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The Steep Price of Depression (Pt. 2)

by Nathan Scot Wells 3 years ago in depression
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And the Oscar-Worthy Performance

The Oscar-Worthy Performance

One of the most frustrating misconceptions of depression is that depressed people should be visually sad or emotional, or even worse, depressed people are just attention seekers. I think every time I would hear one of these statements during my “dark days,” a piece of my heart died from the sheer ignorance to the issue. Nothing could be found further from the truth. People suffering from depression often make it their life’s mission to hide what’s going on inside by almost creating a separate identity of themselves. They do this almost like an actor who embraces becoming a different person for a role. In all honesty, I learned to perfect this “alternative character” of myself in almost Oscar-Worthy proportions.

I believe Robin Williams said it best when he stated, “I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy, because they know what it’s like to feel worthless and they don’t want others to feel like that.” The extremes people will go to disguise depression are unbelievable. However, the most remarkable thing they do is go out of their way to make others happy.

Until you’ve lived it, there’s honestly no way of understanding it. One of the biggest reasons for this, in my opinion, is the unreal stigma that still resides around the topic of depression or suicide.

The Stigmas

When I released Part One of this series, the outpouring of love and positivity was overwhelming. I received messages from others opening up about their own struggles with depression, and that dialogue was exactly what I was hoping to create by opening up about my own experience. However, just as those messages poured in, there were others asking me “Why would you even consider suicide? What a waste!” Or accusing me with, “You had people you could’ve talked to and you chose to keep your struggles to yourself.” These messages hurt, yes, but more than anything they pointed out how far we really are from breaking the stigma. This empowered me more than ever to put on my running shoes to bring the fight against the stigma right into the mud where it belongs.

If you are reading this and struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You matter! We need you! Don’t give up! Call now.

I personally played the “alternative character” game for well over five years. I literally created another identity for myself. The identity I showed the world was the fun, upbeat, always happy, life-is-perfect guy. It worked too, and I could shine with that character on social media just as well as I could in person. However, identity two would have me curled in the fetal position like the scared little boy that I was, praying I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the reality of a life with depression. Just take a minute to research stories of people who committed suicide, and you’ll always hear the same thing from the family. "We didn’t know anything was wrong. We thought everything was okay."

Another major element that added to the growing pot of instability was my career. I started working in patient care two weeks after my 18th birthday. I spent every day seeing people at their worst, and that’s, simply put, the nature of the career. However, the patients needed me at my best when I was literally at my worst, too. Their stories weighed on me until I honestly got to the point where I didn’t even care anymore. Also factor in a very unexpected job loss due to a department outsourcing, and that was just another ingredient to the disaster. It‘s also what led me to the point of my second suicide attempt. And to that situation... I have no other explanations of what got me through that other than it was a complete miracle.

What I needed me to be

In the end, I had to come to the realization that the world around me needed me to be something that I wasn’t and would never be. That certainly wasn’t a fun conversation to have either, but it was exactly the conversation that had to happen. Ironically, so many people I’ve spoken to who battled with depression have said they came to the exact same conclusion about their own lives. If this doesn’t help solidify my point that we are all fighting the same battle, just in different situations, I don’t know what will.

Now, of course, this is the point where running eventually came in to be my saving grace. It gave me a sense of freedom that I’m not even sure I ever had in my life before the depression. However, there were other things that added to the new found happiness such as listening to Dolly Parton‘s “Better Get to Living” everyday, on repeat. I also spent a lot of nights of insomnia with Andy Cohen’s show to keep me company, because it was always on when I was awake. Plus, the laughter was always what I needed. Additionally, I started following everyday people on YouTube like Matt and Blue, who seemed to spread more positivity with each episode no matter what was going on in the in the world around them, which was something I needed more than anything. Positivity... It was like learning to breathe again.

Now, here I am at 26, embarking on the adventure of a lifetime by running 50 races all around the United States of America. It’s been stressful, hard work, and tiresome (Not to mention the merry band of friends and family who believe I’ve officially jumped off the deep end.). However, I made this decision because I refuse to believe I was made to work 40+ hours a week for 40 to 50 years, then retire, only to end up dying before I get to see the world. I fought too hard to get my life back to live in such a ridiculous routine. It may be for some people, but it’s not for me. I’m still alive typing all of this for a reason, and I intend on being around long enough to find out why. I want to be able to die one day with the peace that I did everything I wanted to with the time I was given.

He tried

I will close this entry with a little story. I had someone tell me last week that I had “a remarkable life“ after discussing my story with them. I couldn’t help but laugh. They looked at me with a confused expression and I finally said, “Remarkable? No! I am for the first time living my own life. One day at a time. And one day those days will run out. Then, they will likely put on my tombstone 'First time he ever shut his mouth!'” I laughed. “But I hope they will also say he tried. He tried to make his small little part of the world a better place with his good days... By telling everyone who would listen about his bad days.”

We thank you for your support. All tips go to benefit making the #50FORLIFE project a complete success.


About the author

Nathan Scot Wells

Runner of Trails, Author of Books, Father of Two Dogs, and Fighter of Depression. Follow my #50FORLIFE Depression Awareness Project & Van Life!

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