Sunday, December 11, 2016

Being Eaten Alive: What to do when someone you know is facing Depression

When you're living your normal life with confidence and passion and enthusiasm, Depression seems like a distant memory. A silly phase that's long gone. It seems like you've been cured, and so you're more willing to tell the world about it. Conversely, when you're facing the reality of Depression, it is a deep, hidden secret. This is why it's a problem.

Only a few weeks ago, I was living in my special, self-assured little world. I was social, talkative, optimistic, and feeling ready to take on the world! Sadly, the past few days have been much more Hellish inside my brain. I've reverted back to anxiety, seclusion, self-destruction, and obsession. As usual, rather than reaching out to others and requesting their help, I've become a hermit. I only go outside when I absolutely must, I only talk to people when I must, and my sense of self-worth and love is completely depleted.

Some people ask what happened, what "triggered" this, what can I do, they do, we all do? By nature, people are kind (despite what my intensely misanthropic Depressed brain says) and they want to be there for those facing this illness. However, the brain chemicals have no ears. They don't care who listens or hugs or "is there for me". Even if I meditate or chant or spin 3 times while lighting sage on fire, these things won't help. Maybe some people, though. Spin away, if it helps.

So, what can you do, as someone who is watching someone you love suffer? You have to do all you can do- you have to be aware and be patient. These are the two MOST important things you can do. Pushing someone to get out of their slump or making them feel bad about it is of no help to anyone, it may even be dangerous. A little nudge to go out or look at beautiful and happy things, and showing that you're there for them and love them unconditionally, this is all helpful. However, be aware that in the end, only the brain gets to choose.The brain gets to control the mood and thoughts of this individual. It really is like a demon taking over or being put in a hypnotic state. The person you once knew is under a spell of darkness. Until they are released, everyone is at risk. At this time, nothing is about you. What they do and say is probably not personal, their choices and feelings are not your fault, and if you can't "fix" someone, it is because they could not be fixed or did not wish to be. Depression is about the individual, it is so enveloping that anyone outside the individual is hardly present at all.

That is why awareness is extremely important in these cases. There are many types of Depressed people. Everyone expresses it differently and to different degrees. There are those who need to be addressed; who will do everything in the world to be heard and seen and loved. Then there are those who suffer quietly. Both types need help, but doing this boldly isn't always a good idea. Much like helping a stray dog who is nervous around humans, you can't just jump at them and scoop them away. Sometimes you have to ease them out with treats and kiss sounds. Other times, you have to accept that they'll never trust your hands. In this case, you just have to be on the lookout for changes in behaviour. The way they speak or interact with you, or if they interact with you at all! If suddenly this person seems to be in dangerous or harmful situations more often. If they keep "accidentally" getting hurt, or being put in risky situations, or spending more time with risky people, places, and things. If hobbies go ignored, responsibilities and usual habits go untouched. All these changes have the potential to be red flags. If the worst thing you can do is inquire or try to make this person's life a little easier and their worst response is frustration with you, I say it's worth it. If the person seeks seclusion, don't force them out, but do check in on them. If only a text or email or a random care package or letter in the mail.... Until you try, you don't know what will reassure this person or pull the demon out from them.

In this stage, the demon is more like a coma. The Depressed individual seems gone, but they can hear you and feel your presence. With enough persistence and care, it just might work. This may contradict what I said above, about the futility of your attempts to change a person. However, there is a difference. When you're showing you care, this is not an effort to help or save them, it is not insistent and rushed. This kind of expression is gentle and without a motive. You'll likely have a goal or intent, but when offering your hand, this should be empty of any purpose but to express a feeling of love without any strings or expectations attached.

All people experience Depression in different ways, some more obviously than others. But there are signs that a closer look can determine. If you want to make a difference and be the one who "caught them", it is possible. If you suspect someone is facing Depression to an extent that they need help, find a local resource, either a crisis hotline or online chat, or even a website with more information. If not for them, do it for your own understanding of the problem and 'what to do if'. Get informed, that's the best thing you can do before anything else. Knowledge is what will help you get through this difficult time.

