear You,

vast eternity by e. HowardHey.

Are you feeling a little “over-seen” in these past few weeks? Yeah, I know how you feel. When “public” suicide happens, it’s so substantially private — so completely hidden inside the person who has departed — that it’s hard not to feel an equal sense of horror and marvel.

Horror at pondering the final moment when a person can and does turn off their own a light forever. Marvel in knowing that the light can actually go out.

There is this uncomfortable feeling: millions of us staring at the abyss of loss, wrapped in our tributes, watching #mentalillness crawl like CNN afterthoughts across our social media feeds and feeling our our own personal fragilities questioned and exposed.

So this is my quick note to you — the person who is often sad, disconsolate or plain-old depressed to tell you this: you are ok.

And by “you are ok,” I am not petting you or jiving with you.

I mean that when you feel yourself trying to climb out of a pile of brokenness, and when you can’t imagine that anyone “out there” (outside your mind) would be able to comprehend, much less help, I want you to hear this:

You are ok. You feel broken or busted up or completely lost. That is ok.

No, you are not “fine.” That’s a load of crap on a windy day. When we get all messy and confused by the twisting lanes of sadness, we are not fine. You and me? We should probably ask for help.

But, (and this is a big but) you know, sometimes we DO ask for help (really loudly!) and, you know, it’s really hard. Because the hearing people are not able to help.

They don’t know what to do. They are afraid. They have no “solutions.”

Right?

Or, (I know this so true), maybe they DO help, and we just can’t take it. It bounces off us like a superball.

It’s ok.

I know that today you might feel GREAT and all the ducks are in their row and not only in their row, but they are singing “Kumbaya” in 4-part harmony. Yeah baby!

But that’s temporary. I know that maybe at the end of today you will think: why can’t I always feel this way? Why can’t this goodness be good enough? When will the rug be pulled out again?

The Rug

I know that when you are NOT “D” (depressed, BIG D), life feels really good. Like how you feel the day you are recovered from a nasty cold. Finally, you can inhale without any blockages or wracking coughs.

You take those inhales seriously, I know. You pay attention and give thanks.

Except that with depression, life is inhaling and also waiting. Waiting for the rug to move again.

I know you worry. You worry what others think and how your “not happiness” impacts them.

Everyone worries, but when you aren’t by nature a “happy” person, then you are something else, right? Like: Mopey, Angry, Moody, Bitchy, Gloomy, Sulky, and Sullen. The Seven Dwarves of Depression.

You don’t see yourself that way. You hate feeling like others to see you that way.

I know you think your depression makes you “bad.” That you try to hide your “bad” moods.

And I know that the hiding makes you, well, half-you.

I know that your worrying has changed you. I know that you “try hard” to render up that happy person you remember being once, the one you think people want to see, and I know that, in the trying, you feel an odd separation from that person you know you are.

And I know you’ve sat at table with a well-meaning yet baffled friend who rambles through the parade of “advice” like “just don’t try so hard,” and “don’t be so hard on yourself” and “stop beating yourself up” and “look at all the good things you have going for you.”

And I know you look at those friends and realize they won’t be around for long. They probably left already. They loved you when you were “fun” and “confident”. They don’t need this “drama.”

And I know you maybe you are not be ready to love and accept them for where they are. But you will.

And I know that seeing a friend disappear because they wanted only “half-you” or “old-you” hurts like crazy.

Also, I know that there are other friends who don’t disappear. They might live 1,000 miles away, but they love you, all of you. They write you letters. They tell you they love you at random moments on Facebook. Some of them answer the phone at 1 a.m.

And they are probably available to Skype or FaceTime right now.

So I guess it’s just my way of saying: this IS you.

Right?

Maybe you can imagine yourself as person who walks at sunset. You know how that goes: you are the one with the big long shadow walking in the most beautiful time of the day.

The clouds may obscure that shadow temporarily. Sleep may hold it at bay. But this is who you are.

It’s ok.

Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She teaches and speaks about the rhetorical impact of beautiful writing. A recent transplant to Connecticut, she calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home.

 

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