Checking On Your Depressed Friends Won't Save Them


I started this when Kate Spade died but stopped because I couldn't figure out why I was so upset. I didn't know anything about her personally, I just appreciated her work. So why did it feel, personal? After it weighing on me all day I decided I couldn't afford to be so affected by the death of someone so distant from me. I told myself people die all the time. I moved on.

Today I found out Anthony Bourdain committed suicide as well.

What. The. Fuck.

Two respected, wealthy and white people deciding to take their lives in the same week felt like morbid deja vu.

And it hit me. These deaths don't hurt just because I'm sad. They hurt because I'm afraid.

Historically, white people, are allowed to have mental illnesses. They are permitted to admit they are depressed. They are forgiven for their inability to deal. So many people of color are just not afforded that same luxury. Our cultural expectations have left us screaming into the wind only when no one can hear. Afraid that we will disappoint our ancestors by showing a weakness that they couldn't. Our indoctrination to give it to God has left us silently suffering. Afraid to displease the Lord with our pain.

Will the same guilt that keeps us from pulling the trigger on scheduling that appointment to get the proper diagnosis also keep us from pulling the trigger on ourselves? Will the same attempt to hang on one more day prevent us from hanging ourselves?

Even with the long overdue push to encourage us to seek the help we need, there are more hurdles to clear before we get to the place beyond our own darkness. If we are lucky enough to have medical insurance, lucky enough to have therapy covered, lucky enough to find a therapist understanding of the unique problems we may face, are we also lucky enough to be able to afford to do so?

Therapy isn't cheap and it requires time. Who is going to watch the kids while you pour your soul out on your psychologist’s couch? Who will clock in for you? Who will take that test so you can rest as recommended? Who will be you while you find out who you are?

Money is never the solution to mental illness. Depression doesn't care about the dollars in your bank account.

But it helps.

It helps fill those gaps in self-care and responsibilities. It helps stabilize your existence while you figure out your purpose. You can't climb the ladder and hold it up at the same time. Money helps ensure extra hands are available to balance you.

So if they were allowed to admit they needed help. If they could afford the help. If they had the time to get the help and it still wasn't enough to save them… What chance is there for us?!

We tell ourselves if we only had the resources they had we'd be okay. We say once we get the access or the ability we will dig ourselves out of the hole. But Kate. But Anthony. But these holes. They may very well sink us before, during or after we get the tools to climb out.

That's where shit gets real. That's what scares me. Finally having everything and still feeling nothing. Nothing to ground me. Nothing to keep me. Nothing to rescue me if I go too far.

I don't know why they decided to take their lives. Even if we know everything leading up to that moment there is nothing that ever really explains it. But after years in remission. After feeling so safe from ever getting to that point. After declaring that I will die with depression but I won't die from it, their deaths reminded me people die everyday. People like me. People like you. People like them. And there may be nothing that can save us.