Written in 2016.
Another entertainer, beloved by so many, died. The news was released early on that it was apparently suicide. This has spawned a much needed discussion about depression. Everyone has been writing and talking about this devastating disease. So here I am weighing in on this subject that has touched my life from many different directions.
Let me start with a confession. I have faced depression throughout life. It is difficult for me to believe that any person has not been in a moment when feelings of everyone would be better off if I just disappeared. Fortunately, I never reached a point of thinking I would take my life. It was close enough that I have some comprehension of the downward spiral that happens.
I thought I had put that all behind until…
Early in 2011, I was diagnosed with cirrhosis. It was found unexpectedly when I was having some tests done. I didn’t fit the profile. None of me blood work or other tests had given any indication of a problem with my liver. I went to work and maintained for a couple of years.
Jump forward to 2013. I began the process toward a transplant. I have been in the hospital eight times in the last year not counting ER trips. February was the absolute worst. I could have very easily just giving up and drifted away while sleeping. Except for one thing. My support people. They cried with me and laughed with me. I saw a therapist just to talk to someone distanced from the situation.
More difficult than dealing with my own struggling times is watching a loved one going through a deep depression. How do I help? That feeling of helplessness. That desire to help and not hurt. Praying that they will be given what they need to come through healthier and encouraging them to seek help. It’s amazing to watch them grow and shine as they overcome to rise above the feelings of depression. It will be a constant work for them, but once they feel the difference, they will do the work.
My next experience was with people who were depressed was on the job. I worked in funeral homes. One of my jobs was to visit families after the services and everyone had gone home. I helped file paperwork and listened. They needed an ear to hear without judgement, someone not too close to them. So I listened. This is usually a short-term depression and eases with each passing day for most, although the love never goes away.
Depression affects everyone at some point in life. The difference is comes from handling it ourselves or accepting help from others. Learn how to spot depression in yourself and others. Seek help if you need it. Don’t give up.