Let’s talk about depression. Garden variety depression is all around us. It’s on TV, it’s in the movies, it’s probably in a family member or close friend… So, we should all be getting better at dealing with depression, right? Both our own depression, and the dark days of our friends and family. BUT, here’s the rub, we don’t deal with sadness and depression in our society very well at all. In fact, people (middle-class middle-aged men and women, young people, LGBQ folks, homeless vets) are committing suicide at a higher and higher rate.
What Is Killing Us?
I’ve suffered from both depression and DEPRESSION in my life. I was first diagnosed as “manic depressive” when I was 15 years old. What we now call bipolar depression, was something akin to madness when I was a high school student at a high-powered prep school up East. And when the illness showed up in a young, normally well, hi-flying student and athlete… Well, let’s just say the prep school had no tools to deal with me. Sure, I got to go see the school counselor, but he didn’t have a clue what was going on with me.
Young People and Depressive Illness
Why are young people killing themselves these days? What sort of pressure can I, an 8th grader, have at this early stage of their life? Can a SnapChat shaming cause a popular high school sweetheart to cut herself in secret? And what about the aspirational freshman in college who takes an overdose of sleeping pills in his dorm room on a Tuesday night?
Middle-aged White Men Are Jumping Off Bridges at an Alarmingly High Rate
What’s killing Atticus Finch? What pressures of success and financial status are so harsh and deep, that successful white men are jumping to their deaths in 2019? Is the social pressure for success so high? When the dreams of our own personal success don’t measure up, why do we kill ourselves? What about that new Tesla is causing us to jump rather than climb up and try again?
Inclusiveness and Depression
Young people, people of color, and people with fluid sexual orientations are having a hard time in our uber-connected, uber-social society. Sure, we’re getting better at being inclusive. But, we’re not doing good enough. The LGBTQIA community is suffering mightily from depressive suicide. And even if the ideation is not put into a plan, just BEING DEPRESSED SUCKS.
Depression Sucks the Energy and Soul Out of All of Us
Depression is truly a soul killer. And it might be a slippery slope towards suicide if we don’t get a handle on it, both personally and as a society. Bi-polar is simply the “flavor of the month” for depression. And suffering from depression at various times during the year (holidays, winter months, on anniversaries of tragic life events) is part of our problem.
There is hope.
How to help a friend who is dealing with depression
We can do more. Here are a few things you can do to help a friend who is dealing with depression.
- Give them a call.
- Give them a hug.
- Suggest they get some help, professional help is necessary.
- Ask to attend an Al-Anon meeting with them.
- Text them a “Happy Monday” message every Monday for the rest of their lives
- Reach out and touch them, physically, and digitally.
- Don’t be silent.
- Don’t tolerate or collude with their feelings of hopelessness.
- Don’t deny depression is an issue.
- Be light-hearted about it. “It’s just a little depression. It’s not the end of the world.”
What you cannot do is sit by and be a witness to someone else’s suffering. Don’t wait for your sad friend to reach out to you, you reach out to them. Just a, “Hey, I was thinking about you,” can save a life. I promise. I know.
Most of all, never give up on them. Never collude or agree with their low opinion of themselves or their life. You can’t do it alone, but you can provide huge comfort to someone going through a depressive week, month, or year.
We can and should talk about depression openly. If you want to get some support, I’m offering 30-minute free sessions to anyone and everyone. Just visit the Coaching Page above and send me an email.
And if there’s anything else I can do, please don’t hesitate to call me or email me. I’m here.
John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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- Important Read: Fighting Back Against Depression: How to be a Friend
- Am I a Suicide Statistic?
- Voyeurism, Sadness, and Traveling Alone: a Tincture of Depression
You can find all of my books on AMAZON.
Here Comes the Darkness: Surviving and Thriving After a Mental Illness Diagnosis