Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Some Average Thoughts on Depression

With the passing of Robin Williams yesterday from apparent suicide, people are collectively grieving the loss of such a talented individual who has made most of us laugh and cry either from his comedy or his poignant dramatic acting. Social network sights have exploded with condolences, memories and some beautiful tributes. I'm not going to do that as others have done it far more eloquently that I could. 
Instead I'm writing about what can be learned from this.

Mental illness is as real as it gets, and I address this to anyone who deals with depression or anyone who knows someone who does.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of taboo around any form of mental illness, particularly depression. People use the term; "I'm depressed" for everything from they are ready to end their own life, to... Their favourite team lost the Superbowl. The fact of the matter is, that depression is not a case of the blues, or just having a bad day, it's diagnosed and a genuine condition that can't be cured by some good news or a plate of cookies.

If you suffer from depression, there are things you need to be aware of:

1- We all have that voice in our head that stops us from doing or saying stupid stuff....If we're about to jump out of a plane that voice will tell us that it might be a good idea to put on the parachute first.
However, when we are depressed, that voice is not our friend.. In fact it is a huge LIAR!!!!  It will tell us things like.. "We won't be missed", or "Everyone will be better off"... It will try and convince you that there is no hope.. That this is all that will ever be. It will tell us these and many other things, none of which are helpful in the least.....So as hard as it may seem, we need to ignore that voice.

2- Sometimes it's ok to hide, but eventually we need to come out for air. When you do,... TALK TO PEOPLE!!! Tell them where you're at.  I'll be honest, some will think you're looking for attention, others may even avoid you and most will be uncomfortable... Guess What? It doesn't matter. You're not telling them for them, you're telling them because you need to NOT keep this a secret.
Choose the people in your life that see you at your best, even when you're not.. This isn't the time to try to bond with people who treat you like crap all the time.
People get uncomfortable, not because they don't care, but because they don't know how to help.

3-WRITE.... Start some journals... Now the natural inclination is to write all the stuff you see as wrong with your life. That isn't really going to help. Part of depression is the need to fixate on the negative... Consider, if it helps, that depression is like a life form, and it will try and make you do all those things that will feed it. So when you write... Don't feed it, write about the positives in your life. Have a gratitude journal and every night before you go to bed, write 5 things about your day that you are grateful for.. Dig deep if you have to... You could say negatively that everyone ignored you while you hid in your room for example.. Or you could be grateful that they let you rest.... FIND THE POSITIVE.. And yes, it may be tough... But then again, so are YOU!{Even if you don't feel that way this very second}

4-If you get to that point, where you can not see a reason to go on.... and you're making a plan to stop that process... RUN, don't walk, to the hospital and get professional help.

Sometimes when I hear people say that no one would miss them(Which is utter BS that the voice inside is feeding them).. I tell them a story of a Man I met when I worked at a homeless shelter... Just because a person is homeless, it doesn't make them any less valuable than any one else.... But sadly in many ways it does make them invisible. The man in my story is one of these invisible people. He would come in at night when I worked the night shift. I'd give him a drink and a sandwich and we'd talk. Actually he did most of the talking and I sat there glued to every word. He spoke with the flair of a Shakespearean Actor and was very well educated. I don't know what events in his life led him to where he was, he never spoke of it, but I enjoyed our visits.
One winters night, I came into work and learned that they had found him in the snow behind an old building that morning. He died alone, outside in the cold and the world just went on... I remember reading the paper the next day, and there was no report on his death, I watched the news and the same.. Nothing... But when the afternoon staff left and there was just us night crew there, I excused myself, found a dark quiet room, and cried like I'd lost a family member. There were 3 of us working that night and as the night wore on someone else would slip away and come back after with the same tell tale runny nose and red eyes.. We all commented on how bad allergies were this year(to explain the red eyes)....  
He was invisable to the world, but his loss did not go unnoticed, and we were not better off. 
Look around you, see the people in your life and do not listen to the voice that says they don't or won't care.... Because they do and they need you to be there.

I know what I know, because I have walked that road, I have been there and I can honestly say that if it wasn't for the people in my life then that cared about me, i would not be writing this today. 
I believed all that the voice told me and I hated myself. I believed my children would be better off.... I believed there was no hope... I believed that I was a failure and had no right to be here. And yet, here I am.. Sure I have bad days like every one else, but I like myself... No, I Love myself. More than that, I have joy in my life....  
So Please, don't listen to the "voice".... But just for now, listen to me... Yes, I have been there and I can promise you that it does get better, that there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel.

And finally.... The Suicide Prevention Hotline for London Ontario is (519)933-2023 or Toll Free at 1-866-933-2023

Sometimes the gift that is more valuable to our loved ones, but they may never understand enough to even appreciate, More valuable then all the Christmas or Birthday presents we have ever given ... Is to just go on, one more day. They are worth it, and so are you.

Peace Kiddies 



  1. How thoughtful of you to share your experiences. I could tell from the start that you had a personal insight to the feelings of someone who is depressed. I am fortunate not to have experienced depression for myself, though I have been fed-up plenty of times, and your explanation of the 'lying voice' makes it so much easier to understand. I love your wise words and if they touch just one person, then it will be a job well done!! : )

  2. A very heartfelt, eloquent and timely post, "Joe" - thanks for speaking up on behalf of the many of us who have been "there" and heard the "lying voice".