It’s been a rough few weeks. I’ve been back and forth trying to determine whether I should write about this. But, it needs to be written about, talked about.
I want to talk about depression.
I battled depression when my first husband left our marriage three weeks after our daughter was born.
My step-father, a Vietnam Veteran, had a severe case of PTSD, exasperated by a traumatic personal event in his life that occurred around the same time. He lived with depression every day I knew him.
My mother died of cancer when she was 56. I believe depression was a major factor of the acceleration of her cancer.
When I was 16, I had just reconnected and became close with my step-sister when she took her own life at an age far too young. Her death was a shock for which I have no words.
Unfortunately, I know how awful it is when a family member takes their own life, either directly or indirectly. The pain of depression is profound and effects everyone around it.
I bring up these examples only to show you that no matter who we are, what attitude we may personally have in life, depression is all around us.
In the last month, I have learned of the premature deaths of two people. The first was the sister in law of one of my closest friends. The other, an old co-worker of mine.
It’s never easy to lose someone, whether you really knew them or not. Those that have experienced death first hand know how excruciatingly painful it can be. We have the unique ability to empathize with the friends and family left behind. We know what they are going through so we share their pain.
When my friend told me about her sister in law, I was shocked, sad, and frustrated that I can’t be there to do more to help her. Now, a young teen and her father are left without their third and my friend grieves while helping them try to function again.
When I heard about my old colleague, I was sad of course. But this time I was angry as well. Yes, angry. If he had reached out, said something of the struggles he was having, people would have helped.
The majority of people contemplating suicide don’t necessarily want to die, they just want the pain they are experiencing to end. If they are able to share the pain by talking about it with someone: a friend or relative, a counselor or doctor, seemingly small conversations can make a huge difference.
I’m angry about my old colleague’s death because there are other ways out of crap situations.
When my first husband left, I was suddenly a single mother with a 3-week old baby. I had no medical insurance since I was working in a contract position. I had a mortgage and a car payment that I had to figure out on my own. I had to find an answer. But that didn’t mean that depression didn’t take hold. There was a moment when I thought of taking my car over the rail on the 183 flyover in Austin, Texas.
After that moment, I yelled out for help! I talked about how I was feeling. Unloading that burden, just for a little while, helped to ease the enormous pressure I was feeling. I could clearly see that my daughter was the reason for keeping the days ticking by. She pulled me from that deep gully of sadness and allowed me to find a way out of the situation.
What makes me crazy is the mask we sometimes hide behind on social media. We put up the highlight reel, the best of our lives, for all of our “friends” to see. We need to do better.
So, here’s what I ask anyone who is reading this:
Take the time to ask those in your life if they are okay. Do something that will make them feel special. Do something that shows you care, that you are there for them. Be their person. If they don’t seem quite right, talk to them directly about it. Most importantly, listen.
I am now on the other side of the world from my friends and yet, I feel I am closer to them than ever. I hope I can be that person for them. I hope that if they ever need an ear, they know I am here. It may be through technology, and while we have to now deal with time zones, sometimes knowing that there is someone listening is all that matters.
I know it did for me.
Will you share the message.. encourage others to share not just their highlight reels, but their whole lives?