This last Saturday morning I was going through my computer cleaning up files.
What started with cleaning up unneeded music and videos led to me finding stuff that I had written up during what had been the darkest period of my life.
As I read it I felt like I was looking at someone else. I recognized them as things I had written but I couldn’t identify with the person who wrote them, or the sentiments behind them. My intention when I wrote them was either going to be something for me to look back at and see how far I had come, or it was going to be something that would explain to others where my head had been. Because depression is something that neither the person going through it or the people around them truly understand.
Yesterday the amazing Robin Williams took his life. An amazing man who made the world laugh lost his battle with depression. Today we wake up with the world being a little less funny, trying to make sense out of why someone so rich, famous and funny could be so depressed. With that in mind, and in the hopes of saving other lives I thought it was important to finally come forward with my story & my struggle.
Because as I went through those files some of them included suicidal plans and a portion of what would have been a suicide note.
To some of my family and friends this may come as a shock, but I share this because I want to help those who are battling depression and those around them that may not understand it.
I share it because I am a living example of someone who fought the hard fight and won. I want those who are dealing with it to know that there is an end to the darkness. There is a way to get out of that hole, to get out of the spiral of bad thoughts and feelings.
You too can get to the point where you’ll look back at what happened and see the victory you had, and feel as amazing as I did recognizing how far I’d come and then like me deleting those notes and plans because they’ll be something you will NEVER NEED.
I share it because it because it’s time we started talking about depression. From accepting that it’s a very real condition to helping those around us who suffer from it.
For those that are suffering from it….
My first recommendation is to GET HELP. There are so many amazing therapists out there to talk to who can help you work through all the feelings in your head, especially the ones you don’t understand. If you don’t like your first therapist, get a different one. Keep switching until you find one that gets you and you feel like you can open up to them. Once I found my therapist I saw him for a number of years. Even once I had battled the depression I still talked to him. It was great to have someone like that to get out everything with.
Find and take medication that works for you. YOU ARE NOT WEAK for taking medication. If anything it takes a ton of strength to accept that your body needs help. It’s no different than when you have a cold. Your body is not working right, and that’s OK. I found some great medication and it helped calm the thoughts and kept me thinking straight. It may be something you have to take for a short period of time. It may be something you have to take for a long time. There’s some amazing medication that can help you. Be open and honest with your doctor/therapist/psychologist about how it’s working/not working for you. Whatever you do, DON’T STOP IT COLD TURKEY! If you feel like you’re ready to phase it out work with your doctor/therapist/psychologist on how to do that.
TALK OUT YOUR FEELINGS. Talk to your family, talk to friends, talk to your therapist, talk to a Church leader, talk to a support group. Let them know you need help making sense out of things. That you need to get it out of your head. Only by talking out the thoughts in your head can you work things out and start making sense out of non-sense. Being honest and getting it all out was amazing for me. It’s only then where you see how you’re brain isn’t making sense.
DON’T LISTEN TO THE LIES YOUR BRAIN TELLS YOU. You may get to that incredibly low, low, low, low point. The point where you feel like your existence doesn’t matter and that the world would be a better place without you. If you do, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline IMMEDIATELY at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you don’t want to talk to them, talk to a trusted family member, friend, Church leader or support group leader. Talk to someone, please. It saved my life. It can save yours too.
KNOW THAT YOU ARE LOVED AND YOU ARE WANTED. To those reading this that I don’t know and are going through the pain of depression. I love you. I care about you. You matter to me. You matter to this planet. You were put on this earth for a reason. You may not understand why until much later on, but YOU MATTER and this world WOULD NOT be a better place without you. YOU CAN MAKE IT THROUGH THIS!
For those that have loved ones that are suffering through depression…
BE THERE FOR THEM. Be there with a non-judgmental mind and just listen.
Understand that as much as what they may say may not make sense to you, it makes even less sense to them. Gently help them through their feelings. Don’t deny them or shoot them down. Accept them and help them figure out a productive way of dealing with them.
Understand that telling someone to “just cheer up”, “life isn’t that bad” or anything else to that effect doesn’t help in any way, shape or form. Those suffering with depression can’t just think happy thoughts and be okay for the day. You’ve got to love on them. Support them. Let them know that you love them for everything they are and are not.
Accept that depression is an illness, not a choice of living. Mental illness is another one of the things that affect the human body. You will have a hard time wrapping your head around it. There’s no logic to it. There’s no reason to it. There’s no sense in it. And that’s just it….when you’re affected by mental illness it doesn’t (and likely will ever) make sense.
ENCOURAGE AND SUPPORT others to get qualified medical help. You may have to push them to go to a therapist. You may have to push them to take medications. Do it lovingly and without authority. Tell them you care about them and it would mean a lot to you for them to do it. Tell them how important they are in your life and how much you want to help them.
If you notice them getting to a point where they’re really suffering, and they can no longer help themselves, GET HELP FOR THEM. Look up local resources. Reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline – http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. Know that your help could mean the difference between life and death.
HANG IN THERE. Supporting and loving someone suffering from depression is incredibly hard. You are doing amazing work and despite the appearances that it might not be working. IT IS WORKING & IT DOES MATTER.
For those who aren’t going through it or know someone going through it…
You can actually help battle depression by SMILING AT PEOPLE MORE & BEING MORE FRIENDLY. Be aware of those around you and how they may be feeling.
Every person you meet or encounter in your day may be going through some struggle in their life.
It may be depression. It may be alcoholism. It may be drug addiction. It may be a divorce. It may be that they’re having the day from hell.
Sometimes that smile, or telling someone to have a great day can make all the difference in the world because someone recognized them as a human being and made them feel important if even just for 10 seconds.
We’re all in this life together and only by working together and supporting each other can WE ALL make it through.
Together we can fight depression. Together we can make a difference.