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Austin Elmo Stone

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A Valentine’s Day Message

Living with depression

Every morning, shortly after my alarm clock drags me back into reality, I go through the same routine. Or maybe “ritual” is a more fitting word. It’s almost religious; the day can’t begin until the ritual is concluded.


I ridicule a part of myself. Why do I do this? Because there is a part of me that lies. Terrible, cruel and vile lies. So, each morning as I struggle to drag myself from my bed, and those same niggling thoughts creep into my mind, I remember that they’re just lies. So I mock them. I scoff at the suggestion that I’m not good enough. I sneer at the insinuation that “wouldn’t it have been better if…?”

This, dear reader, is how my day begins, and it’s incredibly difficult to talk about, to explain, even to write about.

Still, it’s much harder to live with. Of course, this daily ritual helps, but the scary part comes at those times when it’s not clear what is a lie, and what is real. When those subconsciously niggling doubts become fully formed and intelligible beliefs – those are the moments I fear.

You see, I have clinical depression. This means that I’m in it for the long haul. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t be well, or that I can’t be happy. Medication helps and, more than anything, great friends help. Truth be told, my friends save my life every day and they don’t even know it. I sure as hell don’t tell them often enough.

When I was 18 years old I tried to kill myself. Everyday a small part of me fights to convince me that it would have been better if I’d succeeded. It whispers seductively in the back of my mind with half truths.

“Your best years are behind you”, it says. “Everyone would be better off”, echoes around my skull. Thankfully it’s little more than a whisper, most of the time. I’ve trained myself to deal with it. My friends (those that know I have depression at least) seem to have a special knack of realising when that whisper is growing louder. They take me by the hand and walk me back to them. Back to reason.

It isn’t the sadness that overwhelms (although it does try), but rather it’s the numbness that I dread. It’s not uncommon to be in a room full of friends and suddenly a wave hits and I feel completely alone. And then I look up and see that one friend in the crowd that knows. That friend walks over to me and smiles and says the just right thing.

Like I said, my friends save my life every day. On this Valentine’s Day, when all around the world people profess their love for that one special person in their life, I thought it more fitting to profess my love, and appreciation, for all those that stand with me. I don’t deserve them, and there are no words that can adequately express how much they mean to me. Still, it’s only right that I try.

You really, truly have saved me. When the numbness comes, and the cold engulfs me. When all I see is shades of blue, it’s you that bring me back. The shouting recedes to a whisper and from the blueness, warm colours bloom and burn. The numbness fades and feeling returns as joy begins to seep in. All because of all of you. I love you.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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