Good luck and be well.

12 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Depression is the symptom of unresolved issues. Nobody is born depressed. Depression is just the symptom. The inability to be honest withourselves over past issues and how we truly feel and holding all the pain and anger and hurt causes depression. Unfortunately there is nothing on the outside that can fix it. no pill no friends no alcohol no drugs. Etc All these things may make it go away for awhile, but at the end of the day only fearless soul searching and honesty will cure depression. That's 90 percent of the battle. The other 10 percent.. and the most scariest is being honest with someone other than yourself. Its the only real solution and very few people have the tenacity and courage , so they settle for the easier softer way. By Every distraction known to man. money,looks, a new home,a new wife, a new boyfriend, a new haircut. But wherever you go..there you are. Ofcourse I still get depressed but its situational and easily let go. But its impossible to let go of things you are ashamed to admit or pretend never happened. You simply cant just lock it all away in a corner of your mind. You will always know the truth. you cant hide from it. That one or many secrets you told yourself "no body can ever know this" That's whats causing the depression. Just because your prison cell is comfortable and nice and well kept and decorated , doesn't mean it isn't a jail cell. Infact you may even forget that you are even in a jail cell. Till one day, the door slams shut. I think its only when people are on the brink of destruction that they are willing to try. A lot don't make it because they get caught up in everything else they "THINK" would work. But in the end its courage, self honesty, and opening up about the dark secret that's killing you that works. Then you have to pay it forward by helping others out of their prison cells. But you cant just skip to the end. That's just another way of taking the focus off yourself. I'm honestly amazed at how much strength it takes to pretend everything is ok and the world is all sunshine and rainbows, when you know its raining on the inside. But if you apply that extraordinary effort and willpower towards doing these 4 things. The most amazing thing happens. It works!

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    1. Thank you for that insight! I definitely do agree with your take on Depression. Although there are temporary treatments and moments of relief, it is ongoing and has to be addressed, or it won't ever cease. Not that anyone can promise a resolution, even after taking all the "best" steps, but there are ways of improving the outcome, I believe. As I always say, discussion is so key for this very reason. It's on the individual to get help and take necessary steps. This requires great strength, but so does dealing with it in any other way. Better to fight to cork the issue than to ignore the stream.

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  3. For some people the temporary solution is the solution. But I think for people who suddenly get depressed for "seemingly" no reason Its a different story. I always think of robin Williams suffering in secret, putting on the happy clown face so everybody thinks everything is ok when it wasn't. What do you say to a man who has won an Oscar , who is famous all over the world and has a seemingly endless supply of jokes? Humor can be one of those temporary reliefs and its good but it doesn't solve the problem. Its hard to address because like you said everyone is different. For some people , they are able to bounce back. Some people wallow in a pit of self despair. I don't knock prescribed meds, but ive been around enough to know that the doctors are throwing darts at a dart board hoping something sticks. And if you get addicted to something then you have an entirely new slew of problems. You might be surprised at how the body reacts to grief or emotional pain. Some people can actually will themselves to die rather than deal with the grieving process. And when I say grieving I mean not only grieving the loss of a loved one but maybe its the loss of a dream or a relationship or in some countries a favorite prized goat. I don't believe in corking the issue. I believe rather have experienced this wonderful flow of release that was instantly replaced happiness. But it was only because I realized I wasn't the only one who had to deal with the issue I was trying to cork. Theres something that happens when you open up and let it all out that the medical field hasn't been able to do. Its one thing to lay on a couch so to speak and talk to someone who just sits there and nods and scrolls through a book and says " ok the book says to do this" And talking openly and honestly with someone who has experienced the same disasters in life. You wont find that kind of intimacy in any bottle or book. In the end I think a lot of people actually are choosing their depression because they simply wont open up to anyone , either its pride or shame or a bit of both. What an enormous struggle to keep it all inside and trying to wear a guise of "normalcy" or "success" whatever those things are. Atleast we are all better than hitler. So we got that going for us. I often tell myself that "I'm doing better than hitler did at dealing with this"

