“ …It’s one of the deadliest diseases on the planet, often still shrouded in a sense of shame. And for men under 35, suicide following depression is now the leading cause of death. Novelist Matt Haig recounts his own experience of suicidal thoughts and the long path to recovery… “
“… I am not anti pill. I am pro anything that works and I know pills do work for a lot of people. There may well come a time where I take pills again. For now, I do what I know keeps me just about level. Exercise definitely helps me, as does yoga and absorbing myself in something or someone I love, so I keep doing these things. I suppose, in the absence of universal certainties, we are our own best laboratory. If you are a man or a woman with mental health problems, you are part of a very large and growing group. Many of the greatest and, well, toughest people of all time have suffered from depression. Politicians, astronauts, poets, painters, philosophers, scientists, mathematicians (a hell of a lot of mathematicians), actors, boxers, peace activists, war leaders, and a billion other people fighting their own battles. You are no less or more of a man or a woman or a human for having depression than you would be for having cancer or cardiovascular disease or a car accident.
So what should we do? Talk. Listen. Encourage talking. Encourage listening. Keep adding to the conversation. Stay on the lookout for those wanting to join in the conversation. Keep reiterating, again and again, that depression is not something you “admit to”, it is not something you have to blush about, it is a human experience. It is not you. It is simply something that happens to you. And something that can often be eased by talking. Words. Comfort. Support. It took me more than a decade to be able to talk openly, properly, to everyone, about my experience. I soon discovered the act of talking is in itself a therapy. Where talk exists, so does hope. …”
EXCERPTS “…In the UK, the male suicide rate is its lowest since 1981 – 15.5 deaths per 100,000. But suicide is still the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45. And a marked gender split remains. For UK women, the rate is a third of men’s: 4.9 suicides per 100,000.
It’s the same in many other countries. Compared to women, men are three times more likely to die by suicide in Australia, 3.5 times more likely in the US and more than four times more likely in Russia and Argentina. WHO’s data show that nearly 40% of countries have more than 15 suicide deaths per 100,000 men; only 1.5% show a rate that high for women.”
Men are more likely to die of suicide than women. – This reality bothers me so much,
We, both men and women, together as a community must do something about it.
If you’re a man and you struggle , please join our FB group. It’s a small online community of amazing, compassionate people.
I am also going to start a section on our resource library WorkWithTheBrainYouHave dot com for men, depression, & suicide.
EXCERPTS: Taking care of yourself while helping a friend means recognizing that your own needs are also important. Supporting someone might require a lot of your time and energy and it can be easy to neglect your own self-care. Self care can be anything that helps to rebuild or sustain your emotional, physical, mental, social or spiritual balance.
1. Find BALANCE:
The key is to try to strike a balance between your responsibilities, and those things that help to recharge and maintain our health (like exercising, connecting with friends, finishing that book you’re reading, etc.) If you’re so consumed with helping a friend that you’re neglecting other parts of your life, you’ll get tired and resentful.
2. Set BOUNDARIES:
This means establishing healthy limits, such as being able to tell someone when they are behaving in a way that you are struggling with or find upsetting. Knowing what your limits are, communicating them clearly, and knowing what is and isn’t acceptable are all part of defining and setting boundaries.
3. Know what RESCUE vs. SUPPORT means:
As much as you might wish you could “fix” someone or “fix” things for them, you can’t do someone else’s emotional work for them. The thing to remember though – and this is the trickiest thing about caring for someone who is going through a hard time – is that your friend’s emotional state is beyond your control. Rescuing means over-helping and can actually take away from another person’s self-determination. It is not helpful and can create a dependency rather than a healthy relationship or a healthy way of dealing with mental illness.
4. Remember your OWN NEEDS:
It can become easy to neglect your own needs while helping someone deal with mental health issues. You might even feel guilty for focusing on your own needs, thinking that your friend or family member is in a worse spot than you are. Or perhaps they are even making you feel guilty for it. Set boundaries and stick to them, and make room in your life to do things that are important to you.
5. Remember that you’re NOT ALONE:
It can take more than one person to support someone going through a tough time. It’s not all up to you. Share the experience by reaching out to other friends, family members, teachers, guidance counsellors, family doctors or a counsellor/ therapist. Remember that if you are feeling overwhelmed, you can reach out and talk to someone. Even if your friend refuses to get help, you can still get support for yourself while being there for them.
