Just this year we've lost several giants of both the entertainment and design worlds, with Robin Williams being the most recent. When depression strangles us into suicidal thoughts, it morphs our reality into a very dark and narrow myopia. Even though the periphery is effulgent and filled loved ones, and fulfillment just waiting to be embraced, we'll never see it when we're in that state. It doesn't even occur to us.
Over 34,000 people die every year to suicide. That's one person every 15 minutes.
Never ignore suicidal thoughts and if you know someone who has these thoughts, always take it seriously. If you are feeling suicidal or if someone you know is experiencing these thoughts, it is considered a medical emergency and imperative to seek the help of a mental health professional.
What causes depression?
Depression cloaks us in such varying degrees and is caused by so many factors. Genetics, diet, medication side effects, repression, etc. Yet the common denominator is how often and how long it goes undetected. Typically we are depressed and self-medicating well before it is diagnosed, if it's ever diagnosed. Self-medication begins the carousel of its own dizzying side effects often turning into addiction which is a deadly pairing for depression.
One reason depression does not get diagnosed is because of the stigma around emotional imbalance or mental illness. We are reluctant to get help, thinking we'll 'snap out of it'. Writer Anne Lamott recently posted on her Facebook page this morning a perfect description of how it feels for someone experiencing depression, "life here feels like you were just left off here one day, with no instruction manual, and no idea of what you were supposed to do; how to fit in; how to find a day's relief from the anxiety, how to keep your beloved alive; how to stay one step ahead of abyss."
While it's normal to feel down in the dumps periodically, it's important to know the symptoms of major depression and to track how long you experience them. If it's recurring and/or continues for more than two weeks and affecting your daily life, then it is considered a medical condition which requires professional attention and treatment.
The great news is that there is an abundance of treatment options and resources available. If we can just rise above our own embarrassment of it. Find that pinhole of light, stretch it open for clarity and get help, we'll find that it can be successfully treated through a variety of holistic and allopathic therapies.
Dealing with a loved one & their depression:
If you're someone who has never personally experienced depression, then you probably don't know the darkness and hopelessness felt by someone who is. When we encounter someone with depression our response to it often varies. Treating depression as an illness, rather than something that's 'just in their head' can open our capacity for understanding it better. Most of all, be in your humanity. Lead with your heart rather than the fear. We never fully know what others might be going through. People who experience depression need to be seen and heard more than ever. The darkness isolates them and there is nothing worse to be misunderstood or criticized while in that state.
Have you or a loved one experienced depression? Tell me in the comments below how you're tackling it.
Also please share this with your friends & family..it might just help shine a light into dark places.