For most of us, this is a joy-filled time of year.
And, for nearly all of us, it’s also a stressful time of year.
But, for many, it’s a time of year that blackens an already dark world. People who suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, and their loved ones, often find holiday times to be particularly difficult and bleak.
I hope you’ll make a special effort to consider the health of everyone around you this time of year, and to reach out to those who might need help, including yourself.
Top 10 Big Fat Lies Depression Tells
Depression runs deep in my life. Many of the people dearest to me suffer with depression. It’s climbed through much of my family tree. It’s sunk its claws into many of my friends. It has taken the lives of many people who were dear to me.
When I drive by a particular freeway interchange I think of someone I love who told me that, while in the depths of depression, it was the spot he’d picked out to end his life. There’s a bridge I pass every week from which a neighbor ended her life. And, I’ll never forget the wails of grief I heard after informing the parents of a friend, who’d been in our wedding party, that he’d taken his own life.
Depression is many things. It’s a serious mental illness, and needs to be treated as such. It’s a chameleon, which appears in different forms and at different levels in different people. It has many different causes and, sometimes, no known cause at all.
Most of all, depression is a liar.
A big, fat liar.
Listen for these lies if you or someone you know suffers from depression:
Top 10 Big Fat Lies Depression Tells
Lie #1: This feeling will never change. – Truth #1: Yes, it will. This feeling will change. You will not feel like this forever. Everything changes. Things always change. Hold on. Don’t give up.
Lie #2: It’s my fault I feel this way. – Truth #5: Depression is an illness, just as the flu and cancer are illnesses. It’s not your fault you have depression, just as it’s not your fault if you get the flu or cancer. Just as you would seek treatment for any illness, seek treatment for your depression. Don’t give up.
Lie #3: No one cares. – Truth #6: Many people care. But, people have to know you’re suffering before they can express that caring. Talk to the people in your life. Be honest. Be direct. Don’t expect them to know what you mean or what you are feeling. Tell them plainly. Ask for the help you need. Keep talking to people until you find someone who you feel cares and wants to help you.
Lie #4: No one will listen to me. – Truth #8: Yes, they will. Keep talking. Someone will listen. Keep looking for that someone. Friend, neighbor, pastor, doctor, nurse, teacher, counselor, social worker, police officer, fire fighter, parent, coach, etc. Don’t give up.
Lie #5: Nothing can help me. – Truth #7: Research into depression is vast and ongoing. Treatment options are huge and varied. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else, or a combination of things. Effective treatment is available. Psychiatrists, psychologists, peer-counselors, support groups, medication, eating plans, exercise plans are some of the many possibilities to consider. There is effective help available for you. Keep looking. Don’t give up.
Lie #6: I don’t matter. – Truth #4: Yes you do. You do matter. You are valuable simply because you exist. You have amazing potential. Every day, every breath is a miracle, a chance to reach out and up and to do something no one but you is in the position to do. Don’t give up
Lie #7: Everyone would be better off without me. – Truth #2: No one’s life is going to get better because you kill yourself. Quite the opposite will happen. Family members, particularly your children, siblings, and parents, are much more likely to suffer from depression and to kill themselves, if you kill yourself. Close friends are similarly impacted. One of the primary reasons for this is the despair experienced when someone we are close to takes his or her own life. Hang on for them, if hanging on for yourself is not enough. Don’t give up.
Lie #8: No one will miss me. – Truth #3: The aftermath of a suicide is horrendous. There is no funeral sadder than that of a suicide victim. I’ve been to many of them. At every one, the same phrase is heard over and over: if only he/she knew how many people cared about him/her. You have no idea how important you are to some people. Don’t leave them missing you. Don’t give up.
Lie #9: They’ll lock me up if I try to get some help. – Truth #9: If you seek help, they will help you. No one is going to lock you up for seeking help. If you are a danger to yourself, more intensive help might be called for. Don’t fear that. You are suffering from an illness. Get the treatment you need to feel better. Don’t give up.
Lie#10: If I just thought more happy thoughts, my depression would go away. – Truth #10: Happy thoughts don’t cure illnesses. A positive attitude is always a good thing, but it won’t cure illnesses, not the flu, not cancer, not depression. Do try to find some happy thoughts to entertain, but most importantly seek medical treatment. Any doctor can help you get access to people who specialize in helping people who suffer from depression, people who can work with you to determine what you need to help you get well.
Don’t believe depression’s lies.
And, don’t give up!
National (US) Suicide Prevention Telephone Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
Crisis Text Line: Text 741-741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime, about ANY type of crisis.
If you think you are (or someone with you is) having a psychiatric emergency call 911 (If available in your area, or your local emergency services telephone number, if it is not), or go to the nearest emergency room.
Do you suffer from depression, or have you in the past? Who did you talk to about it? Do you know someone with depression? Shoot me a comment. I’m looking forward to hearing all about it.
This column is based on Top 10 Lies Depression Tells by Gina Valley, which first appeared on ginavalley.com on August 11, 2014
Photos courtesy of Stock.xchng – Used with permission