Those of you who read my blog regularly would not be surprised by today’s topic however if you are new here, then it might take you a little by surprise.
Not many people will openly talk about depression, however I am not many people. I am of the belief that the more depression is openly discussed the easier it will be for sufferers to heal and seek the assistance they need in overcoming this.
Yesterday I was at a meeting (I’m the minute taker) where service providers and carers meet each month to discuss issues etc. One of the carers commented that there is a lack of support for teens considering suicide and those coping with the loss of a teen through suicide. Discussion took place around this and many wonderful points were made. One of the parents suggested that there should be more open discussion and media coverage so that those who are depressed and suicidal would feel better about approaching someone or seeking help. She said that there are many problems with help lines (long waiting times) and others not manned regularly because there are not enough volunteers. (This is a whole other blog post that is best left for another time however). Another at the meeting spoke about media guidelines in regard to reporting suicides, adding that sometimes the media reporting these things allows teens to feel that it’s something that is okay to do. He used word that I can’t quite recall but he basically advocated less discussion/media coverage in order to discourage teens from considering suicide as an option to feelings of sadness and loneliness.
The discussion then turned to depression. As I listened to this conversation I felt tears welling up. I understood what it is to have the feeling of giving up and ending it all. However with the benefit of many extra years on that of a teenager, I can reason things out.
I had to say something – and I did.
In front of a room full of strangers (and some people that I knew) I told them that I suffer from depression and that most people who suffer from depression (regardless of age) consider suicide at some point and that this discussion is not age specific. It stopped the main speaker in his tracks (although he quickly recovered).
This made me think. Why should telling someone you suffer depression be a conversation killer?
Is it because of people’s perceptions of what they believe depression is?
Is it because some of the people in the room looked at me and thought “Wow. I wouldn’t have guessed it”.
I really have no idea.
However, depression is something that comes in many forms and it hits without warning at times.
I am not of the belief that depression is about not being able to let go of the past.
I don’t believe that depression is something that should be used as an excuse for bad behaviour or the committing of crimes.
I do believe that depression is an illness.
It can sometimes shake us to our core and then shake us a little more before wringing us out for good measure.
Those who suffer depression, learn coping mechanisms so that they can continue living their life. They learn what things may trigger a depressive bout and take steps to counter them.
They learn who their true friends are.
They need to learn to trust those in their families with what they are feeling.
The First Born rang me the other night and she said “I feel as if I don’t know my own mother”. I asked her what prompted this and she replied that she had read my blog on the death of Charlotte Dawson (When it all gets too much). She doesn’t normally read my blog but decided on this occasion to do so and was stunned that her own mother felt this way.
You see, those with depression want to shield those they love so they don’t burden them with what they are feeling. I should know this. It took many, many years before the GG would talk to me about his struggles. I could see them but there was nothing I could do because he kept shutting me out.
I apologised to the First Born and told her that yes, I do suffer depression however she has enough of her own difficulties in life without having to cope with dealing with my own issues. But I should have been honest with her.
I am lucky that I can talk with the GG and with my mother (who herself struggles on and off with depression). They both understand and will listen. Of course the GG (being a male) wants to fix things for me but he’s getting better at understanding when I say “I just want to vent/talk”.
Depression is a mental illness.
Depression is no respecter of persons and will strike anyone in any walk of life.
Depression is a conversation killer.
Depression comes with a stigma attached.
My dream is that one day enough people are brave enough to say “Yes, I suffer depression” and open the channels of conversation enough to reduce the stigma.
I can dream right?