Thursday, May 21, 2015

Understanding Depression

I remember being a kid going on vacation with my dad, and crossing the bridges in New York City. Going over the bridges, I was never scared, just curious. Not curious about the length, structure, or the potential of it collapsing into the water. I was curious about why so many people jumped off bridges.

“How could somebody be so unhappy that they want to end their own life?” I asked my dad.

He told me something along the lines of circumstance. So many things have had to have gone wrong in their life that it snowballed into something that was much larger than them. They felt trapped, and desired a quick solution.

I still didn’t understand, but I sympathized. I wasn’t sure why I sympathized with a situation in which I knew nothing about, but I believed that everybody should enjoy their life.

The last time I remember being truly happy, I was eight years old. At eight years old, I didn’t have a phone, I didn’t text, and my parents were still together. At eight years old, my biggest concerns in the world was who was going to take me to basketball practice, and how could I get my mom to let me stay up past 9:30?

I think it’s important for people to remember that depression does not always mean that the sufferer has a bad life, or that they are always sad. For me, I don’t know what external factors causes my depression to rebound like a boomerang, thrashing through my life, whenever I begin to feel the slightest bit settled. It is not something you choose. No human being, regardless of life circumstance would choose mental illness.

It is less about placing blame, and more about finding a solution. We all get to points in our lives that we go through some rough patches. A mental illness is much like any other illness in the sense that it needs to be treated. Why is it that it is so easy to get antibiotics when you have a sore throat, but when someone says they’re feeling blue, so many people try to avoid talking about it? By addressing what may appear ‘uncomfortable,’ we will get comfortable. Life is tough, and it is a lot more bearable when we help each other through it through understanding and compassion. Untreated, depression can be life-threatening.  The world will be a lot brighter for many people when we stop avoiding things we know nothing about. Take the time to learn something new and try to understand somebody else’s circumstance, you’ll become all the better for it.

I am extremely fortunate to have a strong support system in my family and close friends. I am fortunate that when they see me start to slip, they work as a team to pull me out of the darkness.

For me, I have happy moments. I feel as if living with depression means, your equilibrium is set at numb. You are still capable of feeling joy, but it comes in small doses. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the sadness comes in much heavier packages. This packages is dropped on top of the sufferer, leaving them lying on the floor, flat as a pancake. At this, it takes mustering all of your inner strength, plus some borrowed from outside support to slowly rebuild the trust in your limbs. When you manage to do so, you stand up tall, stretch your arms out to the sky and soak up the sun, and the weight breaks you down again. The longer you suffer, the shorter it seems the span is between each cycle.

The important thing I think a person can do for a friend or loved one who has depression is be sympathetic. Never ever blame a bad day on depression. I know it can be aggravating when plans get canceled, or moods are low, but have patience. Don’t wait until you are in the same position to develop sympathy. Depression is not something that can be controlled. No one chooses depression, depression chooses you. Whether it is life circumstances gone awry, or unbalance in brain chemistry, depression is anything but a choice.

Be a friend when you see someone needs them. Listen more. Ask what you can do. Sometimes, all someone suffering with depression needs is patience, love, and understanding.

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