Blog

Mar13
2018

Finding Common Ground

By Joshua Weiss

This piece contains detailed accounts of suicide ideation. Please use your discretion.

Depression and suicidal thoughts. Two things that not a lot of people like to talk about. Can you blame them though? I mean seriously, who really wants to talk about those things? I know I never did. That is, until this past year when those two things surfaced in my own life.

Before I continue, know this: I am not a psychologist. I am not a psychiatrist. I haven’t even been clinically diagnosed with depression by either of those.

Does that minimize my perspective to you? Maybe it does, but that’s okay.  Because what I intend to do is bring light to the stigma surrounding depression and suicidal thoughts. Not just bring light to it though, I want to help dissolve stigma.

On February 21, 2017, I started to see a therapist. I was nervous, I felt extremely weak for even admitting I was experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts. But when I did, when I spoke the words out loud to another human, I found relief. It felt like I could breathe again, like I wasn’t hiding anymore.

During that first session, the therapist reassured me that coming to him and seeking help was a sign of strength, not weakness.

What an interesting concept, I thought.

In a culture where you have to:

Be the smartest.

Be the best looking.

Be the richest.

Be the strongest.

Be the most confident.

Be the happiest.

Be the most successful.

Essentially—be the best at everything—it was okay to appear weak? To need help? And more so, it was actually a sign of strength?

Having that conversation made me want to engage in more conversations, to create dialogues with people that allowed them to not feel isolated in their struggles.

For me, being isolated was the scariest thing. The days I felt most depressed and suicidal were only enhanced when I isolated myself; when I decided that no one wanted to hang out with me or loved me. Those days were the worst. Those are the days it was hard to go on. But I promise you, those thoughts of people not loving you or wanting to be with you are a lie.

And no, this isn’t my quick fix. I’m not saying you can eliminate depression and suicide ideation just by avoiding isolation. It won’t. And I know how hard it is to be with people when you are feeling no emotion at all, faking smiles and conversation is exhausting. But I also know how hard it is to be alone when you’re feeling those things.

I was recently having a conversation with a buddy who deals with depression too. We started sharing our own experiences and quickly found that we both shared common ground when it came to what helped us the most: talking to others who are struggling.  People who we thought would never struggle, people who helped us to not feel alone.

It was September 29, 2017. I had made a playlist to listen to that had songs talking about suicide and depression—morbid, I know—but it helped me feel understood. One of the songs on the playlist is Logics’s “1-800-273-8255”, the title of which is the number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. That song has gotten me through a lot of rough days, September 29 being one of the worst. Regardless, that day started off okay, nothing too overwhelming—it was Friday after all. Still, I felt off, empty and apathetic. Being someone who projects the idea that I’m “always doing good” and strive to make others laugh, I didn’t want to tell anyone. Not even my girlfriend Allie, who I had been texting the entire day, telling her how excited I was to hang with her and some friends after work at Whole Foods for a wine night—something I love to do. Fast forward to those plans, and instead of feeling joyous and vibrant, I was feeling anything but.

One thing I’ve learned about depression is that it comes out of nowhere. It’ll just hit you when you’re least expecting it. At times, it’s mentally paralyzing. Most days I can hit back, but on this day, I couldn’t. So that night I told my friends that I wanted to go home and take a nap because I was tired. That was a lie though, I just wanted to be alone. So I left. As I drove home, I battled thoughts of driving the car off the road, convincing myself I had no use to the world or the people in it. When I got home, I felt helpless, but I couldn’t tell anyone for free that I would burden them. Distraught, I found myself searching through my roommate’s belongings, looking for pills to take. Unsuccessful in finding any, I just laid on the ground and wept.

As I lay there, I started thinking about my friends, my family, and my girlfriend. Was it true I was no use to them? Was it true that this world would be better off without me? These questions caused more tears to surface, which eventually led me to reach for the phone. I sent a text to a friend that I knew was familiar with depression. After I told him what was going on, he urged me to go back to my friends. He reassured me that my friends loved me, that he loved me, and that I needed to be with them in that moment. I didn’t want to. But I went back.

