I have suffered from depression for many years. For the longest time I was scared to even admit to it - indeed I sometimes still find it hard to talk about in person.
One of the most difficult aspects of depression is the feeling of isolation and the false belief (that can often occur) where you start to believe that you are the only that is suffering from this affliction.
This is at least in part due to the ongoing societal stigma about depression and mental health problems.
Things are improving but there is still a long way to go.
The stigma combined with the skewed (negative) thinking that occurs during depression results in many people suffering in silence until they can't take it any more.
The recent suspected suicide of Chris Cornell (from Soundgarden) has illustrated how depression and it's most severe outcome (suicide) can strike even the rich and famous.
Success does not shield people from these problems.
Suicide is not the answer though
When you reach the breaking point of despair it can seem the only way to escape is taking drastic action.
In many cases suicide seems like the easiest option. Your mind is clouded to the point where you can't see any other way out.
Often people who have reach this point have been “keeping up appearances” to hide the true situation from everyone around them.
They are unable to comprehend any other resolution. It seems to be the only fix.
The thing is that it may appear that it will fix things for you but it leaves utter devastation in your wake.
Your family and your friends will never be the same again. They will be racked by guilt and regrets.
Some will likely go to an early grave as a result of the strain.
"What if?" can destroy a person's life if they blame themselves for the death of a loved one.
Don't suffer in silence
If you are suffering from depression or are suicidal, don't suffer in silence.
The first step is to speak to someone.
Unfortunately due to the way that depression warps your thinking this will seem like the hardest thing to do.
There is often shame and guilt that makes it hard to broach the subject with people that you know and are closest to you.
One way around this is to talk to a neutral person. There are many services that offer this kind of support.
For example in the UK (and US) there are the Samaritans.
They offer telephone and in-person support. They can also help to clarify your situation and get you further help/more in depth support.
During the depths of depression it can be very hard to think clearly and another person who can look objectively at your situation can be invaluable in clearing through this fog.
I know because I have been there.
If you are in that dark situation use Google to see what services are available in your area (just try googling depression support).
Another alternative is to call up your local GP (General Practitioner) surgery/health centre as they can signpost you to the service that you need.
There are often specifically tailored services for different situations - e.g. for bereavement, drug problems etc.
If you are a spiritual person then your Church or religious centre will also likely have some support services which may be more suited to you.
-Just pick up the phone and ask.
It may seem like a really difficult thing to do, but just taking that one little action can set you on the path towards making things better.
No matter how bad it seems now it will get better
One of the disorders of thought that occurs during depression is a particular brand of nihilism and fatalism that says that things will never get better.
This is an illusion though. It is not rational, it is not logical and it is not based on any evidence.
Almost all cases of depression will improve given enough time. It is just a case of getting through the dark periods.
Some of those periods will be very dark.
For example, there were times when I would spend all my waking hours figuring out how I could end my life in a way that would not cause any harm to others. -It occupied my thoughts completely.
There is no way to do that though. Suicide will always cause harm to others. The path of least harm for everyone is to seek help.
Once you do and you start to feel better you will wonder why you didn't do it earlier.
It is not easy and you won't suddenly feel back to normal - not right away.
It will be gradual and it will take time but that feeling of knowing there is a positive way out makes a world of difference.
I am not speculating here.
I have been there myself multiple times with my own depression (and also with my patients).
Things will get better.
I know this is a difficult subject to talk about and I don't want to make this too long.
To summarise, the fundamental points are:
- Suicide does not solve problems it only creates worse problems for those you care about.
- Depression does get better no matter how bad things may seem.
- There is easy to access (non-judgmental) help out there. Just ask for it.
Also before I go just wanted to say that I will be around to answer questions tonight but will be away at a wedding tomorrow.
If I don't get back to you right away just be patient and I will respond.
Thank you for reading