Sounds of Silence: The Reality of Depression

To quote my very Irish father, “For a communication major, you’re a really shitty communicator.”

He’s absolutely correct. For the past four years, I’ve hidden my problems from my family, my friends, from everyone. I’m sure if you’ve read this far into this post, you’re probably judging me. “What could possibly be wrong? You got through grad school! You spent a few months in Ireland! Things should be grand!”

Perspective is key when you talk about depression. When I think about my life objectively, there is no reason I should be depressed. I grew up in a privileged household with two parents who loved me. I was close with my family, and despite minor dust ups, we were consistently on the same page. So what went wrong?

I work for an amazing company where everyone is incredibly supportive of me and my long term goals. I live with my best friend from college who picks me up while I hit the lowest of lows, even though I’m a terrible support system for him, admittedly. I’m also fortunate enough to have met enough friends along the way in New York these past few months who will mean a great deal to me forever.

So why do I feel the way I do? I know why and I don’t know why.

I’ll be honest, I’ve had my struggles. I’ve had a couple of attempts at my own life these last few years, and I’m okay with admitting it. I have hit rock bottom. More than once. If I’m able to help anyone else who has felt the way I have, I’m doing my job.

I’ve never liked myself very much. I was always the skinny Irish kid with the big nose who was too short and lacked the self-esteem to ever really make anything of himself. When I moved to New York, I tried to shed that image, but a lot of it remained in my mind.

Sure, I had my heart broken here in New York (twice) and that was completely my fault. I made a bunch of poor decisions out of a combination of love and jealously and I regret that deeply. I’ll be honest, a lot of times I feel like a burden to the people I’m around. What do I bring to the table? I’m lucky to hang around with and work with such smart, attractive, amazing, people, and I just don’t see myself in that same league a lot of the time. I don’t want your sympathy; trust me. I’m just calling it as I see it.

When I look at my life objectively, things should be fine. I live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I live with a great friend of mine who cares about me more than I care about myself. I’ve met some people here who I feel truly love me.

Yet things aren’t fine. And much of that is my own doing.

As I said before, the last thing I want is your sympathy. The pity party does nothing to change the problem. That’s the last reason I’m writing this. I’m writing this so you understand why I’m probably not so chipper this week or month. I’m still the same me; just now you know a bit more about me and how I work.

Depression is a disease just like diabetes or cancer. Nobody gets judged for being diagnosed with either of those afflictions; it’s time the stigma ends with depression.

If and when the world allows me to wake up tomorrow (because nothing is promised beyond today), I hope that my friends, colleagues and family have more of an understanding of how depression works. I love you guys, and despite the fact that I might not always show it, I truly do.

-Seán

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