And honestly, I think it saved my life that night.

To those who struggle, I urge you to reach out. If no one knows what you’re going through, please tell someone. Your life is worth it.

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Comments (21)

  1. Laura McCammon

    Incredibly revealing and well written. Thank you for sharing your story, it is inspiring and easy to relate to on so many levels. You did a great job at explaining what isolation feels like and how it truly comes from nowhere. I especially related to the part where you described how easy it is to want to be alone, and especially once alone how the isolation begins to tell and whisper lies. Overall a great piece and very well written, please keep on writing and especially living, the world needs your voice

    Reply  |  
  2. Marie

    Thank you for sharing your story! Your words really touched me and empowered me. I try hard to be available for my friends when they go through difficult times. Your words makes alit of sense

    Reply  |  
  3. Jen

    I love this so much. I am starting over for the 3rd time, with a new counselor for my 12 year old daughter. It’s been hell. I feel like somehow I’ve contaminated her with my mental health issues even though I fight like hell to hide them from my kids. Very few people know what’s going on with her. But recently she started self harming and I felt like if I didn’t say it out loud to somebody then I would never accept it. So the few I chose to tell, that I thought I was already too much of a burden on, that I thought would reaffirm my thoughts I was failing as a parent, actually said “I understand”. It made breathing a little easier. Which makes makes my fight for my daughter’s life even stronger. It’s very, very hard to accept people can love you when you don’t love yourself. I have to save her from that.

    Reply  |  
    1. KAT

      Jen, you are blessed to have such a solid & compassionate support system. Many people don’t have that — esp. if they engage in self-harming/self-sabotaging behaviors. I hope God will lead your daughter to the right individuals who will love her, accept her and stand by her the way her mom does.

      Reply  |  
  4. Rachel

    Honestly I wish it was that easy. But after about 15yrs give or take of reaching out to people or trying to reach out to people…I’ve had very negative experiences with people and “friends” about opening up about my depression since it’s so on going/constant. So I’ve just kinda stopped…

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hi Rachel,

      We’re sorry that you’ve had negative experiences with sharing your story, we would encourage you to continue looking for people who feel like safe places to open up to. You deserve to have people in your life who you can count on as a community of support.

      You are so valuable, so loved, and so worthy of good friends. We are honored to know you in part. If you are interested, you can reach out to our team at info@twloha.com. We would love to hear your story and send you some encouragement.

      We’re rooting for you!

      Reply  |  
  5. KAT

    Thank you for helping to dissolve stigma & for encouraging conversation on this topic. I don’t isolate as much these days, but I find that I am still numb emotionally around others & I’ve definitely mastered “the fake smile” . . . but yesterday I engaged in a rather lengthy (unplanned) chat. I was pleasantly surprised to find common ground. True, I was exhausted by the end of it, but I was also so relieved that we each were willing to invest the time. It was so nice to see and be seen; to hear and be heard; to know and be known. I am grateful — both for that time and for your courage and strength to share your story with all of us.

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  6. Nicole

    This has to be one of the most inspiring blogs I’ve read. Depression really does come out of nowhere paralyzing you. I’m glad you are alive, this is something I definitely needed to read today.

    Reply  |  
  7. Carrie

    I am in the same place right now. Thank you for sharing!

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  8. Dave

    I completely understand what you are saying as I have struggled with depression and suicide attempts for years. I am also very proud of you for doing what you are doing and please believe me when I say I love you, even when I don’t know you but I know your heart. On April 4th of this year my sister in law took her own life and this has been an absolute devastation to my wife, my self, family and countless friends. The affect of this is like a ripple on a pond as it goes on until it cannot go anymore. Except, this is not a peaceful ripple it will devastate you to your very core. I apologize for carrying on but I would like to thank you for this forum and If you help even one person you are my hero. Thanx

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  9. Adina

    Thank you for sharing your deeply personal story. It is a powerful, yet simple, reminder that people don’t want to live without us.

