I’ve been really open on this site, in talks I’ve given, and even as a guest on a couple of podcasts about the struggles that I’ve had with depression, particularly the bout I had last year. I’m grateful for all the support that I had, the help that I received, and that I’m healthy again.
Over the weekend I learned that a friend of mine from high school, who I honestly don’t think I had any contact with after graduation, had died last week. It was a gut punch to hear this, and became that much harder because it sounds like she took her own life.
Everybody has their struggles. Some are light while others can feel like a boulder crushing you. Some are short-term, but for many people they’re ongoing or recurring.
Depression is an illness. It’s not a weakness. It’s not a character flaw. It’s not an injury where your doctor might have some idea of when you’ll be better. It’s not a 24-hour-bug. It’s a more complicated, sometimes vicious, sometimes fatal illness.
And when somebody takes their life, it isn’t selfish. They aren’t a coward or evil. They’re hurting and suicide seems to them to be the only option. It’s not, but to them, it may feel that way.
Can you do anything to help your friends and family going through struggles with mental illness? Yes, of course. You can support them, you can help them find the professional help they may need, you can make sure they know that they’re loved, but only if they let you (in most cases). Unfortunately, sometimes there’s either nothing you can do or not enough that you can do. Honestly, you have to learn to be okay with that or you risk getting pulled into a very dark place yourself.
If it’s you that’s fighting with your own head, please, please try to find a way to let others help you. Let the people you trust in, and believe me I know that’s not easy and sometimes it might seem like there is nobody that you feel like you can trust. Remember, it’s an illness. If you had cancer or diabetes or had a heart attack you’d see a doctor, so try to get the care you need.
I’ll repeat what I said at the start of this post. I’m grateful for all the support that I had, the help that I received, and that I’m healthy again.
Photo courtesy of Alex Brown under a CC-BY license.