This Fragile Life

We’re doing it wrong. This I know.

The public suicides have depression in the news lately. It stuns us….then we forget. That’s how most of us deal with pain. Which is OK and normal sometimes….but not in this case.
We’ve been putting a Bandaid on a open chest cavity.
Life brings stress. Good things happen, bad things happen. Nothing is happening at all. All can cause anxiety. 
Life can be good. Life can be bad. Life can be “fine”. Depression can happen with all three.
People have more money than they can spend in a lifetime. People are drowning in debt. People are living paycheck to paycheck. People are financially secure. All can cause a mind to be in turmoil.
You can have a lot of people who love you. You can have a close circle of friends. You can have no one. You can be surrounded by others all the time, or be a loner. You can be the life of the party…or the person sitting at home in front of a TV set or a computer.  You can feel as though no one cares and that no one really knows you.
We ask people how they’re doing, but never hear anything but fine. We aren’t asking to learn the true answer. We ask because it is polite. Often if they would tell the truth we would cringe and change the subject. Or over-react and scare them. Often they tell us what they think we want to hear, because they have been taught fine is the only appropriate way to be….and that no one really cares about their answer.
If you have any interaction with people, you know someone suffering from anxiety or depression. It may be that thing in yourself that you haven’t wanted to label, but the reason you do some of the things you do.
Our choice of treatment in America has been to medicate people. Sometimes that is a right and appropriate thing to do, but it should not be the only thing.
Those who don’t feel they can express what is going on with themselves, and there are oh-so-many of these people, self-medicate. That’s the real reason for the problems we have with alcoholism and other chemical dependency. That’s the real reason we have problems with obesity. That’s the reason so many people self-isolate and why others find themselves in inappropriate and wrong relationships. Maybe it is why you avoid the unpleasant and live a life you don’t love.

We need to be honest. We need to talk about depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Yes, some people don’t understand. Some people can’t understand. Some people refuse to understand. But we need to talk anyway. If people see the faces, and hear the stories of your heart, a new face will be put on a condition that is biological in nature. That is actually quite natural. That is universal. We all have a certain body chemistry that to some extent controls us. It does not always tell us the truth. Sometimes you need help to find a healthy way to keep it from disturbing your joy in life. Yes, medication is sometimes necessary. Self medication is seldom the answer. Get the help of someone who will walk though it with you. A medical professional you trust is a good place to start….but if they simply give you medication and send you on your way and believe that in itself is enough, know they may not understand it all themselves. There are other healthy ways you can learn to cope, with medication or not.

I lost two family members to suicide within six months. I have lost friends and acquaintances who I thought were coping with life well, and others who I knew were fragile. You leave behind people who hurt unbelievably for the rest of their lives.

You matter. This world needs you. Fight against the lies your body may be telling you, but don’t fight alone. Form an army. Yes, it may take a while to find the right soldiers, but look for those who will have your back. I promise you they are out there.

I chose the picture at the top, the dandelion in its most fragile state, because I feel like that is us. All of us. At times we are fragile. We don’t need a strong wind or someone blowing on us. We need someone who appreciates our beauty, just as we are.

If you feel you must be anonymous now, call a suicide prevention hotline (tel:1-800-273-8255). Tell your doctor, make an appointment with a counselor. (Many employers offer something called an EAP where you can get a certain number of free visits with a counselor. See if this is available to you.) Or call someone like me. I’ll only judge you with pride for reaching out for help. I’ll hold your hand. You’re going to be alright….and live a life that may be bumpy, but can be very, very good. I promise.

We’re doing it wrong. We’re forgetting to teach healthy ways to deal with anxiety and depression, which we all will encounter in different measures. We’re forgetting to look out for each other. We’re forgetting that some of the outward behaviors and screw-ups of those around us happen because people are inappropriately trying to cope. We can get better at helping each other. I know it.

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