    Reply  |  
  10. Autumn

    I dont know why I came to this blog today, but I needed it. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  11. Lilli Evans

    This story is so close to my heart. I too deal with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. I am 15 years old and I have reached out for help twice over the past year and have had no real help from them, my school nurse applied me to go to a place called CAMS and they turned me down. I have a past of self injury which was the main topic of why I needed help and still need it, I never got to tell the nurses about my thoughts of suicide, I never truly trusted them and then when I was gaining trust the one nurse left me for a different job and I haven’t seen anybody since. This was around may time this year. Last summer a lot was going on in my life and it all got too much so I took mys of aside and was ready to end my life and that day still haunts me. I’ve recently wasted the ‘To write love on her arms’ film and it really hit my heart, I could relate to many parts of that film and has made me think about getting a better source of help. If you could reply with any places to talk to somebody in The UK midlands it would help me massively. Thankyou.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hi Lilli,

      We are so glad you are here. We are glad that you are still seeking out help that works best for you. Your life is important and worth fighting for. If you would, email us at info@twloha.com and we can try to help you find some resources in your area.

      With Hope,
      TWLOHA

      Reply  |  
  12. Lee

    I have had anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts for over 30 years. There is no end, no light in the tunnel, no amount of loving hugs, medication or therapy sessions that will quiet the voices in my head. There is just the end that i look forward to, to piece.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Lee,

      We know how hopeless this life can sometimes feel. We understand how you are feeling right here, right now. But our hope would be that you, as you have for many years, continue to fight for yourself and the hope you deserve to believe in. Doing that is easier said than done, but know that there is an entire team of people who believe that it can happen for you.

      Would you email us at info@twloha.com so we can learn more about your story and offer you some support and encouragement? It would be our honor. Please reach out.

      With Hope,
      TWLOHA

      Reply  |  
  13. Carrie

    This is how I feel right now and honestly it sucks. I am alone pretty much 24/7 and even when I have opened up to “friends” in the past I have been told get over it, stop talking about it etc. Even when I ended up on a 72hr hold a few years back I was bitched at 😔 I am seriously very tired of even continuing to try….my hope is diminishing fast and it sucks to be alone in it all 😔

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hello Carrie,

      We are heartbroken to hear about how you are feeling and what you have been through. We know that sometimes when you open up to people, you do not get the response that you are hoping for. We do not want this to discourage you. Even though there will sometimes be negative reactions, there is always the possibility that a person’s reactions will be positive and supportive towards you. Whenever you feel ready to reach out again, we encourage you to reach out to someone you trust – a friend, a teacher, a family member, a counselor, someone who you believe will be supportive of you. If you would like, you are welcome to email us at info@twloha.com. We do not want you to feel alone. We are here for you.

      With Hope,
      TWLOHA

      Reply  |  
  14. Darla Booth

    I came to the Twloha website after just watching the film about Renee Yohe’s story. I’m 59 years old & have struggled with depression, isolation for as long as I can remember. Part of me wants to be the strong person who asks for help & draws inspiration from others. The person who can stay happy & be inspirational to others. The other part of me just gets so freakin tired. I’m the person who wants held & reassured I’m enough. I’m ok. Somone loves me. I’m necessary.
    Your story Finding Common Ground helped me today.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hello Darla,

      We are so glad that this post was able to help you. We know how difficult and tiring it can be to continue to be strong. Please remember there is nothing wrong with taking time for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with needing reassurance. There is nothing wrong with needing other people. We all need other people. Please know that you are important, and you are enough. You are always welcome to reach out to us at info@twloha.com. You are important, and we are here for you.

      With Hope,
      TWLOHA

      Reply  |  
  15. Diane Nelson

    One more thought, Joshua … the world is living in the lies started by a dark, greedy mind … and henceforth, all of its striving is in darkness, too. Your blog is a Godsend to so many … thank you for allowing us in and opening the door to a healthier state of being.

    Reply  |  
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