A little bit ago I posted this about when I’m manic.
The tragic passing of Robin Williams prompts me to write about depression.
Its much harder to write about depression. I haven’t because I don’t want to alarm people. I especially don’t want to hurt those that love me by talking about times I didn’t reach out for help. I’ll explain that in a bit.
I’m all too familiar with the black hell of Depression, as well as Suicidal Impulses. I’ve stood on the brink more than once.
In the aftermath of Robin’s death I’ve seen many talking about “asking for help”. Many people say that they’ve been there, and they sought help. Good for them.
Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that, in addition to depressing mood, impedes one’s ability to reason, and robs them of perspective.
“I’m alone” quickly becomes “No One Loves Me!”
When your brain starts frantically listing all the people you can call and ask for help, a big glaring sign pops in your head, “If they say no, it will make it worse!”, or “I’m not worth their time.”
And yes, even me, who firmly believes that I’m one of the most Awesome People on the Planet has moments like that.
So….if things get this bad for me, how is it that I’m still here?
There have been three moments in my life….I won’t go into details because that’s too fucking hard to type…even now I’m tearing up thinking about them…
Here are the things that saved me:
A Canadian Fisheries research ship…..I was in Massett, BC and in the year or so I lived there I had NEVER seen anything tied up at the end of the government wharf…until that night. I mean, seriously…..WTF!!….all that time spent working up the nerve and they park a boat at the end of the pier. Stupid government…
My friend, Ireland….my very perceptive friend, who just wouldn’t shut up… “You cannot deny us, the people who love you the opportunity to help you.” (She appealed to my selflessness and turned it around on me).
My dog, Colorado. My queen of spazmania…she was being clingy. I was depressed and wanted to be left alone. After hours of sitting in the dark, in my livingroom, my mood hit bottom. I heard an alarmed bark just before being tackled. Colorado is a 60lb Husky/Shephard/Collie X. She leapt from the love seat to the couch…pushed me over and started licking my face, keeping me pinned to the couch. I couldn’t push her away, and she didn’t stop until I started laughing. When she finally let me up, I went and bought her a steak, and then called a friend.
When I adopted her, I heard “dog with problems”, “crazy”, “unadoptable”. People tell me I saved her life, so she returned the favour. I now pay close attention to her behaviour as she warns me well in advance of problems.
I have another dog now too….Kharma. Kharma is a very calm, Great Dane. She’s also very cuddly….
The point I’m making here that if someone you know suffers from depression, if you’re worried….say something, do something….buy a boat….or tackle them and lick their face until they start laughing (you too might get a steak out of the deal).
Don’t tell them to “snap out of it”, or “everyone gets sad”. Don’t minimize, or trivialize their fears. Assure them that they are not alone, and most of all….just listen.
Also…never be afraid to ask, “Are you thinking of harming yourself?”. It won’t put the idea in their head.
If they are contemplating self-harm, and won’t accept help, you have a duty (both legal, and moral) to call 911 and get them help.
Edited to add:
I once heard a police officer comment that “Depression was just an excuse for being weak.” (proof that police need more training in dealing with mental health issues).
Living with depression hurts…a lot. Suicide is about wanting to stop that pain.
Getting past that, moving on to get up each morning, and function in society takes strength.
So…don’t pity those of us who suffer from Depression…..admire our strength and understand that sometimes, we need help.