For those who have never grappled with serious depression, it’s a condition that’s extraordinarily difficult to understand. After the recent high-profile suicides, many who have dealt with depression shared their thoughts online. We were particularly taken by one anonymous poster who compared it to snow. A condensed version of that message follows.
Some days it’s only a couple of inches. You make it to work. Maybe you skip the gym because who knows how bad it might get tonight. Probably better to head home. Some days it snows a foot. You spend an hour shoveling and are late to work. Your back and hands hurt. You leave early because it’s really coming down out there. Your boss notices.
Some days it snows four feet. You shovel all morning but your street never gets plowed. You are so sore and tired you just get back in the bed. People wonder where you are, but you don’t feel like calling them back, too tired from all the shoveling. Plus, they don’t get this much snow, so they don’t understand why you’re stuck at home. They just think you’re lazy or weak.
Some weeks it’s a full-blown blizzard. When you open your door, it’s to a wall of snow. It’s too cold to sit in the living room anymore, so you get back into bed with all your clothes on. You haven’t taken a shower in three days, but how could you at this point? You’re too cold to do anything except sleep.
When it snows all the time, you get worn down. You get tired of being cold. You get tired of hurting all the time from shoveling, but if you don’t shovel on the light days, it builds up to something unmanageable on the heavy days. The snow carries on regardless, unconcerned and unaware if it buries you or the whole world.
The snow builds up in other areas, places you can’t shovel, sometimes places you can’t even see. Maybe it’s on the roof. Sometimes, there’s an avalanche that blows the house right off its foundation and takes you with it. The neighbors say it’s a shame and they can’t understand it; he was doing so well with his shoveling.
I don’t have a message for people with depression like “keep shoveling.” Of course you’re going to keep shoveling the best you can, because who wants to freeze to death inside their own house? My message is to everyone else. Grab a shovel and help your neighbor. Slap a plow on the front of your truck and plow your neighborhood. Petition the city council to buy more salt trucks.
Depression is chemistry and physics, like snow. And like the weather, it is a mindless process, powerful and unpredictable with great potential for harm. But that doesn’t mean we are helpless. If we want to stop losing so many people to this disease, it will require action at every level.
How can you help? Learn more about depression and suicide, so you better understand those around you and what you can do to help. If someone you know is thinking about ending their life, help them get help. A good start is to text 741741 to make an immediate connection for people who are thinking about suicide and for the people who care about them.
Are you finding your own snowstorm of depression too exhausting and overwhelming? Please contact us. No, it isn’t easy to ask for help, but we understand how you’re feeling. We know you’re sad and scared, and we want to help you find your way out of the snow and back to better weather.
Join us for our discussion about suicide and the church. Register here.
Join us for our community workshop on suicide and depression. Register here.