November 27th and 28th are grim anniversaries for me–on both days, a wonderful person I loved lost his battle with depression. I initially wrote this post for my friend Stan Mak, who passed away on November 27th, 2013, but I’m sharing it again in memory of Jevon Mastrangelo as well (November 28th, 2007). November is a tough month for many – if you are struggling, please remember that depression LIES. You are loved, and you are making a difference in the world, even on the days you can’t get out of bed. Someone out there needs you, though you might not know it. Please share this post with anyone you think might need it. – With much love to Jevon, Stan, and everyone who is struggling or has struggled with this terrible disease. <3 You are NOT alone.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in the devil. The devil believes in you.
Depression is a silent killer. Why? Because we don’t believe in it. Much like a boogeyman under the bed or a monster in the closet, we don’t believe it exists.
And that’s when it gets us.
Because, above all else, Depression plays for keeps.
We lost a wonderful man yesterday. His name was Stan. He was 43 years old. He had two darling little girls, and he loved his wife. He had a strong network of amazing friends. He was talented–a well-known sound guy in the local film industry, he had a great eye for photography, and could whip up some wicked fried rice. He was responsible for some pretty amazing Halloween costumes too.
Stan was obsessed with music and movies. And above all, he had a good heart. Stan cared about people. He loved them with everything he had to give and could be the most caring friend, brother, son, husband and father you’ve ever seen. He had a great laugh–it seemed like he was always smiling.
And we lost him.
People will say he killed himself, but the truth is, my friend Stan had a disease. A terrible, horrible, insidious disease that made him feel nothing but despair. That robbed him of his joy. That convinced him he had nothing left to live for.
Depression killed him.
People who are dying of this disease usually know. Every day is a slow, excruciating exercise in treading quicksand. It’s a fight just to keep one’s head from going under. Some people do all the right things, like Stan did.
They talk to their friends. They try to go out and have fun. They struggle to find joy in life. They go to the doctor. They take anti-depressants.
But just like chemotherapy doesn’t always cure cancer, doing the right thing doesn’t always cure depression.
And the more we refuse to believe that depression is, in fact, a serious DISEASE that kills people every fucking day, the more it will steal the people we love from us.
For every Stan who goes for help, there a million more who suffer in silence.
If you lived in fear of the boogeyman, would you admit it?
We say depression is a weakness, it’s a choice, it doesn’t have to be that way, the person who is ill should fight it or hold on or wait or try a little bit harder….
Do we ever say people who die of cancer could control it? Or should have been stronger, or fought harder? Why is a disease of the body given so much more respect than a disease of the mind, when the mind controls everything? There is no body without the mind.
Suicide is a big ugly guilt bomb that explodes over everyone.
But if we waste time feeling guilty, we’re missing the point.
Guilt is all about us, not the person we lost.
Depression wants us to feel guilty, because then it wins. And hey, if we feel guilty enough, maybe it can claim another one of us.
When a loved one dies of cancer, what do we do? We get angry. We raise money. We hold fundraisers and awareness events and yell, “Fuck you, cancer! We’re not taking this lying down! You’re not going to take another one of our friends.”
So why can’t we do that for depression?
Because trust me, depression needs to have its ass kicked.
Do it for Stan.
I love you, buddy.