An Open Letter To Depression
Where do I begin? With the awkwardness of being another person writing another one of those "open letters"?
Or should I begin with the tears I shed last week for a man I never met but who I journeyed the world with via his irreverent yet honest food shows?
Or should I being with a confession?
Let's start with the awkward. I heard recently that in order to get to the meaningful we often have to travel through the awkward first. That rings true for me, so that is where we will begin.
This last week has left me wrestling with a whole spectrum of emotions and as I've processed them, I feel like I can't NOT write the words you are about to read.
So yes, this is another one of those open letters. Because (I think) open letters are about addressing an injustice within earshot of others.
And I want you to hear this:
The spiraling mental implosion that afflicts hundreds of millions of innocent victims world - it's terrible.
It attacks indiscriminately and robs the world of beautiful people.
Last week we were reminded of this with too many high profile suicides.
And yes, I shed tears for Anthony Bourdain.
My wife and I have traveled the world and the culinary globe with Anthony on his shows. While I didn't always agree with him, his love for others and his passion for straightforward honesty was refreshing and entertaining.
And so when I was shopping for milk at the store and my phone lit up with the news of his death, I cried.
I cried for the loss of Anthony. And Kate.
And for the loss of my friend Kyle. And for Lyndon. And for the father of one of my former students.
Because suicide and depression have selfishly stolen from each of us.
Because sometimes life sucks. Period.
A high school teacher of mine used to tell our class that life is a daily bite out of a "crap sandwich".
Can I get an amen?
I told you there would be awkward, tears, and confession in this post. So let me get to that last part. The deeper reason for why I am writing through tears and feel awkward as I wrestle with the next few sentences...
Up until I press publish on this post, I could count on two hands the number of people who knew this.
I have depression.
And I hate it.
I hate how it has altered my life throughout my 20's.
I hate the fact that it took me 3 minutes to write that 3 word sentence and quit deleting it.
I hate that I've feared saying anything about it for several years.
I hate fearing that you'll think less of me as a pastor for it. Because pastors are supposed to have things figured out right? (Here's looking at you sanctification.)
But I'm done with not saying anything about it.
Because I know what it feels like to want to end my own life. To feel like I'm dangling off a cliff and that gravity is stronger than my will or my hand strength. To feel like my head has a tornado flying around inside of it and that one misstep will leave me being sucked away.
But, most of all, I'm sick and tired of reading news articles about depression taking lives. And I'm sick and tired of losing loved ones to it's lies.
I have one more confession to make.
This isn't an open letter to depression.
This is an open letter to YOU.
Because I'm done with losing people to depression. And if you don't struggle with it then chances are the person reading this after you will struggle with it.
And I don't want to lose you.
I've been encouraged by those sharing the Suicide Prevention Hotline Number (1-800-273-8255). That hotline is helping save countless people's lives.
But I don't know if I could have built up the courage to call that number when I was at my lowest.
I needed people who knew me and that I knew. That's who saved me from ending my life, got me to a doctor, and onto medication to bring my life into a better balance.
So, if you are struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide, talk to someone. A family member. A friend. A neighbor. A coworker. A religious leader.
And if you aren't struggling with depression at this point in your life, reach out to those in your lives who might be facing this evil. KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN.
The phrase that 2018 has taught me so far is: "We are together."
Our lives are wrapped up in the lives of others, whether we like it our not. And the only way we can reverse the tide of suicide and attack depression head-on is: together.
I'm writing this note because maybe me working up the courage to name my depression will give you the courage to talk with someone about depression too.
But it doesn't have to win.
We can fight it together.
No one is immune to it. And everyone is impacted by it.
Let's start talking more about depression.
Jeremy Sullivan Height