Friday, May 27, 2011
To Write Love...a Blog about Depression (CC Winners)
Anyone who sees me on a normal day will recognize this bracelet dangling from my wrist. Other days, you'll probably see me sporting a "To Write Love On Her Arms" tee-shirt. I'm a huge fan of the organization and all they do for people who suffer from depression and families/friends of suicide victims and survivors (including families and friends) of suicide attempts. I can't tell you what they mean to me. And I also can't tell you how I suffer. The words don't always come out the way I want them to, and I fear talking about the dark days--as if even mentioning what I go through might send me back into the pitch. So who better than J.S. Wayne to stand with me and bring about awareness with his experience and gift with words. If you've never met him, never read a word he's written...it is my most sincere honor to introduce you to J.S. Wayne.
I would like to believe that I am unique. In many ways, I am. I can take a great deal of pride in knowing that I have done things and been places that most people have never done, been, or seen. I’ve had a rich and full life so far, and I hope that it continues to be so.
But in one way, I am not unique at all.
I am one of nearly forty-two million Americans, or 16.5% of the total population, who suffers from depression.
We’ve all seen the commercials featuring the (mostly women) sitting on her couch looking sad while the world passes her by. “Depression hurts,” is the tagline for these commercials. And there’s a very good reason for that.
But before we get into the whys and wherefores, we first have to set a working definition of depression. So:
The DSM-IV, the gold standard in diagnosing mental illness among the psychological/psychiatric community for decades, defines depression as a complex of symptoms stemming from a biochemical imbalance in the brain that is severe enough to interfere with a person’s inability to function normally in a job, relationship, or other social or private matters and lasts more than two weeks. The symptoms include insomnia or needing excessive amounts of sleep, depressed mood during most of the day, loss of interest in activities that normally the person enjoys, significant weight loss or gain (equal to or more than 5% of the person’s normal body weight in a one-month period), apparent inability to move or think quickly as observed by others, fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day, feelings of worthlessness or excessive or irrational guilt (“I’m sorry I was ever born, look at all the trouble I’ve caused”), diminished ability to think or concentrate, and recurrent or obsessive thoughts of death, suicide, or a specific plan or attempt to commit suicide.
To be considered depressed, one must exhibit at least five out of the nine traits listed above; and this is only for ONE type of depression (major depressive episode); the DSM-IV lists out NINE specific kinds of depression or depressive disorder. At least one of the five traits exhibited must be either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.
At one point or another, I have exhibited Every. Last. One.
Frightening, isn’t it?
Depression is not just in a person’s mind; according to the National Institute for Mental Health, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among people ages 15-24. Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression; but men are THREE TIMES more likely to attempt or commit suicide as women.
People experiencing depression will often know they are acting irrationally or “out of character,” but can’t seem to figure out why. They may be lethargic or capable of running for days on end on an amount of sleep that a healthy person would find wholly inadequate. Depression is often linked to physical complaints such as joint or back pain that are untraceable and undetectable upon physical examination. So, yes, when the commercials say that depression hurts, they mean to be taken very literally, in a wide variety of senses.
Depression hurts the sufferer; it also hurts the people who care about and rely on the sufferer. Billions of dollars are lost in worker productivity and medical expenses each year as a direct result of depression. It tears families and lives apart. People lose their jobs, their houses, and even, tragically, their lives because of depression every year, in mind-boggling numbers.
If you just read the symptom list I gave above and said, “Hey, that sounds like me,” and you’re still reading this, you need to be on the phone or the web, getting in touch with your family. A friend. Your doctor. Your priest (or equivalent religious figure or aid). Anyone you love or trust enough to be honest about what you’re feeling, and why. And then you need to get help.
Some people find that medication works well. Some people alter their habits and lifestyle in a healthy way with remarkable results. Active meditation is the best way for some, while others find classical treatment from a qualified therapist works. Whatever YOUR best way is, find it. Don’t keep it to yourself. Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t let yourself become another tragic statistic.
It takes a lot of courage to ask for help. It may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do.
But it may save your job, your marriage, or even your life.
Weighed against that, isn’t it worth it? It won’t be comfortable; it won’t be easy. I’m not going to tell you it is.
But I swear on everything I hold sacred that it is worth it. And it’s not your fault. It’s not a failing or a weakness. It’s not something you see coming, or that you can say will never happen to you. But there is help. There is hope. And there are a hell of a lot of people out there who’ve been there and understand.
You’re talking to one of them now.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any or all of the symptoms I listed above, do your homework. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. And call or visit any of these resources. Don’t wait. Don’t hesitate.
You may save a life.
Still need more convincing? Stop over to J.S. Wayne's Blog and read Melissa's Secret. Everyone should read this story! It can really open your eyes.
1-800-273-8255 is the number for the Suicide Prevention Hotline in the US. Check your directory for the appropriate number for your locale. Make this your first call, especially if you have ANY reason to believe that you or the person you’re concerned about may be thinking about suicide.
American Foundation for Suicide PreventionDepression and Suicide Resources and Information
To Write Love On Her Arms (clickable picture link)Resources and Assistance for Sufferers of Drug Abuse, Depression, Suicide Attempts, and Their Families
Allure Van Sanz T-shirt
Allure Van Sanz Ebook (Your choice of any Noble book)
Erotic author J.S. Wayne's copy of Angels Would Fall
Erotic author J.S. Wayne's copy of Angel of the Morning
Colon Cancer Awareness Giveaway Winners:
AVS Book - Mona Risk
Patti Shenberger Print Book - Wendy S. Marcus
Avril Ashton's Ebook - Neecy