The deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade this week brought have to the surface my own battles with Depression. I have been diagnosed with clinical depression and been battling it for the past 24 years. Those who do not suffer from this condition can have a hard time understanding why those with the affliction can not just cheer up. I have been told to cheer up numerous times and that it is just an emotion. Well, I am here to tell you it is not just that. Yes, there is the emotion of depression but this usually lasts a couple of day or may be weeks. When you are dealing with the condition it lasts for 6 months or more. It continues day by day and year to year.
Let me ask you have you ever felt alone in a room filled with loved ones? Have you battled just to get out of bed asking yourself what is the use? Have you ever looked around and thought of different ways of ending your life? Have you ever spent weeks or months or years not taking care of your personal hygiene? Wallowing in your own filth only cleaning yourself to keep up appearences? Thinking no one cares or tries to understand you? Have you ever felt like if I were gone no one would miss me or that they would be better off without me? This is what depression the condition feels like. I continually feel this way. It is a constant struggle fighting yourself for a glimmer of hope. I have attempted suicide before, a couple of times actually. Thank goodness I never owned a gun or I would not be writing this blog right now.
It is difficult living with depression as you can see, but it can be done. It takes time, patients, medication and talk therapy for the person who is dealing with depression. For those who love them it takes understanding, acceptance, and empathy. Never looking down on them because you think that it will pass. Too those who love someone with depression you must learn the differences between the emotion and the condition. I have been told in the past by friends and family that “you just need to think positively and this will pass.” It is not that easy. That to a person dealing with depression pushes them further from you and leaves them thinking, you just do not want to deal with them. Which increases their chances of taking their own life.
This part is for those who suffer from depression. Your friends and family can only do so much to help you. You must be willing to work on yourself. I know many do not want to take prescriptions, hell I hate being dependant on them myself, but they can help. Make sure you are telling you doctors how these drugs are affecting you. This way they can change the script or rise or lower the dosages. You will also have to work on changing the way you think. Understanding the things that set you off is key to this as I have found out. This way when the feelings come back you have the tools to stop the unhealthy thoughts. This is not easy and takes a lot of practice. You must be vigilant in your own mind.
I was fortunate enough that I had the Veterans Administration to help me understand and train me how to change some of my thought processes. It was through a class called Cognitive Behavioral and Social Skills Training (CBSST for short). I know many people do not have this type of support because of insurance costs, lack of employment or any other hurdles that may stand in your way. Please know this my brothers and sisters out there that there are people who are willing to help. That many people are pushing to get healthcare for all which would include mental health. I know for me forcing myself out into the world more and more has helped me. Also, find something you are passionate about. If first thing you try doesn’t work try something else. Me I like photography, learning and helping others. This is why I have gone back to school to become a teacher and am working as an educational assistant dealing with special education students. Left me tell you this path is not for everyone. It is one of the toughest jobs I have ever held. But, to see the look in a child’s eyes when the when they finish a project or realize that you are there for them it fills my heart with joy. Even though they can drive me mad at times.
In closing if you are someone who has or is considering suicide please get some help. Below I have a list of websites and phone numbers to call. Please remember if know one else tells you this that you are loved and, we are all brothers and sisters and we should care about each other in this manner. Life is worth living and we all matter.
https://afsp.org Toll-Free: 1-888-333-AFSP (2377)
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml 1-800-273-TALK (8255)