Facing The Truth About Depression
By Michael John Sullivan
I want to be completely honest with you. I’ve failed. I’ve failed often.
I’ve been miserable, more than you would ever believe.
I’ve had frequent bouts of depression. Sometimes they are severe.
After the first week my first novel Necessary Heartbreak was published, an executive at Simon & Schuster told me it was dead. I stayed in my bedroom all week trying to recover, hiding from the world.
After the first few negative reviews came out, I cried and grieved as if someone close to me had died. Yes, a grown man cried over a few lousy reviews. I felt ashamed for a while after feeling this way.
There are times I look in the mirror and think why am I so awful to have the feelings I do?
There are many solitary moments when I think of the mistakes I’ve made in life, whether they were trivial or not, and say out loud, “I hate me.”
There are many mornings I don’t want to get out of bed for fear if I take another chance it will end up in another failure. I keep the blinds closed and covers over my head. Only the hum of the fan comforts me.
I’ve stumbled often over the past few years in some of my relationships. I wonder if I’m really a good friend or a good man or even a decent human being.
I worry about not giving my writing friends enough support. I try to cheer on their victories. I feel sad when I see them struggle. When I feel I don’t help them enough, guilt overwhelms me. I know I haven’t done enough.
I fear Facebook. I fear the sadness and anger I see often on it. People who I once respected make me feel now like hiding in a corner, putting my hands over my ears and closing my eyes.
I don’t sleep well. I’m up three or four times a night, thinking and worrying about what is ahead.
I’m happier when I’m alone.
I find comfort sitting in a movie theater by myself. No one can hurt me. I can’t see or read about some stranger making fun of a writing friend’s work.
I feel terrible about asking friends to buy my books.
I feel awful if I have to badger them to do it.
I’m easily let down by the simplest things people say they will do for me and don’t.
I wonder if this depression will ever go away. I try to deny I have it. I know I do. But strong people don’t admit it.
Hemingway killed himself. Why should I admire him? Why do I admire him? We do bleed though. Every one of us, whether we are writers or not. Depression touches every part of life.
Robin Williams killed himself. He seemed so happy to be doing the work he did. He was so successful! Maybe work isn’t what keeps us happy? I thought it did.
Whether we are writers or not, successful in work or not, rich or poor, black or white, lover of God or not, depression is a serious issue. It’s something we should be discussing more often. I’ve been told it takes a lot of courage to present it in a public forum. So here is my little bit of courage.
Those who are depressed are not looking for pity. They’re looking for hope and support.
I am certainly not looking for pity. I’m here to help.
I look around and know I am blessed. I have a loving family, a roof over my head, a chance to write during the day, moments to make with people close to me, and I have the gift of today.
I have that gift right now and it’s good.
Some people will tell me I have it all.
I know I have it all.
But I do suffer from depression. We’re not weak to admit or acknowledge it.
If you do suffer from depression, here are some places to seek help. Remember, you’re not alone: