The “thing” that brings shame….
I have been battling with myself for days on writing this piece and while I know in my heart it may help some, nonetheless, it is difficult. A few days ago, mere feet from my home, a young person was struck by a train and succumbed to his injuries. Days later, I am at the Hospital with my child and witnessed yet another young person fleeing from her mother’s car and taking off down the street as her family was trying to get some much-needed help for her. Mom was distraught, on the ground screaming that she has not been able to reach her child who is in dire need of help. Even in mom’s distress, you could feel the shame at having to admit that her child was suffering from an illness that affects so many in the world;
There. It is out in the open and must be addressed at all costs in a way that does not stigmatize families or have the person who is suffering, feel alone and misunderstood thereby leading to other behaviours that cannot often be explained. I asked someone close to me recently, if he could explain just what being depressed feels like and his reply was this;
” It feels like and overwhelming sadness that takes over your head and leaves your body feeling heavy without energy. No matter what I try to do to combat it, the darkness remains. It gets lighter some days, but it NEVER fully goes away. I have to constantly keep myself busy so that I do not have any down time to dwell on that ‘thing’ that always wants to push to the surface and leaves me feeling so sad, I want to end my life.”
What makes depression so hard to explain to those who are not struck with it, often comes because people say ” just snap out of it.” Easier said than done. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain and we are not quite sure what causes it. It ranges from mild to full-blown manic-depressive. It usually stems from some kind of family history and because of the stigmas associated with it, many refuse to seek treatment as they do not want it popping up in a medical file that could ultimately be used against them.
As a direct result, we have so many undiagnosed people who seem to present as “anti-social” “Angry” and “mean” to name a few. It is hard to maintain friendships and they are often either always the “life” of the party or loners. While there are many drugs to combat and help alleviate the pain of depression, the side-effects are sometimes worse and many opt to not take it at all but find ways to manage the “triggers” when they come.
The sadder part of depression however, are those who are determined not to live like this will try to find ways to end their lives. If we try as a society to seek to be understanding and educate ourselves on ways to be helpful to the families in whatever way that is needed, it would go a long way. Depression is an illness that needs kindness and love to ease the burden of those afflicted. Do not pretend to understand if you don’t. Be honest but ask how can you help. I would love to hear from others who could offer insight on how those of us who are not sufferers, can help.
So the next time you see someone who seems distant or not responding to portions of their lives in ways you know to be normal for them, do not judge but rather find ways to be supportive. You may be saving a life in the process.