How To Help Someone Who Is Depressed
Depression can be worse at certain times of the year, especially around anniversaries and milestones.
This is is how it affects one person.
But March isn't really far behind, in my book.
Both months have been difficult for me for the past nine years. They're the anniversaries of my last nervous breakdown, which for the most part I have put behind me, except when the anniversary comes about.
Nine years ago, my life unraveled.
I was in New York, alone, dealing with a dubious relationship. My dad was dying, I'd just lost my job, mom was refusing to let me come down to Florida, I'd lost my disability and my apartment was a disaster. On April 23, 2004 I wound up going into the hospital, on the fifth floor locked ward (the irony of that being that there was a movie of the same name made in the '70s).
Amazingly, I can laugh about that now.
On April 27th, 2004, my dad passed. I wasn't allowed out of the hospital for the funeral. Nine years later, around this time every year, the guilt comes back full force. Even though I know he understood. Even though I went to his memorial service a few months later, when we buried his ashes.
I never really got to say goodbye, and I needed to. I suppose I'll always feel badly about that until I get to see him again and apologize in person. If I'll even get that chance, which is doubtful with the type of faith crisis I'm having now.
I've been told God doesn't give up on anyone. More credit to Him then. I feel like I'm a lost cause and I'm just waiting for Him to realize the same thing.
Bottom line, living with major depression is a bitch. I hate talking about it, I hate feeling like this, I hate everything about my life right now. The only thing that's changed in the past nine years is that I may just have better tools to deal with it. I use my sarcasm to make fun of myself. I don't lash out and alienate people as much as used to. I basically retreat from everyone, rather than cling on to people as much as I used to (for the most part anyway).
I channel the bulk of my crap feelings into writing, or going for a walk, or singing at the top of my lungs, managing to distract myself from the garbage for a while. I remind myself that I have the most awesome social media (and real) friends ever, most of whom I don't deserve, and two that I will never understand why they stick around, but they do.
And all this is good, I understand that. But the thing is, that I'm alone most of the time. I've been trying to remedy that for the past six months, and everything I've tried has fallen through. For the next six weeks, I don't know if I have the energy to try to do anything at all.
The other thing is that my year is rapidly developing into a series of doctor and dentist appointments, trying to get my sugar stabilized, trying to get my teeth fixed, trying to get my eczema under control. Most of the time I want to stay in bed. I'm longing for warmer weather, because then I'll be out more, walking, and feeling better. I know once my teeth are fixed, and I get on the right dosage of diabetes medication, and everything else, I'll continue to feel better.
But there are times, especially during these next six weeks when I just want to find someone - anyone - lay my head their shoulder, and cry until I can't anymore while they hug me as tightly as they can. I know this will pass.
It's the waiting that kills me.
Thanks for listening.
1 in 12 teens attempt suicide every year in the United States.
This is her story.
I was sixteen years old and I wanted to die.
Not because the emotionally abusive jerk I had been dating dumped me for the third time, not because my mother had started taking more of her prescription pain medication than recommended, and not because I was failing geometry. I wanted to die because I already felt dead inside, so why not go for a matching set?
Then I met him.
He was three years older than me, and at the time that made him seem like the most mature of adults. He wasn't, of course, but when you're smacked by love at first sight you think up all sorts of nonsense.
For a while, life seemed better. I could forget the slurred speech at home, the disappointed voice of my band director, even the gnawing little voice that said it would be so nice to just cut yourself a little bit more because no one would notice. All my focus was on this great guy who loved me, no matter what.
Then the dark thoughts came back.
It didn't matter that I was in love, or that The Dad had finally stopped cleaning his guns whenever my guy came over, or even that I was finally passing all my classes and had my music down pat. The dark thoughts come back, and being happy only makes them worse. Because if it's so dark when you're happy, how much darker is it going to be when you aren't?
I had a bottle of pills - I can't remember if they were mine or hers - and I was holding them in my hand when he called. He said he was just thinking about me and wanted to talk. It hit me then that if I gave in to the dark thoughts, I would never see him again.
