In the wake of the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, there has been a lot said on social media. In fact, I had to chuckle to myself when I saw this recent text exchange:
Person A: “Depression is a real thing”
Person B: “It doesn’t discriminate”
Sounds fair? It’s not. I know for a fact that Person A has no idea what depression really is. In fact, I believe that this person is representative of much of society. I know because Person A has openly declared numerous times in my presence, “I don’t get it?” “Why can’t a depressed individual look around them and see a beautiful day?” “Why are they such a sad sack?” Yet here we go, pretending they know and understand. Lip service, pure hypocrisy if you ask me. In fact, I’m seeing a lot of this on Facebook as well. People who just DO NOT know and are shooting off opinions left right and centre.
What is depression? According to the Mayo Clinic, “depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest”. It is a terrible illness that plagues millions around the world. While it is reported that Kate Spade was getting medical help, it doesn’t mean that it always works. A few summers ago, my neighbour’s 20 something year old son, was getting help and was taking prescribed medication yet – he still hung himself in their basement one sunny June day after an appointment with his psychiatrist. At this point you’re probably thinking what causes it? According to the Mayo Clinic “the exact cause is not known at this time, but it could be a variety of factors: hormones, brain chemistry, biological differences, or inherited traits”.
My depression is in remission. I am grateful for that. I also know that many of you are probably shocked to read that I suffer from depression and anxiety. Well, that is another story for another day. But do I feel qualified to speak on it? You bet I do.
First, I am sick and tired of hearing and reading about people saying that these two people were rich and had it all. Do you think for a single second that they did not know that they were rich and famous? That they had it all? You are damn right they did. They were definitely well aware they “had it all”. IT IS NOT ABOUT THAT! Or, secondly, the most frequent one I am seeing everywhere, “What a selfish think to have done! What about their kids?” RIGHT!!! BECAUSE THAT WAS THEIR PLAN TO LEAVE THEIR CHILDREN BEHIND.
Understand this, the need to stop the pain, the sadness, the disappointment and the darkness they were trapped in was paramount. The need to stop being a burden to family members might have weighed heavily on their minds. To just make it all go away, to make the hurt stop…might have been all they wanted.
Sometimes all the medication, and cognitive therapy in the world does not and cannot help. The spiral of sadness, or the big black dog of depression holds a person hostage. This is not their fault, just because you can’t see depression, or if someone is seemingly sporting a happy smile on the outside, doesn’t mean that there may be a ton of sadness deep down. If you are not a doctor, or someone who has experienced depression – please stop judging! You are not qualified to pass judgement! Furthermore, don’t pretend to understand! Make the effort to actually learn about it. You may just save someone’s life
I feel the need to post some of the symptoms for everyone. Please read through them carefully:
• Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
• Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
• Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
• Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
• Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take great effort
• Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
• Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
• Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
• Feelings of worthlessness or guilt fixating on past failures and self blame
• Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
• Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
• Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
What can you do? If you think a friend, relative or co-worker may be depressed? Be the person who cares. Ask them if they are ok, offer to talk, be a friend. Be available.
If you are feeling very low, darkness is closing in and you can’t find yourself, please call someone. Dial 911 or go to the nearest hospital.
Don’t be ashamed, or embarrassed. Not everyone can see the sunny day and that’s okay.
There is help on the horizon.
Phone toll-free 1-833-456-4566
Kids Help Phone Ages 20 and younger in Canada 1-800-668-6868
First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness 24/7 Help Line 1-855-242-3310
Canadian and Residential School Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419
Trans Lifeline- All Ages 1-877-330-6366