“I wanted to make sure you weren’t crying alone,” the body copy of an email read that I received one recent afternoon. The subject line read, “Are you ok?” I wasn’t.
I’m humiliated while crying in public. Crying makes me terribly uncomfortable when other people do it. Worse when it’s me. Yet here I was, crying in public. Loudly.
This email was a gesture too big for words. It meant that someone was worried about me. It meant someone was concerned and didn’t interpret my tears as uncomfortable. It meant that someone really wanted to know if I was okay. It meant someone cared.
It’s been a long time since I felt like someone cared enough to extend a hand. And yesterday I received it—twice.
During my weeping (when I received that email), I was also caught red-handed, crying. I came face-to-face with someone who saw me ugly crying. Snot and all, folks, snot and all. This person put her hand on my shoulder and calmed me down with reassurance. She didn’t walk away until I was calm.
How many times have I told myself not to talk to someone about the way I’m feeling because I will cry? Crying is one of my biggest humiliations. I cannot put into words how much I hate crying. If I don’t talk, I remain calm and no one will see me at my weakest. Silly, huh? I’m reasonably rational, yet I somehow always let my mind convince me of irrational thoughts like this one.
It’s been about eight weeks of constant sorrow and hopelessness. Eight weeks of crippling depression. Eight weeks of drowning sadness and eight weeks of eating healthy during the week and binging on the weekends. My life has been turned upside down, once again, by mental illness.
I had a pretty good run, you know? Last year I had a little seasonal depression, but as soon as the sun came out in the spring, I was feeling better again. The past couple of years I’ve been pretty good at keeping it at bay. Getting healthy and gaining self-confidence helped with that, but it seems now it was just a Band-Aid for a bullet wound.
Real depression never really goes away. It may sleep for a little bit. It might hibernate, even—but the relentless bastard seems to ALWAYS come back.
The insecurities have returned. The constant sobbing has returned. The loneliness has returned. The self-loathing has returned. The anxiety has returned. The nail-biting and lip/mouth chewing has returned. Searching for reasons to justify why someone might not like me has also returned.
So friends, I’m still navigating my way through it. I don’t have the answers, but I’m not quitting. If you’re also suffering, talk to someone, go to therapy, talk to your doctor, take your medications when you’re supposed to, and if they aren’t working, discuss that with your doctor, too. Let’s not suffer quietly and alone anymore. I promise to practice what I preach.
And if you feel as hopeless as I have these past eight weeks, send me an email, because I want to make sure you aren’t crying alone.