Thursday, November 06, 2014

PSA: And we live in a beautiful world, yeah we do, yeah we do...

There is one thing that really, really bugs me, and I'd like to get it off my chest.

The time has just changed, and days are noticeably shorter. Night falls early, and it feels intense. As we march inexorably forward into the long dark of winter, I see people start to struggle. It affects different people to different degrees, but let's be candid: lack of light does nobody any favors.

Except vampires. They do very well, as I understand it. And maybe it doesn't matter for zombies. I can't think about zombies (very high on Fear List) so I don't know much about them.

But the long dark, it is not kind to most humans among us.

So this is a good time to say the following: if you think you are depressed, odds are, you are. You know it, and I know it.

People don't, in my experience, think they're depressed unless they are.

And you should do something about it. At the very least, talk to your primary care doctor. I'm 100% certain they see lots and lots of depression. It is everywhere.

Sometimes depression is due to a particular situation. Say, for example, you get divorced or a loved one dies, and you go through a very hard period. Does this mean you need medication? Maybe, maybe not. I'm not a doctor; I just like to play one in my medicine cabinet.

Counseling can always help. Who among us is innately equipped to deal with grief and loss?  In fact, counseling can help with so many things. We all have crap from our childhoods that govern who we are as adults. It's a relief to have help sorting that out.

But I digress.

Say, on the other hand, your behavior shifts for no discernible reason. Maybe you start crying a lot. Or you become constantly angry. Maybe you're tired all the time. Maybe you feel worthless, insecure. Your friends are doing things you usually think are fun, but you just can't be bothered. Because getting dressed and going out seems too hard.

These are all symptoms of depression.

And if you are depressed, you might not even recognize it. But if you think you might be, you probably are. So do something about it.

Now, I know the DOING of things when you're depressed is so hard. Because everything is hard. Smiling is hard. Picking up the phone to make an appointment sounds exhausting. It's like you have to get up and get dressed while fighting through marshmallow fluff. The world wants you to stay in bed because it's easier.

But it's not ultimately easier. It is a much, much more difficult way to live. And it doesn't have to be this way.

Why, you may wonder, am I getting all soapboxy now?

From up on my box perch, I will tell you.

Being so open about my dad and depression and the effect of his suicide on our family, I get into lots of conversations with people about these things. And I regularly receive messages about depression.

Sometimes they are from strangers, and sometimes from people I know, to varying degrees. I get asked questions, for recommendations for therapists, for thoughts on situations, for resources.

(Once in a while, a friend will write to tell me about a suicide to ask for help understanding. Sometimes I think you just need to reach out to someone who can understand how bad you feel.)

Here is when I get frustrated, though: when someone thinks they are depressed, but then won't do anything about it.

Sometimes I give an opinion, or offer up resources, and they contend they don't feel that bad. Not bad enough to see a doctor. Or they know they don't need medication - it's not like that. Or they don't really see what a therapist might do for them. I mean, they know what their problem is, and they have friends to talk to, so why pay someone to talk about it?

Yah. So why ask me? Nobody needs to convince me of how not in need of help they are.

So to these people I say, things don't have to be so hard. You don't have to struggle. You can get help and life can be easier.

Me, I've lived through some terrible things, and I'm still working hard to heal and move forward. I'm just living life the best I can. I take a pill every day because it makes life better for me and for my family. In the scheme, it seems a small thing to do, really.

And that's all I have to say about that.

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