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Thread: Letter to a Depressed Friend

  1. #1
    Starrunner

    Default Letter to a Depressed Friend

    Note: This letter is a composite of several posts I submitted to some recent Adisc threads and blogs. I wanted to encapsulate them into a cohesive response.


    Dear Friend:
    First of all, thank you for taking the time to read this. I know you're not feeling well, so I'll try to keep this clear and concise while I have your attention.

    I have often been where you are right now, or at least I've had my own version of it. I attempted suicide at a young age, I lost my partner to suicide in later years, and a good friend took her own life while she was four months pregnant. I'm not trying to compare my experience to yours or claim it was any worse, it's just to say that my perspective also comes from experience.

    Depression is different for each of us, but what we share is the sheer painfulness of the experience: The exhaustion, the lack of sleep, the feelings of hopelessness, and how pointless everything seem; How everything that made you happy seems trivial and not worth the effort; And how loathsome you feel and how undeserving you feel about yourself. I understand that because I've been there. I don't think I can say anything that will talk you out of how you feel right now. So rather than try, I will simply let you know I care. We've been down this path so often throughout the years, you and I. We've covered all the possibilities in that time to get help and you know I'm in your corner. I support you in whatever goals you choose, it's just that right now, the depression has overtaken your thoughts, and it may not be the best time to just say the same things over again, so I won't. Not right now.

    So let me just say this for tonight, without the usual pressure to call a helpline or see your doctor or give you a pep talk that you probably don't want to hear: You are an incredible person with many amazing talents, insights and interesting things that make you unique. It's just that you've lost sight of this for awhile. From my experience, the things that make you special will come back to you. It's just that the strength, patience and hope you need to wait for them is exactly what depression takes away. So everything seems impossible. I know the feeling all to well. After years of living with depression, I can tell you this. There are going to be good days and bad ones. But with the right support, whether it is family, professionals or friends, you will gradually notice that there are more good ones than bad ones. You can learn to be happy again and take up those things that give you a sense of accomplishment. As we talked about in the past, it is a matter of taking on small goals that are achievable, and then celebrating what you have done. Learning to be kind to yourself and not beating yourself up can be a lifelong process. But if you can't be kind to yourself, it can be hard to share yourself with other people. And that would be such a loss, because I see the potential of a person who has so much to share.

    Depression is an illness, but unfortunately we don't always treat it that way. Sometimes it may get better on its own, depending on the severity,but it can take ages, and there's always the likelihood that it will return and be worse than the previous episode. I know it's hard to consider getting help when you can barely find the energy to get out of bed in the morning, but if you don't do it, it will just get worse. And there is help available. Your doctor is your best first contact. You can talk over the symptoms and decide together what you need, whether it is medication, therapy or a specialized service. You may decide you need medication like antidepressants to help your body heal. Medication may or may not have some side effects, but so do antibiotics and you would likely take those if you had a serious infection. The fact is that depression can be clinical and caused by physiological reasons that will not get better without treatment. Trying to 'tough it out' on your own without any help will just wear you down and throw you further into the abyss.

    And so here we are again, facing another day where things feel pointless. All I can say is that I'll be here for you again. Because I know your inner self, your energy, creativity, humour,, hopes and dreams. And I care for you precisely because of who you are,, who you can be, and who you are going to be. We've been down this road many times, you and I, and we'll likely go down it some more. And if we do, I'll remind you of how great you really are when you feel down and defeated, and how you have made a difference in my life. Thank you.

    Sincerely yours,

    Starrunner
    Last edited by Starrunner; 11-Feb-2017 at 01:50.

  2. #2

    Default

    I've suffered some rather deep depression myself. I was never QUITE suicidal, but I took lots of unnecessary risks and kind-of had a death wish. Things like... riding metal swingsets during severe cloud-to-ground lightning storms. >.>;;;

    I felt like life was pointless for well over a decade. I tried antidepressants and they'd work for a little while and then stop working for me. But curiously enough, it lifted not too long ago, maybe a month back now, and very suddenly, like someone just threw a switch. The way I described it to my therapist was that I can actually "feel" the stars at night again, for the first time in so many years, the magic of it is just there. But of course there's much more to it than just that. My therapist warned me that I might oscillate a little on this -- have good days and bad days, as you said -- but so far, it's been consistent.

