It should not surprise you when a clown tumbles.
People are always so surprised to find out that someone who laughs or makes people laugh suffers from depression. Have you not heard the saying, “if I don’t laugh I will cry”? Besides, people get very good at answering “I’m fine/okay/pretty good, how are you?” And now the conversation has moved on to you and past the question.
This subject is periodically brought to the forefront when a famous person loses the battle with depression and takes their life; most recently Robin Williams. The fact of the matter is, people take their lives every day and it rarely makes the media or the real reasons are hidden due to the shame or misunderstanding of the condition. Every one of us knows of someone who is fighting or has fought this battle.
Some people are lucky enough to have one or two friends who, when they say “how are you?”, either you feel like you can answer honestly or they read you and say, “really, how are you today?” It is only when you are able to open up that you realize, you are not alone in feeling depressed or sad. And the fact is, it is okay to feel sad about something that has occurred and sometimes people simply get overwhelmed and go to their dark place for a while.
The critical part is to have someone who will not judge or try to fix you that you can talk to during these times. Since the cause is not always as simple as this or that, you need to know what your triggers are. Journaling is a tool that can come in handy for much more than exercise and eating; it is a good tool to find triggers. Once you understand yourself better it is time to use outlets to regain balance. Talk to someone, exercise, go for a run, but get yourself balanced without burying the feelings.
Develop cues with trusted people so they know you might need some help that day; I did this by accident once by using a line from Top Gun. Whenever I got into a spot and was struggling with something I started catching myself saying “Talk to me Goose.” It was kind of as a joke, but a few wise people picked up on it. Just do whatever it takes to get through the rough spots.
Learn about the signs of depression and really get to know your friends and family members. They do not need ideas on ways to stay busy or things they should try to do to make them happier, what they need is to have people who understand them. Know that comments like “oh, here comes Mr. or Mrs. Grumpy/Happy/Negativity…” really don’t help either. They do not need to be reminded that they are sad, they just need you to be there for them.
Education is key and people need to understand that suicide is a permanent “solution” to a temporary problem. I have heard it said before that if someone has cancer they go to the specialist and everyone supports them. Why is it that in this day and age people still feel the need to hide mental health issues? There is help and a variety of resources available and easily accessible; seek them out. If you are suffering from depression, please get help somewhere! If you suspect a friend, family member or coworker is suffering from depression, help them find help. At least tell them that you are there and willing to listen without judgment if they would like to talk. No one should have to fight this battle alone.
Please get help somewhere!
These are just a few resources to look at:
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline