Listen, I know you’re busy. And you probably don’t want to read anything super long. So I’ll make it quick. I promise. Once I’ve typed 2,345,402 words, I’ll stop writing.
But I’m worried about you.
No. Please. Don’t stop reading yet. Because I’m serious. You are not all right. You haven’t told your family what you’re going through. Your friends don’t know either. You’re depressed. And depression is a real thing.
Sure, it’s easy to hide it right now with everyone quarantining. But you’re drowning. And I just want you to know you have a friend.
The weird thing about depression is that it’s like a mosquito bite that infects you with yellow fever. On the surface it’s a little swollen area. No big deal. It’s just a tiny bite. Suck it up cupcake. But underneath the skin it’s Hiroshima. And yellow fever doesn’t just go away until it’s done some damage.
So when people tell you, “don’t be sad,” or “cheer up,” or whatever stupid things they say, they’re talking out of their hindparts.
Telling someone to cheer up during depression is like telling a man with pancreatic cancer to “snap out of it.”
The concept of mental health among most Americans is totally screwed up. We get it all wrong. To many, the term “mental illness” is another way of saying, “Whoa, that guy’s a whack job.” And this makes people who suffer ashamed to admit they’re suffering.
It’s not fair. And it’s downright cruel. A guy who breaks his leg in a skiing accident is likely to get more genuine concern from his friends than someone with clinical depression.
But we can’t change society, so I don’t want to get off track by talking about that. I don’t have enough room. Besides, the real reason I am writing this is because I want you to know that you’re not alone.
Look, just because nobody ADMITS they’re depressed right now doesn’t mean they aren’t. They’re just not telling you about it.
Don’t believe me? Well, the U.S. Census Bureau just announced that one third of Americans are probably clinically depressed due to the pandemic.
Take a second and think about that little statistic. One third of all America means people you actually know. Right now. This is like saying that the entire population of roughly 17 U.S. states suffers from major depressive disorder.
This is not just a tiny problem. Depression is stabbing people faster than a knife fight in a closet. A federal emergency hotline reported a 1000 percent increase in depression cases since the pandemic began. Online therapy companies have reported a 65 percent increase in patients.
And right now suicide rates are the highest they’ve been since World War II.
“We have people now who don’t know how to feed their family,” says American Psychiatric Association President Jeffrey Geller. “There are masses of people who are quite worried today because they don’t know what is going to happen… That kind of anxiety exacerbates fragility.”
Even though you might not realize it, a mass psychological trauma is happening in your backyard. This pandemic is more than a mere virus. It’s anxiety, fear, unemployment, addictions, overdoses, isolation, and you have every right to feel depressed. You’re not crazy. You’re human.
You are undergoing real trauma, and trauma alters your brain. I wish I could explain how it all works, but I can’t. Because I don’t know how it works. I’m a plain hick from Nowhere, U.S.A. without credentials.
Even so, I do know depression. I’ve had it myself. And I know you’re humiliated to admit that you have it. Which only makes it worse.
You have no reason to trust me—I think we’ve already established I’m a hick—but if you can’t admit the truth to yourself, you’re not going to get better. And I’ll bet you really want to get better.
We all want you to get better. And that’s the key here. Other people. Other people are going to help you.
You can’t get through this on your own. You probably think you can, but that’s the illusion major depressive disorders create.
You can’t yank yourself out of this funk any more than you can find your way through the Grand Canyon blindfolded and drunk.
That’s not the way it works. If you try to get better by yourself you will fail. Please read that last sentence again if you need to.
You need friends. Family. And professionals who know what the heck they’re doing. These are your golden tickets. But they can’t help you if you don’t tell them what’s going on.
So I’m running out of room here, and I know I promised I’d keep it short. But I lied. Still, maybe when you see these words, they will find you at just the right time. Maybe you’ll be having a terrible day. Maybe you’ll be a mess.
Maybe you were contemplating doing something infinitely stupid to yourself when you came across these poorly written paragraphs. Maybe you actually read this all the way through.
If you did, I hope you know that this guy is your friend. This faceless stranger stayed up into the middle of the night writing you this letter because he loves you.
But then, my words don’t mean much. Yours mean everything. So share them. Tell someone how you feel.
If you can’t find anyone, I know a hick who is ready to listen.