JUST MY THOUGHTS ON DEPRESSION
By Laura Holzbach
August 14, 2014
This week, as a result of the loss of Robin Williams I am sure, I have read more than a few posts about depression and suicide. I am saddened to see how easily the judgmental comments fly. Comments like "most selfish thing you could do" and "you have a choice" and "just get over it" are just a few that I read. What you are reading here are my thoughts on the subject....I am not a doctor or anything. I am just compelled to write what's on my mind in hopes of making a difference or to bring about some understanding.
My first thought is, unless you have personally been in that dark place where unimaginable thoughts seem like real options, then please do not comment on someone suffering with depression. It doesn't count if you "know" someone or have a friend or family member who.....The only ones who really, really know, and I feel have a right to describe it, have unfortunately been there. Those are the ones who have endured the crushing pressure depression brings. It completely changes who you are.
Secondly, I wholeheartedly agree that it is a spiritual problem. It is also a disease of the mind. Depression takes you places you don't want to go and it requires unbelievable effort to dig out. Well-meaning advice and preaching only sounds like blah, blah, blah. Sincere help is required, preferably someone who has lived it. Demonstrating a know-it-all spirit or criticizing just creates a stronger barrier between help and the depressed.
Something that you must realize is that depressed people are far from selfish. They usually are excessive givers of all they have: time, money, and love without question or limits. Depressed people measure how much you value them by how accepted they feel, whether they are giving or not. Being accepted no matter what will build a bridge, whereas pointing out areas where they could change builds walls.
Also, depression is not a choice. Just like you don't choose cancer, one does not choose depression. It's exactly like the commercial for the anti-depressant where the heavy coat puts itself on the person and won't leave. It is a weight you cannot shake. It wraps itself around you and takes hold, zipping up tight for the long haul. Depression is not invited and when it shows up, it acts like it owns the place. It sets up shop and begins roughing up the most tender places, running like a bull in the china closet causing destruction every step of the way. No....sufferers of depression do not choose this life. Accordingly, they deserve help, respect, and support as they wage war against this unwanted disease.
When a depressed person gets deep and dark enough that they consider, or God forbid, take their own life....it is because they absolutely think it is the very best decision for the problem they are facing. It makes sense to them. It's not a selfish choice. It is one that a depressed person believes is based on rational thinking. It doesn't matter that "ending it" means forever. It's just the way to get relief from the constant battle in the mind.
In closing, being judgmental, critical or preachy is the worst thing you can do. It would be better if you said nothing. Because as you judge, ridicule, and speak poorly of someone caught up in depression, they are hearing every word you say and even ones you don't. And they believe it. Every. Single. Word. They readily believe themselves to be selfish, ungodly, and deserving of this painful walk through life.
I am one of those people who has walked this road. Yes, me. The girl who believes the glass is half full, runs on optimism and a belief that prizes are always appropriate. Nearly twenty years ago I emptied every pill bottle in my house into a ziploc sandwich bag. I put the bulging bag in the top drawer of my dresser thinking I would use them one day. Thank God, I did not and I am far from that girl today. The short version of a long story is that I needed the medical help (anti-depressant) so I could seek the spiritual help and life changes necessary to fight this deadly battle. God blessed me and has proved Himself in miraculous ways and I am grateful that He is on my side to face everyday. God is merciful.
But please hear what I am really saying...Don't try to give advice if you haven't been there, 'cause you just don't understand. Only those who have walked the walk can truly say "I know how you feel."
I pray if you read this that you will consider these words when you witness a depressed person struggling. Don't condemn them. You haven't walked in their shoes.