You know how they tell teenagers that suicide isn't like the movies? That you're not around to see how much everyone misses you? I couldn't have cared less about any of that, but the thought that I'd never hear his voice again shook me.
I broke down and told him what I was planning.
He told me he was coming over, not to do anything until he got there. I told him I would try, but I didn't know if I could be strong enough.
Then I hung up.
We lived in a semi-shady part of town that had a police station and an EMS station just around the block so when he called 911, they didn't have far to drive at all. The police arrived with an ambulance hot on their heels, knocking on my door in that authoritative way you see on television, ready to break it down if I didn't answer.
The police asked if I was all right, if I had taken any pills. I told them the truth; I had flushed them down the toilet as soon as I got off the phone with my boyfriend. Just as they were telling the ambulance that they weren't needed, said boyfriend came tearing around the corner in his truck.
Things moved very quickly after that. The police took my name and statement, gave me a lecture about dating a nineteen year old (apparently saving my life wasn't a good enough recommendation for them), and left me with my boyfriend. He didn't yell at me or tell me off, he just held me and apologized for calling 911, but he was afraid he would lose me. I told him I wasn't angry and that I would always be grateful for what he'd done.
I still am.
I married that guy six months ago. We haven't had the easiest life together but we're still just as in love as we were the day we sat on the sofa together and he told me that no matter how bad things get, he'll always be there for me.
I still believe him.
He hasn't let me down.
I feel like every time I post, it's more of the same.
That's all happening right now. I'm taking a break from therapy. Well, it's been five months since I went to therapy and I'm not back yet so who knows?
I quit school. I couldn't handle it anymore. It's a little easier when I'm working, the variety of life is better than sitting in a classroom with unmedicated Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
I have three jobs. It's enough to pay my bills (plus some) but I can't stop because if I stop I'll sink. I run and run and run. I volunteer and go to church and work 50+ hours a week. I'm surviving like this. I can't imagine slowing down. I can't imagine doing one thing all the time.
I'm on the board of directors for a non-profit organization. They don't know what's going on and neither do any of my bosses. My parents think the storm has passed. My friends think I'm doing fairly well, but I'm not so sure. How does someone even judge that? Sometimes I have trouble getting groceries or doing my laundry. Normal people don't have those problems.
What does that make me?
Nearly 10% of the US population suffers from major depressive disorder.
This is her story:
I didn't mean for everything to turn out this way.
A mere five months ago, I truly believed that I had beaten the worst of my depression. Was I cured? Obviously not. Frequent self-harm and chronic suicidal ideation aren't exactly the hallmarks of a healthy mind. At best, I was managing. Sleepless, self-loathing, and occasionally supine with sadness, but I had to be better, right?
Fast-forward to the present day, and I find myself in the same situation I was a year ago... and the year before that.
Hopeless, estranged from my friends and family, and desperately trying to find a reason to hold on. In truth, giving up would be the easiest thing. It would be too easy to stop trying to succeed in my classes, to push everyone away so that I could fade away for the last time.
And I want to.
In fact, I was planning to.
I had it all worked out. I figured a stomach full of alcohol and pills would do the trick. All I had left was to fulfill some last minute obligations, and then maybe I could finally get the deep sleep I've desired so long. Today was supposed to be my last day.
But something - someone - stopped me dead in my tracks.
It's amazing, really, how perfectly convenient it all is. How lucky is it, fortunate some may say, that the week I plan my suicide someone makes me question things?
This wasn't what I'd anticipated. I was prepared for it to be easy, or at least as easy as something like this can be. After hanging on for so long purely for the sake of others, I'd come to terms with the fact that hurting the few people remaining in my life was unavoidable. I was ready to finally let go - for me.
That is, until someone reminded me why I've fought this for so long, even in the darkest of times. Through all the empty days and terrifying nights; all the tears, pain, and scars. As much as I want to die, as much as I want to give up, I can't justify the guilt and pain of the people I'd be leaving behind. I have a family to fight for, and friends that love and care about me.