    There were a lot of things that lead up to breaking this problem for me, but the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak, came from a very unexpected direction. I was having a rather mysterious problem with my calf muscles (I couldn't figure out what it was and, big surprise, my doctor couldn't either... I usually self-diagnose everything), where they would tense up rather severely if I rested them for too long. Once I got them "warmed up" I could just run around like I usually do. But a mere 10 minutes of sitting or etc, and they'd get very tight. So one day, I underestimated the severity of the issue, and went to get up out of my computer chair on one foot like I usually do... and the pain was so intense I reflexively pulled my foot up, leaving me tumbling in mid-air. I struck a nearby table face-first, luckily not breaking my nose or losing any teeth, but I got a nasty case of "black eye." And so many random people like clerks at grocery stores, reached out to make sure it wasn't a domestic violence situation. There is a cool tattooed girl who works at the liquor store I frequent for beer and she was the most direct about it: "What happened? I'll kill him!" Keep in mind, I'm still un-transitioned, and look like a guy. It was just so very touching that people would reach out like that and *snap* that finally did it.

    I don't know if I've explained this adequately or not, but parts of my personality I long-since thought were dead started to switch back on in rapid-fire fashion. I can feel so much more again. It's a bit amazing to me.

    So the point of the story is... for anyone reading... never give up. The light at the end of the tunnel can come before you even see it coming.

  3. #3

    Default

    Both post above are so very true.

    I /we offer the advice we do because we have been there and persevered enough to do the hard step of finding/getting the help to come up from the bottom. I was there 3 times to be exact and I NEVER want to go back. It hurts me to hear of people in the same situation and I want to help in the worst way.

    I know it is hard to thing about getting better when you have been down so long, but it is possible.

    I want to help in the worst way, but I may have to stop to take care of me, so I do not back slide.

    This is not being selfish, but it is one of the steps you learn on the road to recovery.

    More times then not it is because you are not selfish that you get into the situation in the first place. One becomes so involved in being what everyone else wants that you end up hurting yourself. Again this is not selfish to say "NO". I also think that it is a safe bet that the people that are pushing you (or you feel that they are pushing you) are not helping but hurting you because the can "dump there negative trash" on you to make them feel better. This is why they ask the "STUPID QUESTION" "What is wrong with you!" "Just pull yourself up by your boot straps!"

    So know we do care and we are here when you are ready to say "ENOUGH, I AM GETTING HELP!"

  4. #4

    Default

    I think we live in toxic times, a toxicity caused by our dysfunctional political leaders. They have encouraged a culture of hate, greed and self-centered behavior. They have created a nation of negativity and it has poisoned not just the U. S., but everything and everyone we touch. It's pervasive and distorts how we once saw the world. For the first time in modern history, the life expectancy for middle class white people has dropped. There is a large segment of the population whose lifestyle has dramatically diminished. Jobs that support a standard of living that I had when I was younger, have greatly declined. Many people find themselves moving backward instead of forward, caught stagnating in poverty.

    Depression is the horrible result of a dysfunctional world. We must not give into it because when we do, we let those who pull the strings, win. I don't have a lot of answers to make us great again, but I know we help ourselves when we help others. I find I have to keep myself busy almost all the time or I succumb to depression. I get nervous if I'm doing nothing. When I was younger, I worked one full time job and at least one part time job. At the same time, I helped build Habitat for Humanity houses, and I split wood for the needy who had wood stoves. When you get yourself out there, you make contact with other people. Some of those people are in positions to offer work and jobs.

    I also think it's important to have goals for one's self. Many communities have two year junior colleges and they have career services. I used their service when I lost my full time job in the year 2000. I had a goal and a plan. As it turned out, the goal changed and I got a different job, one that I still work at the age of 69.

    We can't control the outside forces that will disrupt our lives. I couldn't and at first when I lost my job, I had a suicide plan, associated with a date. But I also had a plan and I was able to get two jobs to replace the one I had. I also had a support group, which was my wife. It's important to have friends and contacts, and that happens by being social and getting yourself out into the world. When we feel better about ourselves, depression becomes lessened.

    I know depression gets in the way of everything, like having a mountain suddenly appear in one's path. You can either just sit there unable to move, or you can walk around the mountain, even though that may take a year or two. For me, it was better than sitting.

  5. #5

    Default

    It took me years to understand what was happening to me, and when I finally did, it was at the suggestion of my family doctor to begin seeing a psychiatrist. I had been unhappy for years, never quite suicidal although I thought about it sometimes, and finally I just got sick with an illness that kept me housebound and weak but couldn't be diagnosed. Over the next few years with counseling I became more able to look outside myself and to see opportunities for fulfillment and happiness that had been invisible to me before. It's been almost fifty years since I took that first step toward healing, and my life is so much better I can't say how grateful I am. I'm on antidepressant medication, permanently I think, and if it keeps working for me I don't regret it for a minute. My best wishes to all those who are still suffering, and especially to those road is more rocky than mine has been.

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