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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Musings on Depression...

With the passing of Robin Williams, a large part of social media is ablaze with discussions on mental illness.  Mostly, I see this discussion as a good thing.  Discuss it, put it in the open, stigmatize it less, encourage people to seek help.  All good.

I have seen a few people calling out suicide victims as being selfish, foolish, attention-seeking, weak, and a host of other bad things.  How is this helping?  I suppose it helps the poster feel better about themselves, temporarily.  I don't know.  I know that a person suffering from depression who reads such comments will not be helped by that.  Even the ones who claim to have been depressed in the past make comments that belie their claims.  (Hint: if you felt really sad once, and got over it?   You haven't suffered from depression.)  Even if you have actually struggled with depression, each case is different.  Each person is different.  Just because you feel you had the "strength" to not commit suicide when the thought crossed your mind doesn't make the victim weaker.  It means their personal hell is different from yours.

I have seen more people, well-meaning people, saying things like "if only he had accepted the gift of salvation...", "If only he had the hope we have in Christ...", "True joy only comes through relationship with God, if only he had discovered that."  Where do I start with how damaging this can be?  No matter the intention, this implies being a Christian makes you immune to depression.  It implies that you aren't a "real Christian" if you struggle with mental illness, that you simply don't have "enough faith".

The longer we perpetuate these myths, the longer we deny the chemical and physical nature of mental illnesses, the more people will die.  Yes, that's harsh, it's meant to be.  The ones who don't commit suicide will still largely suffer in silence, alone, afraid to seek help because of these myths.

It has to stop.  We have to be more careful of how we say what we say.

If YOU are struggling today, please know you are not alone.  Seek help and do not let the naysayers convince you otherwise.  You are loved, you are valued, and you CAN feel better.

If you don't feel you have anywhere else to turn, here is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline : 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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