I can't lose sight of that.
I don't want to think of what would have happened today if his words hadn't snapped that back into perspective.
By no means has this changed everything. In fact, I suspect that this so-called placebo effect is only temporary and may or may not have simply postponed the inevitable.
I'm still struggling to get through every single day, fighting not to end my life. If anything, this encounter merely happened at the right time and moment, but it just may have given me the strength to make it through the holidays.
And hopefully whatever comes after.
Do you have any advice for this Band Member, The Band?
If you are feeling desperate, alone or helpless, or know someone who is, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)to talk to a counselor at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. For more information on where to get help, see the Band Back Together Suicide Resource Page.
I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed when I stumbled across this post from a long-time friend. Like back-from-Junior-High-type of long-time friend. The post started off with the simple line "Want to kill yourself?"
So of course I stopped and took the time to read the whole thing. Start to finish. It left a very sour taste in my mouth.
It was rather long, but it walked you through the act, then how the family reacts, how the friends and the school react. That your siblings end up drug addicts; the parents become workaholics and/or depressed, ultimately ending their marriage; the best friend tries to commit suicide; it goes on and on.
All because of what the one person did.
It might all be true. But if someone is contemplating suicide, it could be because they already think that all the sorrows of the world are their fault. They are already burdened with so much that they can't bear it any longer. That their only escape is death. And now you're going to pile this guilt on them, too? They already have too much to carry. That's the problem.
This post bothered me because it made it seem like all you have to do is talk to someone and everything will be okay. And that's not how it works. It isn't just a switch that can be flipped, that you find someone trustworthy enough to spill everything to and then everything is right in the world. It just doesn't happen that way.
And I would know.
I was having thoughts of self-harm for months. I was planning it all out in my head, even going so far as to make sure it didn't blow back on my family and make life harder on them. It was going to be a car accident. Lose control, hit a tree, flip over - don't forget the high speed and the airbag I would have disengaged. I wasn't even sure I could do that, but it was part of the plan and I knew I could research. And every night, on the way home from work, I got a little closer to going through with it. There was this one curve with a patch of trees...
One night I came home to find my husband hadn't done the dishes after dinner. That's when I snapped. (That makes it sound like I went into a rage, but I didn't.) I stood at the sink and started the dishes. Before I could really figure out what was going on, I was sitting on the floor dripping and crying and carrying on. My husband came and picked me up and took me over to the couch. He held me. Asked me what was wrong. And when I wouldn't say anything, he flat told me he wasn't letting go until I did.
LONGEST. NIGHT. OF. MY. LIFE.
But it's the one that saved me.
Please don't think that it was all roses after that; if anything it got harder. I had to start owning up to everything I was thinking, going through and how it made me feel. Not everyone understood, because they couldn't all know what was going on inside my head. But my husband, the amazing man that he is, held my hand and walked me through it every step of the way. He took me to the doctor and the three of us had a very long discussion. My medications were changed, I made adjustments at work, changed how I did things at home. It was a long road. A very long road.
My point is that you can't wait for someone who is depressed to come to you to spill it all. Sometimes, most of the time, you have to reach out to them. Show them you love them. Don't just say the words. Don't just tell them you're there for them; that probably won't be enough, because they'll think that it's too much to burden you with. So hug them, hold them tight, and make them realize that it isn't. Make them talk to you. And if they won't the first time, you try again. You know when there is something wrong with someone close to you. Don't let them fool you into thinking everything is okay.
Believe me, I gave off lots of warning signs. But I had people walk away from me, tell me it's all in my head, that I was making it up, that I just needed to shake it off, move past it, get control, don't let it get me down, to quit my bitching and get to work.
It was my husband that showed me he loved me. It was my husband that wouldn't allow me to keep it in any longer, who gave me a safe time and place to unleash what I was feeling. To admit to what I was thinking, what was going through my head.
I'm still here because someone reached out to me, not because I reached out to someone else.
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