I have faced depression. It has come for me in the middle of the night and under cheery classroom lights. I have sat numb and watched the world pass me by. But I have also conquered depression; squashed it with happiness, with music, and friends. I chased it away, and for me, it will never come back. But I have a friend who is not so lucky, and I don’t know what to do.
John is brilliant, passionate, and hard-working. Like a knight in his history books, he goes into academic battle with fervor and excitement. There seems to be no literary challenge too great for his eager mind. But that is not enough to protect him. He aches so badly. The darkness has found cracks in his foundation and it rips him apart from the inside. We have spent hours in the confines of his room talking, searching for, I don’t know, maybe it’s happy things, maybe just an explanation for his sadness. Last night, he described his depression to me as rape; darkness violating him at all hours of the day, for months at a time, unrelenting and unforgiving. As he said this, his pupils widened, almost eclipsing the irises, so that I could see down into his broken soul. He admitted to me his occasional desire for eternal sleep as a means of escaping his weakness. I told him that every breath, every gesture, every thought he made was an attack against depression. That depression wanted him dead. A weak person, I told him, would not be alive right now. Every day, despite his pain, he gets up and lives, and that for that reason he is strong. This conversation lasted well over an hour, and although some meaningful words were exchanged, I don’t know that he heard me, or if anything I said was helpful. I’m out of ideas. I’ve expended every last ounce of my wisdom. My friendship cannot keep the darkness away. All I can do now is support him and pray. But that feels like so little. I feel like I’ve failed him.