“I wouldn’t tell anyone you have it. They’ll judge you and treat you differently.” “I wouldn’t tell your boss. It could affect your job.”
Sadly, this is often true. I’ve experienced it first hand and usually the ones who give this response are others that have dealt with the repercussions of disclosing their mental illness. I’ve done this many, many times. I’m quite good at it. I push through it. I smile when I am miserable. I slink off somewhere to manage an anxiety attack. I don’t talk to anyone when I am depressed.
When I reveal it, it is often not met kindly. However, that’s the reason I have decided to talk about it even more. The stigma is there because most keep quiet. This is what emboldens me to share my experiences. You never know who is suffering mentally. You can say you have a physical disease and most often, you are treated with concern or empathy. If you mention a mental disorder, the subject gets changed or the conversation get quiet. It’s an isolating experience.
Music 🎶 helps me a lot … “Then, when I am not feeling well and I find it harder to escape, I can use those same songs to connect to happier times and escape my reality even for a few minutes and give myself a break.”…
🌻 Sophie’s Note 📝. I struggle a lot with depression bouts because of my Bipolar 2 … and I find that there are days when meds don’t work, and I just have to push through it.
This article is based on people’s experience living with TRD – Treatment-resistant depression, and I find many of the suggestions helpful. I hope it can help you too …
“Don’t be a victim.” “No one ever said life was fair.” “Happiness is a choice.” “It’s your choices and your fault.” “You just have to get over it and get on with it.”
Just STOP 🛑.
Family members, friends, ‘friends’, whoever whatever; if you have someone in your life that has Depression or any mental illness, do yourself a favor and educate yourself, at least a tad. It’s not good making your own judgement on them and an illness that you don’t even understand.
The article above is helpful. If you take the time, THANK YOU ❤️ 💜.
Even if you don’t, please stop saying this unhelpful things to people.
It’s either pointless or damaging; but in your eyes you’re ‘helping’. You’re NOT.
So please stop doing it.
– A guest post by Lauren Barker, one of our members.
🌻 Sophie’s NOTE 📝: If you want to suggest a guest post, please feel free to inbox/PM this Page 😊
pic credit: keeleyshawart
Snap Out of It” or “Try Harder”
Having someone tell you to try harder when you are already giving it your best effort can be demoralizing and may make a person with depression feel their situation is hopeless.
There are many reasons depression develops and a person cannot necessarily control all of the risk factors involved. Once a person has become depressed, it’s not a matter of just “talking themselves out of” a low mood.
Like diabetes or hypothyroidism, depression can happen because the body is not making enough of substances it needs to function properly.1 A person with diabetes cannot will their body to make more insulin. Similarly, a person experiencing depression due to low levels of neurotransmitters can’t simply “think” themselves into having more.
Similar to how people with diabetes might need treatment with insulin, people who have depression need medical intervention and support. For some people, this may mean taking medications that address chemical imbalances that can contribute to the condition.
Your well-meaning exhortations to “cheer up” or “smile” may feel friendly and supportive to you, but they oversimplify the feelings of sadness associated with depression.
Just as someone who is depressed can’t force their brain to make more serotonin, they also can’t just “decide” to be happy. While there are certainly benefits to practicing positive thinking,2 it’s not enough to cure someone of depression.
“But You Don’t Look Depressed!”
“People who need help often look like people who don’t need help,” said American author Glennon Doyle. In other words, how a person appears on the outside does not necessarily reflect how they feel on the inside. This is true of many mental illnesses, but also chronic illnesses and conditions that are sometimes deemed invisible.
It’s not uncommon for people with depression and anxiety to try very hard to “put on a good face” and hide how they really feel from others.
They may be embarrassed, confused, guilty, ashamed, or afraid of what would happen if other people found out that they were depressed. They may worry that they will be seen as incompetent at work or as a parent, or that their spouse, family, and friends will stop loving them. These thoughts can become very intense and, in fact, are characteristic of depression itself—even though they don’t reflect reality.
Just because someone who is depressed tries to cover it up, it doesn’t mean they want to be dismissed when they do choose to open up about how they really feel. It takes courage to speak openly about the pain they feel. If someone responds with doubt or disbelief, it may make them feel like talking about their depression is not safe.
“It Can’t Be That Bad” or “It Could Be Worse” or “You Think You Have It Bad. . .”
When you’re talking to a friend who is depressed or going through a difficult time, resist the temptation to compare pain. Remember that pain (emotional and physical) is not only subjective but relative.
