We Need To Open The Discussion Surrounding Depression... Yesterday

We Need To Open The Discussion Surrounding Depression... Yesterday

We can no longer afford to treat depression as some shameful secret.
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We've made it to the year 2018. Heaps of information pertaining to mental illness is at our fingertips. All you need to do is Google the term "depression" and pages of articles outlining causes, symptoms and possible solutions will appear.

Why, then, are we so reluctant to talk about this disease?

If you've ever suffered from depression, or if you've known someone who has, you've probably noticed that the subject tends to make others uncomfortable.

If the topic does arise, it's not uncommon for people to abruptly change the subject or zone out of the conversation.

Considering our society shuns any sort of negativity nowadays, it's easy to see how avoidance can become magnified when something as serious as depression is brought into the equation.

Even when people do acknowledge depression's presence, it's done in hushed whispers. If someone seeks long-term treatment or engages in acts of self-harm, it's treated as something shameful.

It's spoken like a secret, some awful kernel of information that must be buried at all costs.

Then, we have the nerve to wonder why more people don't ask for help.

If we ignore it, it'll go away. That seems to be the thought process here, though silencing those with depression often makes things worse.

With over 300 million people battling depression worldwide, we can no longer afford to react like this. It's time to face the facts: The only way to way to solve a problem is to face it head-on.

And we can only do that by acknowledging it.

Part of the problem is that we, as a society, refuse to treat mental illness as we would a physical ailment.

Would we be secretive when telling someone we've contracted the flu? Would we make someone feel bad for having a stomach virus?

Of course not.

We proclaim physical illness without a second thought, and we're rarely judged for it. Mental illness, on the other hand, comes with stigmas. And those stigmas keep people quiet.

So how can we break the silence?

Spreading awareness is of major importance in the effort to destroy the stigma surrounding depression. But, to truly be successful, we also need to practice that awareness in our own lives.

It helps no one to nod in agreement while reading articles like this while perpetuating the stigma through our own avoidance of difficult topics. We need to start talking about our own struggles, and we need to be willing to hear about others' battles with depression.

I'm not saying that we should act as anyone's therapist. There are professionals out there for that.

What I am saying is that we need to be willing to have difficult conversations with one another.

And we need to have these discussions audibly.

The louder we are about depression, the more likely others will join in with their experiences. And the more normal it becomes to open up about these things, the more likely it is that those suffering will openly seek help.

This is the only way to beat the stigma. It starts with you.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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I Never Thought I'd Have To Attend A Classmate's Funeral Two Weeks Before He Was Supposed To Graduate

Teen suicide is a taboo topic where I'm from, even if we have lost two members of the community to it in the past two years.

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One of the hardest experiences of my life happened just this week, at the funeral of a boy I barely even knew. I had gone to school with him since kindergarten but hadn't had a class with him since fifth grade, and I don't think we had talked since then. All I had ever thought of doing with my classmates two weeks before graduation was complaining about finals and maybe going to a few graduation parties.

Instead, we all left school midday to head to the largest Baptist church in town. I sat in the middle of a row of pews, surrounded by two hundred or more people that I had either gone to school with my whole life or had gone to school with at some point in the past thirteen years.

There was not a single one of them that did not have tears in their eyes. We listened to the pastor share memories of our classmate that had been shared online, and some of us even got up to share our own and to thank his parents for raising such a kind and caring, young man.

He was the type of guy to invite you to go out to eat, even if he knew you had to work, just because he didn't want you to feel forgotten about. Every single person who spoke said, "There wasn't a single thing I didn't like about this kid." They spoke those words in full truth.

The senior class was named in the obituary as honorary pallbearers. We followed the eight football players and the rest of the football team and our classmate's closest friends to a hearse waiting outside. I watched as the hearse pulled away, and I believe that is when it truly hit everyone.

He was gone, and he wasn't coming back. As the hearse pulled away, all I could see on the other side were tears streaming down the faces of some of the toughest guys I know.

We called the football team the Thunder House. The phrase "Thunder House" went from something normally said with a smile or a chuckle to something said with a melancholy tone. No one cheered when it was said anymore, they only gave sad nods and tight, depressing smiles.

Teen suicide is a taboo topic where I'm from, even if we have lost two members of the community to it in the past two years. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an article stating that Americans in rural areas are more likely to die by suicide, also stating that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States.

The week before we lost our classmate, there was a walk at the school on a Saturday to raise awareness for teen suicide and depression. I only heard one teacher say anything about it beforehand. There were no signs around the school. There was no mention of it on the morning announcements. There was not a post on the school's website inviting members of the community to join us.

I truly believe that more could have been done that could have possibly prevented the heartache that has impacted a school, a family, and a community. Reach out to those you feel may be in need, and even those that you do not feel may be in need because you never know what someone is going through.

Articles on suicide prevention or recount stories of suicide or suicidal thoughts should end with the following message, written in regular weight font, styled in italics:

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


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