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Depression Confessions

Kevin Breel: Confessions of a Depressed Comic

Breel, the young brother in the video above says a ton of significant things – he’s worth listening to. For instance, he says:

…what you really fear the most, isn’t the suffering inside of you, it’s the stigma inside of others. It’s the shame, it’s the embarrassment, it’s the disapproving look on a friend’s face; it’s the whispers in the hallway that you’re weak, it’s the comments that you’re crazy – that’s what keeps you from getting help, that’s what makes you hold it in and hide it.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where if you break your arm, everyone runs over to sign your cast, but if you tell people you’re depressed everyone runs the other way – that’s the stigma. We are so accepting of any part of our body breaking down other than our brains and that’s ignorance….

In thinking about depression, I long for the day when the stigma is no more; for the day when people don’t look at others strange because they voice that they suffer from it; the day when it is as normal to talk about your mental illness as it is to talk about your physical illness. This longing means that we have work to do. It will not just happen and it will not happen overnight. But I believe that it can indeed happen.

By no means am I an expert, neither am I qualified to give medical or professional advice; but some of the things I know to be important regarding the Clinically Depressed are:

1. Dismissing is Dangerous: We should never dismiss a person who bravely admits that they struggle with this illness. They more than likely already feel isolated and alone – your reaction matters.

2. It’s Not That Simple: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is complex and multidimensional. Everyone who suffers from it will have a different experience and a different path toward wholeness.

3. Illness is Actual: Make no mistake about it, MDD is an illness. It doesn’t care how much faith you have or don’t have. And sometimes it takes a person a long time to get well, even after they are able to seek out the help that they need. Patience is required. We don’t try to make physically ill people heal immediately, the same care should be taken with the mentally ill person.

4. Wellness is a Process: Prayer, psychotherapy, self care strategies, supportive, patient friends, and if necessary, medication, are a powerful combination on the journey through depression. Depression is sometimes situational and other times biological and chemical.

5. Needs Can Be Discovered: If you don’t know how you can help or what a person needs, love and respect them enough to ask them.

6. Suicidal Thoughts Are Powerful & also Preventable: When someone tells you that they desire or plan to end their life, don’t ignore them. Take their pain seriously. Abandoning them during their time of need is not the most helpful approach. If you can hear the cry for help, don’t ignore it.

Resources: Suicide Hotline and Suicide Prevention and another, Crisis Chat.
Not Alone: Reflections on Faith and Depression – Dr. Monica Coleman

7. Deadly Combinations Exist: Silence and isolation can be deadly – literally. Courage to speak up and reach out for help is life giving and when someone reaches out to you, be supportive. If there was ever a time to demonstrate true friendship, that time is now.

These are just a few observations and insights – brief and not at all exhaustive.

Do you know someone who suffers from depression? Are you one who suffers from depression? Will you help or get helped?

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10 Things I Know About Depression

Today was one of “those days.” Because it was one of those days, I found myself thinking about Major Clinical Depression and what I have learned and still continue to learn about the disease. This post, though random and unedited is the product of what’s on my mind today.

Here are some of the things I have discovered about “The Big D”

1. It respects no one – you can be young, middle age, older, intelligent, naive, religious, atheist, or whatever and struggle with this illness.

2. Just when you think you have it beat, sometimes it strikes again from somewhere out of no where and the battle continues

3. There is hope and those who live in depressive prone bodies can get through it and overcome

4. Some folks need medication and others do not, but all who face major clinical depression need some form of help/support

5. Cloudy, rain filled days are just plain HARD! [Hot Chocolate is necessary for me on those days]

6. Sometimes people won’t know something is wrong unless you tell them

7. Many Church communities are the worst places for those battling depression & still other Church communities are the BEST places to walk through this difficult struggle.

8. Major Clinical Depression is complex and multidimensional. Everyone will have a different experience and a different path toward wholeness

9. Prayer, great Christian psychotherapy, self care strategies, supportive/listening/patient friends (and if needed, medication), are a powerful combination on the journey through depression.

10. Silence and isolation can be deadly, courage to speak up and reach out for help is life giving.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional, clinically trained counselor. If you are in need of help, please contact your physician immediately.