Due to the recent suicides of designer, Kate Spade and chef, Anthony Bourdain, many people have posted well-meant messages on social media. For example, they urge people who are depressed to call a hotline, or they remind people considering suicide that they have value, or, well, you get it. And I don’t think that’s a bad idea, but the ever-brilliant Athenae explains why it’s not enough. explains why it’s not enough. I hope she won’t mind if I quote her quite extensively here.
When I was thinking of making a hole in the Chicago river back in 2014, or 2004, or 6 weeks ago, I KNEW I WAS LOVED. I KNEW THERE WERE HOTLINES. I KNEW PEOPLE CARED. You know what I thought? “The people who love me are idiots who’ll come to realize how wrong they were.”Depression LIES TO YOU. About everything, but especially about how smart it is.It tells you that hotlines are stupid and your loved ones are morons and that doctors and medication won’t work. I fight this every day and it is CRAFTY as a motherfucker. I have been on medication for 15 years now and it still occasionally outsmarts me.. . .You know what helped me? Doctors who took me seriously. Insurance that paid for my therapy. Insurance that paid for the incredibly expensive meds I was taking and will take every day for the rest of my life. MONEY to pick up what insurance didn’t.And the blind stupid fucking luck that got me all those things in a reasonable amount of time.People without my privilege wait months for doctors, or see shitty ones who say, “It’s all in your head. Go exercise.” They’re put on meds that don’t work, or that they can’t afford. They’re jacked around by insurance companies.They get fired when they’re late or forget things or have to see a doctor during some bullshit 9-5 hours doctors keep.I saw a tweet today that said, “We have to talk about suicide more.” No. We don’t. We have to talk about the bullshit economics of health care and medical attitudes toward mental illness.We are all over the place this week yelling YOU ARE VALUED like depressives are just too dumb to know that and we fucking know. Help isn’t just listening. It’s fighting for infrastructure that will make a real difference in treating this asshole of a disease.Walk in clinics in every neighborhood. Free meds. Doctors who know how to treat this like a real illness. And yes, family and friend support. Call the hotlines. Call your buds. But don’t yell at people who are already hanging on by a thread and feel shitty about themselves to just magically know their real worth. It doesn’t work like that, depression. I wish to hell it did.
If you really care about people with depression, you have to show up and vote for the politicians who aren’t trying to cut health care. You have to vote for the politicians who will fund health care, including mental health and who will pass laws that prevent employers from firing people who need to see their doctors. Posting the phone number for the local hotline is nice, but if you don’t vote for the politicians who will fund that hotline, forgive me if I’m not too impressed with your deep empathy.