Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Hard Truth and The Choice To Get Out Of Depression

It is horrible that the apparent suicide of Robin Williams and the various opinions about his passing had to be what inspired me to write this post. I found myself getting pulled in to the discussions. I would never speak up with my opinion about a topic I am unfamiliar with, as I do guide from my own experiences. I must say what bothered me most about any discussion I found myself in was that these people had the audacity to say, "You obviously have never been depressed."

Who are you to judge that this is something I have never experienced? How dare you assume that just because I live a very happy life (now) that I have no idea what it is like to be pulled down in to the depths of depression? How would you know what I have experienced and felt if you never asked me? Because guess what? I HAVE been there, several times.

I have been at the lowest of lows, at the point to where I had the rope hanging over the rafters, around my neck, and ready to jump. I have been in the garage with the car running and everything closed up. I have had the blade to my wrists. I have had the plastic bag over my head. I have been there many times and for one reason or another, something always came up that stopped me. So how dare you say that I have no idea what a depressed person is going through.

Honestly, I never said a word to anyone about my intentions. I hid my depression fairly well. Very few recognized my despair and did little to cheer me up. Most did not notice the subtle cries for help because they were too consumed by their own issues. I have never spoken of this, until now.

I am not sharing this with you for any sort of pity. That is the last thing a person who is depressed needs. I am sharing this with you so that you understand what does go through a person's mind and what they really need to hear from you.

Depression sucks. It hurts. It is lonely, no matter how many people surround you. To have someone tell you, "Cheer up," and then watch them be happy in their own life makes you even more angry and depressed. But at the same time, to have someone coddle you, cry with you, and tell you, "I know you are hurting. Life sucks," does even more damage. The pity, the focus on the negativity, and the "poor baby" mentality only serves to fuel the depression and allows the person to spiral deeper into the darkness. 

Suicide is a cowardly and selfish act.  I do understand that it is the choice to give up on life and what appears to be the easiest way out for someone in that low state of mind. It takes more courage to not do it and more strength to pull yourself out of that mentality. Depression itself is a state of mind that focuses on "Me. Me. Me." Redirect the focus. Redirect the attitude.

The last discussion I was in was with a person who disagreed with my opinion. The original post was "Come here and let me smack some positive sense into you." (Note that it was posted before the news of Robin Williams hit.) You absolutely can smack (metaphorically speaking) positive sense into someone. Not everyone can handle the hard truth, so a gentler way may be necessary. But they still need to hear the truth. It was exactly the type of thing I needed to hear when I finally made the choice to take the focus off of "poor me" and redirected my focus to helping others.

This person also stated that they hoped I never had to talk someone out of depression, or worse, a suicide. Well, I have with several people, unknowingly until later when they came back to me to thank me for being there, telling them like it is, and then admitting to me what they were about to do before I recognized their cry for help. Their gratitude is what keeps me going.

Many times over, someone has come to me to complain about their life. Not all are clinically depressed, and not all are considering suicide; however, if the negativity continues to spiral downward, it is a matter of time before they reach that point. I simply listen. Any suggestions I give are for that person alone and usually is exactly opposite of what they are thinking and what others have told them. At those times, I am unaware of this, I only suggest what my instincts tell me based on my own experiences.

What is the hard truth? That you have the choice to make your life what it is. You have the choice to go out there and do something different. Your own attitude and perspective will shape your day. You do not even have to be declared clinically depressed to have a bad day or a bad week. Everyone goes through difficult trials. The choice is if you allow it to break you, or if you choose to allow it to make you stronger.

The reasons behind someone's depression are different for each person. Some will seek help, some will not. If you or someone you know is in this state of mind, please open up. Say something. If you are dealing with depression begin by helping others to find their joy, and in turn you will find yours. Direct your attention to what you appreciate, what you have, and what you enjoy doing.

If you know someone who is showing signs of depression, pay attention. Listen to them and help them find their joy. Encourage them to do something different, step out of the comfort zone, and take control of their life.

It is a choice. The only way to come out of depression is to make the choice to do so and make the effort to continue to do so. No one can make that choice for you. Medications are only a band aid, attempting to balance out any chemical imbalance. Everything begins with a conscious thought; a choice. And if you are suffering from depression, you need to know that only you can make that choice. No excuses. You CAN do it. 

I will be honest with you, it will not be easy. In fact, it will be the hardest thing you ever do. I promise you though, when you decide to climb out of your path of self destruction, choose to better yourself in every way, choose to be a service to others with love, kindness, and compassion, it will get better.

Since I made the choice to appreciate what I had, made the effort to change my perspective by looking for the positive side of things, and dedicated my life to be of some sort of service to others, I found my life to be pretty good. Every day it gets better.

Even now as I write this, looking back on my life, I am grateful that I never completed those suicide attempts. I would be missing out on the amazing life I have now; and it is all because someone hit me hard with the truth and I made the choice to change it.