Friday, April 1, 2016

Depression Is More Than A KeyWord -- Fat Chance

If you know me at all, even if only through reading and following my books, you know that depression is a deep topic for me. In the writing, you'll have seen (and felt, according to the reviews -- so go me on doing a good job) the true depth of depression in Fat Chance, the first book in the Kingsley Series (which is now free, if you didn't know; click here for download links). In that book, there's an emphasis on body positivity and learning to love yourself, but there's a deeper message a lot of people don't pick up on.

There's a scene in that book where the main female character, Cass, is so sad and in such a dark place (because of her body image and interactions with certain people who were once close to her) that she finds herself in the bathroom at her job, debating the merits of various eating disorders -- and suicide.

"I'd rather be dead than be fat." 
Would I? Would I rather be dead than be fat? I'm a healthy woman. Large as I am, my body is actually rather fit and I am pretty strong. I'm not likely to die of natural causes anytime soon. Still ... 
Standing there in a stall in the bathroom, I feel a tear slip down my cheek as the old urge rises up. Growing up as a foster kid bullied about my status and my weight, I'd always battled feelings of worthlessness and depression. I'd always battled the idea of suicide, the idea that if I were simply to stop living, no one would care.

Once, I'd stolen a page from Janet's proverbial notebook, and I'd listed all the possible routes of suicide that I could think of. I'd listed the pros and cons of each method. Ultimately, it had been the thought of hurting Janet that had stopped me. I couldn’t thumb my nose at her in that way, not after she had worked so hard to provide a life for me. 
When I was fifteen, in the foster home before I was placed with Janet and her husband Jim, I'd chosen an over-the-counter painkiller and taken three quarters of a bottle with a glass of vodka from my foster father's desk drawer. He came home early that day and found me, so here I am. Still alive. Still fat. Still miserable. And because someone loves me, unable to try it again. 
I would try again, maybe, if not for Janet and the twins. But I’m not alone anymore – I don't have a ton of friends because I don't go out, my insecurities don't allow that; but I do have a family now, and aside from Rick, they love me. And I'm standing here staring at that floating toilet that always terrifies me, and I'm thinking again of suicide. I can't believe myself. 
"I'd rather be dead than be fat." 
I don't know that I'd rather be dead. What I do know is that something has to give. I can't walk that path again; it would tear Janet apart to think that she's failed me somehow, even though she hasn't. It would kill my sisters, for them to realize that as close as we are, there are just some times when I can't turn to them. It isn’t their responsibility to save me – or fix me – and I know that. But I can’t leave them with the burden of feeling like they couldn’t. I know they would think they should have.

Almost immediately following this episode, Cass called a therapist. She made an appointment, and she went to it. She showed up, incredibly sad, embarrassed and ashamed, to ask for help from someone else -- because she had reached a point where she was afraid of her own self. Afraid of how she might handle her pain. Afraid of what she might do -- and what that might do to the people she loved.

Being an author who wants to seem accessible to my readers, I spend a lot of time on social media, and recently my news feeds -- particularly on Facebook -- have been dominated by posts about being depressed, depression awareness, and how to conquer depression. Maybe this is organic, since Depression truly is much more than a keyword to me, or maybe it's because finally, awareness is spreading. Stigma is fading. Now, people like me can step out into the world and say that they've struggled with the demon we call Depression. People like me can do what Cass did -- and we can do it without shame. We can find support. We can find others who fight the battle, too.

Awareness still hasn't reached the deepest, darkest parts of our society though. It hasn't reached every person, it hasn't opened every heart to feel compassion, it hasn't opened every mind to understand.

Depressed people are still seen as "negative," "pessimistic," "irritable," "moody." Your depressed friend calls you, and you roll your eyes and ignore the call because you just can't listen to it anymore. They bring you down. They kill your buzz. Party poopers.

But for today, try to remember how much you might be bringing that person up. Remember how much you mean to them, particularly in those moments when your personal "Wendy Whiner" is reaching out to you ... again. If you've got a "Debbie Downer" or a "Negative Ned" in your life, call them today. Reach out to them, ask them if they're alright, and offer to stand beside them as they work their way through the struggles of life. Do it tomorrow, too. And the day after. Because let me tell you from experience -- you might be the one thing that holds that person back from a precipice you didn't even realize they were standing on.

Be an advocate. Be aware. Love Louder.
And in the meantime, Happy Reading.
B.

