There have been a lot of reports in the news within the last year or so regarding Depression and people from young children to successful people in the prime of their lives committing suicide. A recent CDC report states that the rate of suicide has risen nearly 30 percent since 1999 (link to CBS news clip) and this report comes in the wake of the two most recent high-profile suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. These two people in particular were people who everyone around them, thought was happy and who, on the surface, appeared to have it all.
They wore the required smiles and they exuded joy and gratefulness for all that life had afforded them. Yet still, they felt that whatever pain they were feeling deep down inside was just too much to bear and perhaps they even thought the world would somehow be better off without them. Now people who knew and loved them are left behind to try and make sense of it all. They’re trying to figure out how they missed the signs and why they didn’t see how much pain they were in or the perpetual dark cloud that was looming over them.
The truth is that if people are suffering through depression and they don’t want you to know it then you won’t know it. Not until they are ready for someone to pull them out of it. They strategize and practice ways to hide their sadness and when they can’t hide it they simply hide themselves. I’ve talked on here before about my many bouts with depression and the thing is only the people who are closest to me, as close as family, ever knew that even the tiniest thing was wrong with me and that was only if I had decided that I wanted to open that window just a sliver. The darkness that I felt was just so dark and the sadness was so deep that I just didn’t see a way out. At least that is how it feels when I am in that state.
I have this running joke with people when I am in the midst of a state of depression. When they would tell me that I was always happy and smiling I would respond by telling them “then that means the act is working” and they would take it as a joke but I was never really joking. Over the years I had developed defense mechanisms that kept people at a distance and fell back on my solitude as a writer to explain the isolation. Since I’ve started going back to church a couple of years ago I haven’t really found myself in that deep state of depression anymore. I still have my days where some sadness creeps in but I’ve gotten better at not allowing it to linger too long. Therapy is good but I like the added sense of joy and peace that being in the house of God has brought me and it truly gives me strength that I didn’t realize I had before.
I am so thankful that I haven’t felt that deep darkness in a long while but the thing about having a mental illness like Depression is that you’re never really cured from it. At any given time that wave of sadness can hit you like a ton of bricks and it could happen literally out of nowhere. My hope is that people with depression find a way to talk about it before it gets to the point where they feel so overwhelmed by it that they just can’t speak about it. Don’t treat it as if it is something to be ashamed of and fearful to talk about because not talking about it is how it turns into the growing problem that it has become.
You can’t always wait for the signs that you could be missing. People who suffer from depression are just too good at hiding it for anyone who’s not paying attention to notice. Don’t wait for them to cry out for help. You have to hear the words that aren’t being said, distinguish the nervous giggle from the actual laughter, and be able to see the frowns that are hidden behind the smiles. If you have a friend who is drowning then reach in and grab them out of it kicking and screaming if you have to. Odds are they don’t know how to tell you that they are sinking.
**If you find yourself feeling like you are in a dark place and you are having thoughts of suicide please, please, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 any time of day or night.