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    1. I am not sure if you are familiar with me and my studies, but I work in the psychoanalytic field presently, and that is precisely what we aim to do. Unfortunately, therapists have gotten this stigma of non-caring, non-listening money hoarders, but really, more and more people who are suffering themselves are getting into the field. The person sitting behind the couch may be a paid, trained professional, but they also may experience or be experiencing depression, anxiety, psychosis, neuroticism... so on.... Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists, analysts, and even some social workers aren't trying to push drugs. They won't tell you "Okay, go take meds now" unless you truly need medication. However, we have that same theory that many of these symptoms, both physical and mental are due to true feelings, thoughts, and past experiences being repressed. There are people who can help you help yourself. But I'm not sure any one person can be the ONE to cure someone else. It's a team effort and everyone plays their role.

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  4. I understand what you are saying but if its true what you say that the person sitting behind the couch may be experiencing depression anxiety psychosis and neuroticism and they cant cure themselves with all their knowledge how could they possible think they can cure someone else? I'm sure that happens a lot. You would think the person who is supposed to be helping you figure out whats wrong ,would know how to fix it. Granted some mental illnesses have no cure , but why would I even want to talk to a doctor who is suffering from the same thing I'm suffering from and cant even fix themselves? So its obvious that person regardless of the title or amount of education has certainly missed something fundamental to almost every doctor I know. And its because of the ego that the "doctors" refuse to acknowledge the solution. Which sucks when you think that they spent all that money on an education they could've got for $20 in late fees at the library. Not to say you aren't smart, you are . and I'm sure you have many degrees or certificates. But if what you say works how come it doesn't work for you?

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  5. I think if a person refuses to look honestly and openly at their past and see themselves for who they really are or have become not even Sigmund himself could help a person like that. As far as I know, the things I listed work, they worked for me and have worked for every person who ever truly was honest in themselves and their effort. Lets face it only you know the real truth , only you know if you are hiding or lying or avoiding or being defensive. At the end of the day I don't know you from adam. I can only go by what you have said. I know this and have experienced this and me and the people who have done it have had a great success rate. Because theres no excuse, if it doesn't work then its because you are holding back and not being honest about everything. Every person that has done this method has got over their depression like it never existed. You must know that if a patient isn't being honest with you theres no possible way you could help them because you will be giving them the wrong treatment. My question is always the same "what aren't you being honest about that is causing you to hate yourself and putting you into a state of depression?" And I'm kind of surprised that a person that works in the field would suggest "corking" it up as a solution to emotional turmoil. I bet you have a lot of stomach problems

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    1. I'm very confused. You seem to be contradicting yourself. First of all, there is no cure for depression.... Second of all, my field is one in which the client speaks openly, there is very little response and interaction. Exactly what you are suggesting, the client talks and lets out all of his or her thoughts and feelings as they feel comfortable doing so. I never suggested "corking" anything. Also, I am not sure I agree with your idea that he whom cannot cure himself cannot help others with the same problem. Everything is a treatment or an improvement, as I said, I don't believe in a cure. A cure would be death or complete lack of emotions and feelings. How can someone cure sadness? Is this temporary? For the rest of their lives? If something bad happens, will they feel nothing? This doesn't make sense. An analysts job is to be present when these feeling arise and help the client to say them aloud, rather than "cork" them in. I don't know what you mean by "corking", unless you're talking about repressing them. In which case, no, that's not the goal. However, defenses play a role and many people will then repress their true feelings and cover them with anger, sadness, self-destructiveness, or various other dangerous self-treatments.

      Talking is good, but not everyone is ready to do it. In those cases, I think others should allow the individual to go at his or her own pace, rather than force them to act and speak.

