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What if everyone felt this way and talked about it?

This past week hasn’t been an easy one. The world lost a charming, well-loved and talented man. This has inspired people to talk about depression and how it affects all of our lives.

Why don’t people talk about it? Because it’s personal and when it happens to you it sucks and hurts. But what many people are not aware of is that they’re not alone. It happens to a lot of folks and everyone shouldn’t feel like help is not available. It is and you can get support.

Years ago I was catching up with a friend on the phone and somehow I had said this:

I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be afraid.

I meant it too. I had a great job, my family was doing well, my commute was easy (work was a 10 minute drive away). At that moment on the phone I could not remember the tenseness, the dread, the fear of doing everything wrong at work and in my personal life.

I remembered those times but I could not remember at that moment what it felt like. It was gone and I was finally relaxed and at peace. It made me nervous but that was OK.

Less than a year later I called Lily on a Friday just before noon and said how sorry I was but I needed to quit my job immediately. It was not working out for me and without getting myself into trouble I can say that some people do not deserve the label “human being”.

Lily’s response was exactly as I had hoped.

It’s fine, it’s going to be alright. Don’t worry just do what you have to do. It’s OK.

Support is important and it counts. I resigned and was granted the next 2 weeks off paid. Some of the people I dealt with were raised by a family after all.

I had to quit. Normally being depressed makes a situation worse but for many months at work I was feeling trapped. I became short-tempered, I was eventually talking to myself in front of Lily (thankfully just her I think). I began to respond to everyone either defensively or with outright hostility. I came down with shingles.

Walking away was the start of my dealing with my problem. After a short 30 day break I found new work. While it’s not always flowers and sunshine, it’s good and I’m lucky to be in that environment where I can contribute positively.

That’s how depression is for me

It’s that unreasonable fear and sadness about everything I do. Sometimes it’s from a bad day or it comes for no reason at all. It’s being angry at myself and eventually others. It’s being frightened all the time and it feeds itself in a sick loop. Sometimes it stops me cold. It’s not always there thankfully, and usually it’s delivered in small doses and I cope with it. When it really hits hard I can’t get a thing done.

I deal with it by relying on my family and friends especially Lily. I do reality checks all the time. I have to as sometimes someone will say a word to me and I’ll need to step back and realize that they didn’t mean to upset me.

When I don’t deal with it I lash out at those near me. I treat others badly and I become ashamed.

Help when you can even if you don’t understand

People who are dealing with this aren’t bad, or weak, or anything. They need help and support. My support is my family and it works for me. I hate using this phrase, but for me this is not that bad.

Some aren’t that lucky and hurt themselves or others. If you suspect someone is dealing with this try to be supportive. Even an “Are you OK?” can help turn it around and your support means the world to people. It’s a dialog and if that doesn’t work then just being around can make it better.

If you are going through this then it’s OK. You might not know it but you are not alone. Others are coping and getting support and that can happen for you too. It’s hard but talk to someone about this, write about it, put it down on paper. Consider seeing a doctor. It just may help you cope and you can begin to feel better.

Feeling better even in degrees is a great relief and no one should deal with this alone.

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Jan Dembowski