This week Charlotte Dawson committed suicide. She was a media personality, a celebrity. She also publicly acknowledged she suffered from depression.
For some reason trolls on social networking sites had been bullying her. I don’t understand bullying. Many people don’t understand depression.
But I do. I also suffer from depression and have most of my life. I started to feel like this aged about 12 or 13. Hormones, they said. Troubled teenager. Moody.
It is not that. You can’t pull yourself together when your brain is suffering a chemical imbalance or wonky wiring. No-one tells a diabetic to get over themselves, and have some sweets. They look out for them, watch for signs of insulin imbalance. Make sure meals are regular and medication handy.
People with depression often have to deal with all this themselves.
Depression is not just feeling down. Depression is feeling weighed down. All day. All night. It makes simple things so much harder. I still have a lot of trouble making simple decisions. In fact today I rang my husband from the supermarket so he could tell me what to buy for lunch. That decision was too hard for me today because I am tired and hungry.
I am well supported. My doctor is great. Through trial and error we have a medication plan which works as long as I take my one pill each day. To help me keep track of this I write the first letter of each day on each pill. This means I know at a glance whether I have taken it or not. My husband is also very supportive. He knows to ask the right questions if I start to feel down – he starts with the obvious ones. Have I run today? Have I eaten? He listens. And does not judge.
For many years they were the only people who officially knew. But recently I outed myself. Why not? it is not my fault that I suffer this. There may even be a genetic makeup as I suspect numerous members of my family, through my mother’s side, suffer or have suffered. It is just who I am.
It was just who Charlotte was too.
In discussing her death I have heard so many people ask why she went on the internet. Why she read what these trolls wrote about her and to her.
Charlotte probably had voices in her head. I know I do. I have learned to tell mine to fuck off. Thanks to three years of intensive counselling. But they are still there, whispering. I hear them.
I read a book on Sunday night. Jodie Picoult’s The Pact. Two teenagers appear to have had a double suicide pact but only Emily died. Chris is charged with first degree murder. This was their story. When Emily was nine she was molested by a man in the toilets at McDonalds. The whole episode probably took less than a minute. He rubbed his hands over her non-existent breasts and stuck his finger right up her vagina. A cheap thrill for him. A lifetime curse for her.
I was also sexually abused in a similar manner when I was 10. And again by a different person when I was 12. Both men, though in reality they were only older teenagers, probably don’t remember anything about it. I know I shoved it into a dark recess of my brain. But things don’t stay hidden. They have a habit of jumping out and scaring you when you least expect it.
At a time when I was coming to terms with the changes a child goes through as he or she begins the journey to adulthood, two innocent invitations to come and see what someone has in their treehouse or tent leads me to being an adult who is still very wary of physical contact. Both these lads were well known to me and I trusted them. I probably looked up them. They returned my hero worship by abusing my body and my trust.
And their legacy is voices in my head. Useless. No-one wants you. No-one likes you. Can’t do anything. What’s the point.
Jodie Picoult’s Emily had these voices in her head. She silenced them with a gun.
Charlotte Dawson had voices in her head. And also on her computer. She silenced them on Saturday.
My voices are still there. I am not listening to them today. But I never know when they too will get too loud for me to cope with.