Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind.
I wrote a post back in September about a high school friend that had passed away. I had a feeling when I went to the wake that his death was perhaps the result of something quite personal, something perhaps that he struggled with for a long time. I wasn’t sure what it was, but the conversations were limited. I did not overhear anything about how strong he was at the “end” or how any treatments helped; so, I knew it was a physical illness. Frankly, it was one of the quietest wakes I’ve ever been to for someone so young.
Recently the Facebook page created in his memory shared a post about depression. The poster wrote the following:
“Did you know that David struggled with depression for decades? Not just the humdrums, not just a got-me-down sadness, but a clinically diagnosed depression? Here in America we talk about cancer and diabetes and Alzheimer’s but we don’t talk about depression…It is sooooo misunderstood. It is judged. Even the ones diagnosed with it don’t talk about it…they do not want to be judged, shunned or misunderstood. So they keep it to themselves and nobody knows. I didn’t know, you didn’t know. Let’s learn together.”
There are moments when a sufferer can be complete paralyzed, not able to function for the most basic daily tasks. Other times we’ll see them appear to be perfectly fine, functioning as we normally do going to work, the grocery store, taking care of our families. You typically cannot “see” when someone is depressed.
For years my husband’s struggled with clinical depression; seeking help through talk therapy and some medications. Most people who meet him see the fun, happy, personable, guy that he is; that’s of course who he is the majority of the time. I too, have had my bouts of it, though more episodic than chronic; the result of a miscarriage at one point and after surgery for cancer of the thyroid at another. For me too, the balance of talking it out with a counselor and a low dose of anti-depressant medication held the keys to my success.
The other thing that I think made a difference for me and my husband is the support we’ve had from others; and, the acknowledgement that struggles in achieving good mental health is just like seeking out care for our physical health. I’m sure that Dave had that support too, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. That’s the challenge with depression, its insidious. It is such a personal struggle that regardless of how much support a person has, they can still be overcome by the depression itself.
The Facebook post encourages readers to “learn together“. I hope that sharing this little bit of our personal story helps you in your learning.
I want to thank everyone who has supported my husband and me on our journeys to good mental health. I encourage anyone and everyone who reads this post to do the same for the people in your life.
- It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week (publicnewsservice.org)
- I met a woman today… (spokeanna.wordpress.com)
- It’s Mental Health Awareness Week – Here’s my story (ithoughtitwasjustme.wordpress.com)
- Breaking the Silence (sarahgriffithlund.com)