I’m going a little off course today… that’s your precursor. Yesterday, I saw the news that Robin Williams had passed away which was very sad. It was even more tragic, however, to learn that he had taken his own life. I did not personally know him but I can claim two degrees of separation! A friend of mine, who lived in LA for a while, accidentally took his bar stool one night and thus became acquainted with him! All that aside, the person I think most of us saw was always laughing and smiling. He appeared to be one of the happiest people on earth! His movies touched so many and making us cry, laugh and ponder.
It’s hard to believe a person who was so loved could be that deeply sad and depressed enough to end their own life. Mental health or mental illness is real. It affects many people. For some reason, it is not deemed ok to talk about like diabetes or cancer or thyroid issues. Very much like these illnesses, however, the individual who suffers from a mental illness did not choose this. They did not make mistakes that lead to this outcome. Some one who is clinically depressed can not simply ‘change their attitude’.
Most of us have no idea what it would be like to have trouble even wanting to get out of bed each morning or to see other people or to be involved in life. While I have experienced heartbreak, loss of loved ones and trauma from work … these issues can not be compared to the weight of depression. I may have felt sad and not wanted to participate for a period but that sadness passed. I still had hope and a realization that my situation could improve or my heart heal.
Clinical depression may have no real ’cause’. It can be triggered by an event or appear one day just like the changing of a season. I have a relative that suffers from a mental illness including depression. In the early stages of his diagnosis, I naively thought if he would exercise and find some activities he enjoyed he could make himself happy. This is what you would tell a friend overcoming a heartbreak or other loss to do … and it would likely work. Clinical depression doesn’t ‘fix’ that easily. It took some time for me to realize his depression was controlling him and not something he could control.
For some, supplements, diet and medication can be the answer. Some studies suggest heavy doses of niacin can help or even alleviate depression. It is also believed cashews contain the same ingredients as prozac. For some, medications do the trick. The issue with medications is most have side affects that can be unpleasant or unwanted. A common problem with taking medication is when a patient is doing well and not depressed they begin to question if they need the medication. Some opt to stop taking the medication because of the side affects and the cycle of depression can begin again. I’ve seen this happen many times with my relative. It can be frustrating and discouraging to consider spending a life time taking medication that may cause foot tremors or fidgeting or weight gain.
As much as we need to take care of our bodies, we also need to take care of our mental health. If you find yourself blue more days than not or lacking the desire to be involved in life, you may want to consider seeing a specialist. If you know someone who seems to have these issues, it may be worth gently approaching the topic from a place of concern not judgement. Left untreated, mental health issues such as depression can have tragic outcomes. Some suffer in silence and leave their families shocked while others show signs. There are many resources out there online and otherwise for sufferers and also support for family and friends. There should be no shame in taking care of your mental health. Life is too precious and short to suffer.