Depressed? Community will make you stronger.

Most of you didn’t know me then.  And that doesn’t matter at all.  Because you love me now.

The bulk of my readership is from the town I live in.  And as I check my Google analytics obsessively (because stats are crazy interesting) I see towns pop up and in some cases I know who is looking.  Small towns where I know one or two people and I feel the love coming from across the state or across the nation.

Community is so important.  

I might go as far as to say that community is everything.

And I have a crazy amazing community.  Five or six of them to be precise.

I have my roller derby community.  I have my Starbucks community.  I have my blood family.  I have my friends I made through my wife. I have my local public library community.  I have my book club. I have my church. I have the LGBT teen group I help with.

(I keep adding to this list as I write because I think of even more amazing people and communities I am a part of.  It’s kind of cool and might or might not be making me cry a little)

I have people who are in my corner cheering me on and loving me every step of the way.

I know if I have a rough day at therapy and need a hug, all I have to do is walk up the street to the library and there are hugs waiting.

I look forward to going to work because of the amazing people whom I stand behind the line and sling lattes with.  People who motivate and inspire me to be the best I can be, at my job and in my life.

When I deal with depression one of the first things I notice is that I start to isolate.  I start to slowly boot people out of my life and cut off human connection.  I run away.  Because it hurts to be loved by others when I can’t find the strength to love myself.

Guys, this is incredibly hard for me to do at this point in my life.  Because I know if I fall off the face of the map for more than a day or two without notice, someone is going to contact me.  Which will disprove all the bullshit rattling around in my head.  Because I am not invisible.  I am not unlovable.  I am not a fucked up piece of shit who nobody gives a damn about.  (real talk this is what my brain likes to tell me sometimes)

Because I am surrounded by crazy amounts of love and support.  And it’s hard to get depressed when you have people reminding you of your innate awesomeness.

And we are all innately awesome

If you are struggling right now.  Fight to keep your community.  Reach out to someone.  Anyone.  Even if it is a friend online whom you have never met in person (there are a few of those reading this who saved my life a few times.  You know who you are).  Find community you can be a part of.  The internet is good for this my friends.  No one knows you haven’t had the energy to shower in 3 days if you’re behind a computer screen!  Push yourself to avoid isolation.  Send me a message.  For real.  Because you are not alone.  Don’t let the lies tell you so.

And if you know someone who is struggling right now.  Fight to stay.  Send a message and keep sending them even if there is no reply.  Take care of yourself.  Lean on YOUR community.  Do what you can to encourage them to be around people. There is a reason I love coffee shops.  I can avoid being alone with minimal human contact.  Take care of yourself.  I’ll say that part again.  Take care of yourself.

This is a love letter to you my dear friends.

Thank you for all you do to support me.  Even if it’s simply clicking “like” on a post.  Or showing up in my analytics reports.  Because I see the statistics and say “I don’t even KNOW that many people in Chicago!”

Thank you.