Friday, September 19, 2014

Depression is a self-determined journey

So how can you make someone recognize they have depression?
This question has been posed many times, but unfortunately the answer is not the one those people want to hear.
The simple answer is: you can't (at the very least it is extremely difficult to do.)
It sucks, I know.
I wish there was a some formula to help people see the lies that are controlling their lives, but no such formula exists. Not that I know of anyway.
I have presented this question to psychiatrists, doctors, counsellors and have even heard it posed to one of the top radio counsellors on the planet.
They all had the same answer: the person with depression is the only one who can do anything about it - they must acknowledge they have a problem and need help.
The best comparison I have heard is to that of an alcoholic: until they admit they need help, they will not seek help.
Sorry if this is not very encouraging, but it has been my experience that this is the sad truth about mental health. I am hardly an expert on such matters, but I have learned a bit from the school of hard knocks, having struggled with mental health issues for many years.
I saw depression manifest itself in a close family relation when I was a teen and decided if I had depression, I was going to admit it and do everything I could to fight it. I saw how damaging it could be, how it can take a good person and make them angry, or withdrawn or so sad they can not get out of bed.
It would be more than a decade from that moment before the depression that runs in my family would arrive at my doorstep. A series of sad and difficult events brought it crashing into my mind like a freight train plowing through a pile of marshmallows.
The instant it took hold, I knew life had changed. I could physically feel it. I also knew I could not fight this thing on my own, so I went to the doctor who put me on medication.
It took a few tries to find the right medication, but through trial and error I found one that works.
So if you, or someone you know, has tried one type of medication and it did not work, do not stop looking for one that will. It is far too important to dismiss after only a single try.
But good for you if you are even willing to try medication to help.
The first and most important step to dealing with mental health is admitting you have a problem – just like an alcoholic. I know several people who have mental health issues – I can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voice and witness its impact in their daily lives – but they refuse to get help.
One friend told me he could not have depression because he has a sense of humour. Another said if her husband would do this or that different, or if she had a different job, or a nicer house, newer car everything would be fine.
I know people who have divorced seeking relief from the mental anguish they find themselves in, only to have that anguish follow them because wherever you go, so does your brain.
For those living with someone suffering from mental health issues, life can be very hard. But there is help for partners through various agencies and online resources (, or My wife has taken several courses to help her deal with my own depression.
As for the person with depression, change is up to them because only they can take that most important step of admitting they need help. And once they do, life will change for the better.

Copyright 2014 Darren Handschuh

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