A woman in a neighboring suburb to mine recently drove her car off the highway. She was twenty-eight-years old. She was a special needs teacher. She had a one-year-old daughter. She was found dead in a lake. This act was considered intentional, her death her choosing.
Or was it?
Libby Davis’ husband released a statement saying his wife suffered from severe depression and anxiety.
Let’s talk about this. Because no one else seems to be.
Mental illness is not a mild disease. It kills people. It killed Libby. If I severed my arm and an artery was bursting out with blood, I’m sure someone would bring me to the hospital. A stranger even. But there’s no visible wound to be had here, only an internal one. So no one helps. No one comes to the rescue when your rational mind has been gutted. When your thoughts aren’t your own. When all you can hear is what you aren’t, and weren’t, and never will be. When you’re so numb you can’t finish a meal, or wash your hair, or care for your kids. When the only possible solution to your pain is to take your car and crash it. And no one comes to stop you because no one sees it coming.
So here’s what we can do, fellow depression folks. Here’s what we HAVE to do. We have to speak out loud, boldly and without hesitation, every thought that comes into our heads. I know, I know, your mind says no one cares. Your mind says that’s crazy. You’re crazy. But I’m telling you, better out then in. I don’t see another way to escape this rabbit hole. Our wounds aren’t visible, so we have to speak them into existence. We have to be able to share our not-so-sparkly truth and we have to say it over and over and over again to anyone willing to listen (and those unwilling to listen as well). Doctors, therapists, spouses, best friends, acquaintances, cashiers, I don’t care, just share. And I’m not talking about explaining ourselves, that’s way too damn hard. I’m suggesting we say the actual words our warped minds hear. Speak them as they come and as they are. And if it scares someone? Good. Let them feel the shock we’ve become so numb to.
We also need to stop giving the canned answer of “I’m fine” and start spilling our guts, demons, and mind devils out into the world. Because, you guys, they will kill you if kept in. They’ve already cut our minds, don’t let them stab our souls.
And you non-depression folk? You listen up too. Literally. Listen for us to speak and don’t take what we say lightly. And remember, we’re new to this whole sharing thing, so no shaming, okay?
Also, don’t offer to help. Just do it. Do something. Pick up on our context clues when the fridge isn’t stocked or we can’t return our baby’s smile. Friends, don’t say, “If you need anything let me know.” We won’t. We won’t tell you. We never want to be a burden, so we’ll just bear those burdens on our own backs until we break. Just lighten the load, look us in the eye, love. And don’t pretend to have all the answers, or be scared that you don’t, because someone will. Just share a bit of the pain and then pass it on. Our mind’s tell us we’re alone, so please prove us wrong.
Everyone’s saying they are shocked by Libby’s death but I’m not. Because mental illness doesn’t discriminate. Beauty can’t buy you out of it, or the most selfless profession, or sadly even love. Sometimes the only thing that’ll save you from the muck of your mind isn’t yourself—but it starts with you.
Speak, share, be scared, but be heard. The right person will listen. You can start with me.
Life’s too short to drive anywhere alone.
Let’s do this for Libby.