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Thursday, September 04, 2014

Depression Is Serious

The news of Robin Williams' death was a shocker to most all of us who would consider ourselves fans of the actor/comedian.  He was such a shining star, a happy face and amazing talent that made us all laugh at one point or another.  His serious roles in front of the camera were equally wonderful.  But then, we got the news.

Robin Williams had committed suicide.

His family and close friends knew that he had suffered from bouts of depression, that there were moments where he felt as though he just couldn't go on.  This had apparently been going on for years, perhaps even decades.  All the signs were there, the ones closest to him knew that he was depressed, so how was this allowed to happen?  Why wasn't there some type of intervention or precautionary actions taken?

These are questions that may never be answered, and that my friends, is tragic.

I too suffer from depression, receive medical care for it and coupled with my other health problems, there are really good days and there are really bad days.  I would be lying if I tried to tell you that there are days when I'm pushed to my limit and I consider ending my own life.  I have friends and family who know that there are days like this, and now the whole universe knows, but that doesn't stop the thoughts from crossing my mind.

The leap from "thinking, or considering" to actually "doing" is a long one - and one that isn't traversed easily.  This being said, here are a few thoughts on the whole subject and my advice as to what folks should do if they have a loved one suffering from depression.  Mind you, I'm not a shrink and this advice isn't worth dehydrated dog poop.  But I'm giving it anyway.

1.  Ask questions.  If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong with your loved one, you're probably right.  And if you're wrong, it's not going to hurt to simply ask a few questions about how he/she is feeling, what's going on in there lives.  Do not be afraid to ask.

2.  Stay in touch.  In our crazy world, it's easy to get caught up in our routines and put off a simple text message or social media message or even a phone call.  That one phone call could be the saving grace for that person on that day.  And I know that this is a real long shot, but if you live close by, make the trip and say hello face-to-face.  Your smile, your face your embrace can mean the world to someone who is depressed.

3.  Get help.  If you feel as though you're in over your head, that you're not sure how to deal with someone who is struggling with depression, don't think that you're somehow not a great friend to that person.  Depression is a son of a bitch and not everyone is equipped to handle it in themselves or in a dear one.  Tag-team if you have to.  Bring another friend or family member with you to visit, or ask them for their advice as to how to proceed.  Just like in number 1 above, don't be afraid to ask.

4.  Kiss conventional wisdom goodbye.  You see, guys like me aren't supposed to be depressed.  We're the ones with the good jokes, the smiles and witty retorts.  That's bullshit.  Outgoing people, extroverts suffer from depression just like everyone else.  Sometimes, it's even tougher and hits harder because of the pressure that goes along with the expectation that we're always supposed to be at the top of our game.  That too is bullshit.

Depression is a son of a bitch, and not only can it lead to attempts on one's life, but the side effects are horrific as well. It can destroy the human body, eating away at itself like a flesh-eating virus that begins in the very soul.

Here are a list of resources out there.  Share them, use them.