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  6. There is a cure for depression its called happiness lol, "What they do and say is probably not personal, their choices and feelings are not your fault, and if you can't "fix" someone, it is because they could not be fixed or did not wish to be" And that's exactly what I'm agreeing with. Its the person who is sick who is in control if they get better not the therapist. The therapist is just the sounding board. Which is exactly the same thing as I said when a person gets honest and opens up the person they choose to open up to doesn't really matter, it could be a homeless nameless bum in an alley they will never see again they choose to tell their deepest fear and darkest stuff too. and by corking I'm referring to your statement "It's on the individual to get help and take necessary steps. This requires great strength, but so does dealing with it in any other way. Better to fight to cork the issue than to ignore the stream" and I think if you cork enough issues eventually you dam up the stream and flood everything out and that's whats happening when the depression "suddenly" sets in for apparently no reason to the victim. You describe it as a disease as if you have no control over the outcome leaving the depressed feeling even more powerless than they already are. Its been my experience that showing them that they can regain control by being rigorously honest about all the "corked" issues literally empowers the individual to realize they are only as sick as their secrets. its like a bandaid on an infected sore, it has to be pulled off in order to truly heal, and it only hurts for a second. But if you are incapable of building intimacy how the heck can you be have the connection enough with someone for them to share the issues they are hiding? just because you wear the title doctor or therapist doesn't mean people will automatically share their deepest stuff with you without there having to be some kind of reciprocating intimacy exchange. That's how you eventually build trust up so the person will open up. And its ok for you to disagree with me that if a person cant help themselves they can fix heal or cure someone who has the very same issues and depression the patient has... This could be understood if you were say a heart surgeon, but you are basically a doctor who deals with feeling while not even in touch with your own or even able to exchange feelings with a patient. And chances are that's EXACTLY the cure the patient really needs. That's the thing that opens the door a crack and pulls the cork. You simply cant fix something that is broken with something that is just as broken. Nobody has all the answers its a constant learning experience, but I know I wouldn't open up to someone who couldn't reciprocate. I might as well talk to myself or exchange small talk with someone who doesn't speak my language as he sits there nodding not knowing anything I'm saying.

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  7. It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to explain how the process to which I am referring works, but it's not quite as simple as you sum it up to be. However, of course, therapy isn't for everyone. I am not one to push it, as I probably wouldn't go if it weren't required for me degree. However, I do think you misunderstood my initial comment on corking. What I, admittedly, poorly was trying to say was that it is easier to slow down the process of "depressing" and work on it, rather than waiting until the whole dang thing comes deluging out. I think we are sort of agreeing on some things here, but our wording is very different. BUT, I do not believe that happiness is a cure. Happiness, like I said, is a very permanent word. It's a constant state of elation that I for one, and most people, I imagine do not want. Being stuck in happiness is just as bad as being stuck in sadness. If you want that, then one can just take a bunch of medication of exist in an empty void. I much rather learn how to experience every emotion and be touched by everything, but then know how to discuss it and get through it rather than act on it (i.e. self-harm or hurting others....) As for your metaphor of the bandaid, anyone can pull off a bandaid, but what happens if the wound is still bleeding or infected? Not just any person on the street can help you then. Some will! Don't get me wrong, I've worked with and befriended many homeless, mentally ill, and otherwise struggling folks who have helped in my healing process and have taught me a lot. But someone WANTS to work with a person who knows their pain and has worked on themselves and others and researched methods towards improvement, then that too is an option. My point was that everyone is different and wants and needs different things, we can't assume all treatment will be the same. And I do still firmly believe that happiness should not and cannot be the goal. If you're seeking ongoing, lifelong happiness, you're going to be quite disappointed.

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  8. You say, "Happiness and being content is the goal of every life" in a very matter-of-fact manner. I still disagree. Due to this one piece of the puzzle, we'll never be on the same page. But, that's okay. I'll work with people how I do and continue to see the positive results I do. You live your life as you do, and I hope that is equally productive and joyful. There needs to be both of us and our sort in the world in order to have balance :)

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  9. I know my own awareness is important, this is why I do go. This doesn't mean I necessarily want to go ;) Also, no, I haven't reached my desired point yet. But I am not seeking results, I am simply seeking encouragement in the right direction. Therapy can take 10, 20, 30, 80 years to get where you want. I've only been doing it about a year and a half. I'm not rushing through, I'm growing and learning.

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