33 comments:

  1. Good Read, always important to be an advocate and even more important to be there even in our busy lives in a friend or family truly needs us

    ReplyDelete
  2. Now I feel bad. I cut a constant Debbie Downer out of my life because I just could not take the negativity anymore, but I never gave a thought to what she might be going through. All I could see was that she was making me miserable whenever i was around her with her negative attitude.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's fair enough, and you have to do what you have to do for your own mental health. Sometimes people in the midst of depression don't realize how negative they're being, and it just takes someone asking about it to jar them out. I'm sorry to have made you feel bad about it though.

      Delete
  3. I try to always bring people up when I can. I always remember that I never fully know what they are going through, so I should always be kind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We need more bringer-uppers in the world for sure - it takes more than just telling someone to "look on the bright side," and most people just aren't willing to do much more than that for each other.

      Delete
  4. Been on both sides of this for sure, happy to say I am on the positive side (still large) for some time. The self-esteem needs a lot of work! I do my best to help others in a similar situatin but always good to get a reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Depression is a real thing. It saddens me to know people are suffering (myself included at times). Being there for someone is good, but sometimes it's not enough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's true. There's much more to it than just that.

      Delete
  6. Stigma is definitely fading. I knew since I was sixteen that there was something not right. I felt empty, hollow and sad but got told I was just being a drama queen. It wasn't until my third year of uni that my friend suggested I had depression and it turns out that she was completely right. Coupled with anxiety I was bad at coping at first but now I feel more open about talking about it and more importantly better . I am off to check out Fat Chance, even though it is 2 AM lol x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's amazing what something as simple as awareness can achieve, isn't it?

      Thanks for checking out Fat Chance - I hope you'll like Cass's story!

      Delete
  7. I guess everyone is battling of various kinds of depression. It is important that we have supportive peers around us, so we can cope it easily.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Made me thought of someone and felt guilty not seeing him when he needs me most. Gonna give him a call now. Thanks for this post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you decided to call your friend and check in. I hope it worked out well!

      Delete
  9. So true. I try to be that person who walks a particular friend off the edge. I mentioned she might want to seek help because I don't want anything to happen to her and I didn't so everything I could. I don't think she'd hurt herself, but she would hide in her apartment if she could.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm like that too - when I'm super depressed, I just want to be alone, but at the same time, I feel abandoned and unloved if no one notices to check in with me. Thankfully I have people in my life who notice when I'm not myself, and they call or send texts just to let me know that they notice my absence. It's amazing what that little gesture does for me.

      Delete
  10. Imagine the world with more love and building each other up. It would truly be so powerful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, right? But we can build it, just one person at a time.

      Delete
  11. It's probably because of the Mental Illness Month, depression is their choice to help raise awareness on so that's why there are a lot of articles and posts about it recently. But I agree, it's more than just a keyword. It will take a lot of time before people can take it in and accept it. Plenty are still suffering silently and being judged for it too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know - some days, I'm still one of them. I do thankfully have supportive people in my life who try to understand, but I also have people who still just thinking I'm "negative' or "overdramatic."

      Delete
  12. That's great that you have a platform and get to connect with people who are suffering thought that. Depression can be so debilitating. I have been with a couple of people who suffer from it and it's really hard on them. They definitely need our support and care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's definitely hard, and facing the world view and the stigma of not being able to cope properly is even more so. Being judged makes it worse too - even as open as I am, there is still so much I don't say here, because I've been judged for what I DO say.

      Delete
  13. Depression is something I deal with regularly it seems. I can go a year perfectly fine then out of no where it hits me again and I can't get out of the funk for months.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Man, I wish I could go a year, that would be amazing! Between Depression, Anxiety, and other PTSD-related issues, I probably feel totally normal about twice a month, lol. But regardless of the time between episodes, there's no denying what a challenge this is to live with.

      Delete
  14. This is a very challenging topic. I have known a lot of people who have suffered from depression and weight issues and I know the issues are very challenging.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This hits close to home. I use to struggle with my weight but now I just work out every day and finalyl found a healthy medium with my diet. I have come a long way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's amazing being able to look back and see the changes, I imagine.

      Delete
  16. Unfortunately not everyone is aware about depression. It is more important to educate the public to raise awareness and let everyone know that helping others is truly beneficial for everyone. :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for writing this! I know you and I speak about this topic often. I have to tell you I am very into the realness and rawness of your writing. Depression is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Anyway I can support you please let me know~!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I feel like those around me have embraced those with depression, and so have I, however reading this post has made me realize, that embracing is not enough, as I need to love louder! I will begin practicing that.

    ReplyDelete

Like this post? Leave me a comment - and don't forget to check "notify me" so you'll get an alert when I reply!

REAL CHARACTERS. HONEST LOVE. BRANDI KENNEDY BOOKS.