The Doctor, Vincent and Myself

Depression is a sticky situation. People often assume that it affects women. That it involves a lot of sleeping and apathetic behaviors. Or suicidal thoughts. The public is allowed to eat up whatever the media feeds them, but the reality is that depression is far more than just over-sleeping and threats to kill yourself.

I remember back in high school, the earlier years and possibly even starting in Junior High, having many terrible, suicidal thoughts. This wasn’t just the run-of-the-mill a-boy-doesn’t-like-me type of upset. I was saddened by who I was and the idea that I would never be better than I was at that moment. I had few friends and even fewer with whom I held close enough to know any different. My mother spent many years telling me that I was fat and made ugly devil faces when I was angry, high school only compounded on this horrible self-image that she helped create.

I had a best friend whom I spent most of my time with. I had people I was close-ish too. I had others I hung out with. I was social. But I always felt as though no one really understood me. No one “got me” in the way my best friend did. So when we’d fight, I’d hide. I didn’t want to answer the questions about why we, normally inseparable, weren’t eating lunch together. Why we weren’t running around spouting off lines from Shakespeare at each other as though we were somehow transported in time. Coupled with the lack of boy attentions, the fact that I didn’t like my boobs and a discomfort in my body, and the voice of my mother telling me how fat I was all the time, depression quickly set in.

I spent some time self-mutilating. I wrote initials on my ankles and wrists. I used needles and razor blades. I covered it up. I hid the scars. Today, almost all of it is gone and insignificant. I’m definitely grateful for small favors, including the one where I had no idea how far down I needed to go to make things permanent. I also had thoughts of suicide. Many of them. That I was tired of the laughing and the pointing, and the snickering behind my back. The way people talked about me, or the way I perceived them talking about me. The rumors that were spread. The general cattiness amongst the girls. The genuine need to destroy any and all things good in each other’s lives. It was far too much for this girl to handle most days.

I wrote letters. I hid them in the wall. I doubt my dad ever knew that I made that little hole in the closet to hide those things. I wrote many letters explaining why I was willing to do what I thought I wanted to do. I thought about it all the time. Planned different ways. There was even this particularly bad curve off of one of the major highways, and along the curve was this huge billboard in the middle of lots of underbrush. I often considered how fast I would have to crash into that billboard in order to make sure that it “worked.” No sticking around for the hurt and pain and endless sympathy and stares later. I knew that if I was going to do it, it was going to be for real.

I obviously didn’t do it. I’m here today writing this. The thoughts are there super rarely and often following something catastrophic like people at work treating me shittily and me being threatened to kiss some ass or I’ll be fired. But y’know, no job is worth that much stress. Pretty much ever. And if I were let go, it might be better for everyone at that point. I digress.

Last week’s Doctor Who, er, actually, two Saturday’s ago, was Vincent and the Doctor (this is the British airing date, as I’m fairly certain the U.S. is about 2 weeks behind, though I don’t know because I see them as they come out and am thus on U.K. airing time with the Doctor Who episodes). The episode itself is about Vincent van Gogh and the imaginary things he sees, but the deeper bit of the episode was the personal demons that Vincent was struggling with.

I’ll spare the details, for those in the U.S. who have yet to see the episode, but I cried. A lot. I watched the episode again last night, and again, I cried. There is something so touching and real about the end of the episode. The fact that depression often takes hold and doesn’t let go. That Vincent suffered deeply and still gave to the world so much beauty and art that there are few words to express this. Even as the authors of the episode try, the truth is, he can’t have known. Vincent that is. I can’t imagine what his life was like. I can’t imagine the pain, or the torment… or the suffering. But I can empathize. And wish for a Doctor like my Doctor to go and show him.

If there is ever a moment in your life when you’re faced with someone who suffers from depression, watch this episode. On it’s own compared to the rest of the season (or past seasons) it wasn’t the best. But stand-alone, it was touching and real. There are many of us who can related to any of the three of them (Vincent, the Doctor or Amy).

Now let’s move forward a little bit more. Sunday’s Postsecret was a particularly good one. I’ve reached the point where I don’t often read Postsecret anymore. It’s blown up and it’s no longer about secrets, at least not in the same way it used to be. But there was a Golden Gate Bridge secret. Then photos of people asking the poster not to jump. Then an email about someone who, upon taking their first walk across the bridge, saw “ribbons and messages along the way”. It was touching and to someone the person who sat on the bridge, it was very real. All of it was. It happens all the time. Someone, somewhere, has taken their own life, and it’s devastating and sad.

I could have been one of them.

For those in the U.K. needing help, not just for people who have depression but for family members and friends, check out BBC’s Headroom to learn more about depression and resources available to you.

For those in the U.S. check out Hopeline or  Call 1(800)SUICIDE [1-800-784-2433] for help, day or night.

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