988

tWitch’s death has spread around the globe and rocked many. He shone a light on your screens via television and social media. His life seemed golden and perfect with a beautiful family and successful career. Through this all, I’ve seen some posts where people claimed he was “selfish” and he had “so many options”. These people don’t seem to understand depression.

There is a difference between being depressed and having depression

Let me say that again for the people in the back

There is a difference between being depressed and having depression.

Over the years, I was depressed over finances, career, and relationships. It was a sucky feeling. It wasn’t until my late 40’s that I truly experienced serious depression. When that happened, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I let things go like my house, my relationships, and my body. Avoidance was my safety net. I would lie in bed crying for hours. I would ignore phone calls and text messages. I would overeat to make myself feel better. I would shop, read romance novels, and generally avoid my real life. What I wouldn’t do, is tell anyone I needed help. My depression was my little secret that I was able to compartmentalize and hide from the world.

I knew I reached a low point when I didn’t shower for days and had no desire to leave my home. My therapist, at the time, encouraged me to tell people about my depression to form a community. So I did. I went out to dinner with friends and said, “I am being treated for depression.” Everyone around the table talked about seeing therapists and one had also tried medication. I left feeling like my friends understood. I had hoped they would have understood that I had pulled away over the years because I was drowning in utter despair. Reaching out to people was overwhelming for me. Maybe too many bridges were burned because not one of them ever reach out to see how I was doing after that. An conversation that practically ripped out my heart to share, went mostly unnoticed.

What did I do? With encouragement from my therapist, I reached out to other people and formed a new community that knows I live with depression and they check on me regularly. I also started on Celexa and do therapy a few times a month. It’s not easy. I still have days where the combination of grief and depression make me stay in bed all weekend, but I am actively trying. I still have the original group of friends, but I have worked to expand to others who are actually have time for me. I also changed some of my behavior.

I used to stay up all night hyperfocusing on negative thoughts. Now I play an audio book that distract me and allow me to sleep easier.

Instead of sleeping all day, I had been going for a walk. Unfortunately, my recent bouts with pneumonia, Covid, Covid rebound, and bronchitis and bronchia asthma have made walking long distances challenge. I’m hoping to work back up to it.

I used to keep my feelings locked up tight, as if depression was a dirty secret. Now I’m writing a book in which I’ll depict a character living with depression. My hope is that by telling this story, it will help someone else not feel such despair.

Writing is my way to escape depression. Instead of continuing to drown in my desperate numbing sadness, I created characters and told stories of hope and love. I blogged about my life and hoped to connect with others who may be experiencing similar things.

We need to stop telling people with depression to reach out if we aren’t prepared to step up, Everyone has good intentions, but people’s perception bias and busy lifestyles often gets in the way. Instead share resources that can actually help. In the United States we now have 988. A 3 digit phone number designed to help people in crisis. From their website:

“988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (now known as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline), and is now active across the United States.

When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing Lifeline network. These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.

The previous Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will always remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis.

Credit: 988lifeline.org

We may never know why tWitch decided to leave this world, nor is it our business. For me, I feel his loss from this Earth and my heart aches for his family. His dancing inspired me and made me smile. His performances brought me joy and I had so wished I could dance like him for just a moment. Thank you tWitch for bringing me joy.

Tonight, I’d love to curl up on my couch and stay inside, but I know I need to get out. Even momentarily. I’m going to see Christmas lights. I’m going to walk among people who area also celebrating the Christmas season. Do I want to do this? No. It’s cold and I am feeling a bit groggy from my infusion. Why am I going? Because it will be good for my mental health to get out of my house.

Wishing everyone who feels despair some hope. Reach out to 988 Lifeline. Take it one step at a time. RIP Stephen tWitch Boss. Your smile and talent touched the world.

Posted by

Kelly holds masters degrees in both Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology. She works full-time as a speech-language pathologist in both a public school setting and as an adjunct faculty member at a university, in Philadelphia, PA. She specializes in both autism and augmentative/alternative communication and took her skills to Uganda, Africa to start a special needs program for disabled children living in an orphanage in 2011. Kelly began experiencing symptoms of autoimmune arthritis in 1984 (while in her teens) but wasn’t officially diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis until 2001. Her first diagnosis was Sjogren’s syndrome. Eventually her diagnosis was changed to sero-negative RA and now Polyarticular Spondlyoarthropathy. She also manages thyroid disease (resulting from Graves Disease), fibromyalgia, renin-deficient hypertension, and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis (DSAP) on a daily basis. Kelly connected with other autoimmune arthritis patients via social media in 2008. She began volunteering with the “Buckle Me UP! Movement”, which evolved into the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) beginning in 2009. Then became a cofounder of IFAA in 2013. She has represented the ACR on Capitol Hill as an Advocate for Arthritis, was a finalist in Wego Health’s Health Activist Hero awards in 2014, and speaks at various healthcare conferences as a patient advocate in the Philadelphia area.

7 thoughts on “988

  1. Girl, please know I’m ALWAYS here for you from afar. I’m not right around the corner but can spend any amount of time on the phone. I love you! I’ve never been depressed and am grateful for that. But can certainly empathize w you. Your last 2 years have been shitty! You bring so much joy and I loved the few days we had together!
    I was shook by tWitches passing n my heart aches for his family. Know you always have purpose here…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I heard about Twitch, I felt I knew why this had happened. Of course i have no idea about what Twitch felt, or why, but I knew what being a man in his mid 40’s and feeling like it was time to end life felt like. I could not go on. I was forced to do so, but I was well past living and was instead barley surviving.

    I felt it again in my early 50’s and that time It nearly got me. I had been depressed sine i was a child, Enough was not enough and too much was barley acceptable. What did it take? Time, therapy, medication a wife willing to fight for, against and sometimes with me.

    It is a long road, I wish Twitch had made it. The world lost. He will not know how much he was loved, but even if he did know, we can be assured, it would not have been enough.

    Liked by 1 person

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