In case you missed it, the internet totally lost it this week over JK Rowling’s tweets that offered hope to a fan who asked about “finally giving up.”
And to those tweets I say, “Yes, J.K. Yes.”
Yes, and. . .
there is so much more.
Many of you are in a dark questioning place right now, looking for a reason to live. I know this because I have seen the search queries that have led you to our stories. To those unknown souls, Hello. I see you there. I’m with you. Don’t leave us. This is for you:
We have discovered together, after sharing our stories, that when you are in the thickest, murkiest part of depression the hardest truth of all is that we can’t give each other reasons to live. But, maybe we can remind each other how to live.
I’ve been in that dark place, too. Depression once turned the cozy warmth of my bed into an unhealthy hideout. I remember what it feels like to have a head, packed heavy with racing thoughts, pinned to my pillow. There was a time when I thought I couldn’t even walk outside my apartment. I have had days when the only thing that forced me out of bed was the need to pee. (Nature’s little way of saying, “Hey, honey. You’re still here.”) And I know that those moments right after you remember that you’re still alive are the worst- just the fucking worst.
So, what are you supposed to do after your feet hit the ground again?
Don’t search for big-picture things like purpose or meaning or reasons to live, because you probably won’t be able to see them. Even on our best days, searching for purpose can be as fruitful as searching for a pet unicorn that dumps Nutella and speaks in Gilmore Girl quotes. And the Meaning of Life is so hard to interpret–like worse than the worst Vaguebooker you know. When you are stuck in depression, you will look for reasons to live and you will get frustrated, and then you will want to give up.
Please don’t give up. We want you here. We need you to be here.
Instead of hunting for your big-picture signs, first try to put your feet on that cold hard ground and take a few baby steps (or the “next right step” like Glennon Melton writes about on her blog). Sometimes those first steps look like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, or drinking a glass of water. Perhaps your steps will let you stumble your way to church, or into a screaming fit with God. You might even walk your way back into a beloved friendship.
(Don’t think you have a trusted friend? There are people you can call. Or you can email me. I’ll be here, cheering you on. Holding your hand. Crying with you.)
I can’t tell you exactly what your first baby steps will be, but I know they will be messy. And painful. And so unbelievably worth it.
And, I know this truth–this is the best news–you don’t have to chase your purpose, because one day your clumsy steps will move you right into the middle of things that make sense again. Things that make you feel again. One day you will plop your unsure feet on the ground, ready to step into the same drudging journey, and the fog will have lifted just enough for you to remember sunsets and breakfast for dinner and your nephew’s eyes. Eventually, you will open your eyes and you will realize that those glimpses of hope–your reasons, if you will–have been waiting for you all along.
But, it all starts with those first wobbly, terrifying steps. Baby steps. Brave steps.
Just take the next step.
You’ve got this, honey.
*If you feel like you might be depressed and you would like to take that first step towards healing, please know that there are valuable resources available to you. I have listed a few of them here. Please do not be afraid to seek professional help along with support from friends and family.*