People with depression also lack the internal resources needed to cope with stress in an effective and healthy way.4 To you, an event or situation that constitutes a minor annoyance or inconvenience may feel like an insurmountable obstacle to your loved one with depression.
What someone’s life looks like on the outside doesn’t always reflect, or change, how they feel on the inside. Depression doesn’t need a justification. The experience is highly personal, and even if you care about someone and want to help, be aware that you can never know for sure how it feels to be them.
Maybe a person’s life could be worse, but depression isn’t about how bad things are—it’s about how bad they feel for that person at that moment.
Avoid making comparisons or staging a “competition” for who feels the worst. Doing so isn’t helpful and can make a person with depression feel that you’re minimizing their experience or not really listening to what they’re telling you.
“It’s All in Your Head” or “It’s Your Fault”
While a deficiency of mood-regulating substances is technically occurring in the mind, the phrase “all in your head” tends to be dismissive. People who hear the phrase may also feel attacked, as though they are being accused of “making it up” or lying about how they feel.
Furthermore, depression very often is not just in someone’s head but in their body as well. There are many physical symptoms of depression, including chronic pain, which are very real. Depression is a medical condition that can’t be expected to improve without treatment.
Depression is not a condition someone chooses to have, and while researchers don’t understand all the potential causes, they know that there are many factors.
One factor believed to play a significant role in depression is genetics. Some environmental factors may also play a role, perhaps by triggering an underlying inherited vulnerability to depression.
As with genetics, people can’t always control environmental triggers such as the type of home environment they grew up in. It’s well known that people who experienced trauma or abuse in childhood are at an increased risk for depression later in life.
There are some theoretically modifiable risk factors and lifestyle changes that can have an impact on symptoms,5 but simply telling someone with depression to “get out more” or recommending lifestyle changes they may not be prepared for can also be unhelpful. The symptoms of depression (such as fatigue and lack of motivation) can make mental and physical activity overwhelming and exhausting.
When someone is depressed, they may carry feelings of guilt and shame. They may feel that they are a burden to the people in their lives, and these feelings can make depression worse and may even lead to suicidal thoughts or self-harmingbehaviors.6
Minimizing the pain of another person is not helpful and, for people who are dealing with depression, can be very hurtful and harmful.
When you’re caring for (and about) someone who is depressed, you may say hurtful things when you are feeling frustrated or worried. If you find yourself thinking “who cares?” when you’re listening to a loved one, recognize that it might be a sign you are burnt out.7
You need to take care of your own emotional and mental health before you can help someone else with theirs. If you are feeling frustrated, irritated, or helpless, check-in with yourself and make sure that you have the support you need.
“You Don’t Think About Anyone But Yourself”
It may seem, at times, like someone who is depressed is very preoccupied with their own life (or, more specifically, their own thoughts) but that doesn’t make them selfish. Implying that a person with depression doesn’t care about other people provides no comfort and only fuels feelings of blame, shame, and guilt.
“I Don’t Understand”
Even if you have experienced clinical depression yourself, your experience may be different from someone else’s. If you’ve never had depression, it may be hard for you to empathize. In either case, if someone you love is depressed, the best thing you can do is be open and willing to learn.
Rather than giving up on a conversation by saying “I just don’t understand”—or saying you do understand when you really don’t—start by reassuring your loved one that you care about them.8
If you are struggling to understand what they need, be honest. Calmly explain, then be patient and ready to listen.
“This Too Shall Pass” or “Let It Go”
While this may be true, a person who is depressed may not have the perspective necessary to entertain the idea—let alone believe it. Platitudes, clichés, and vague statements don’t offer much for someone to hold on to in terms of hope.
A person who is depressed may have a hard time envisioning the future because they are overwhelmed by the present. It’s also not easy to “let go” or “escape from” the past, especially for someone who experienced loss or trauma.
You may feel like you’re offering hope by saying that, eventually, things will get better—but a person who is depressed may be frustrated wondering how long they will have to wait.
Instead of pushing them to focus on the future or forget about the past, just do your best to be present with them at the moment. Just sit with them and try not to worry about saying the right or wrong thing: You may find the most helpful thing you can do is to listen.
The reason DBT works for so many individuals who struggle BPD is because the founder/creator of DBT suffered from BPD herself …
‘I Was in Hell’ — She learned the central tragedy of severe mental illness the hard way, banging her head against the wall of a locked room.
Marsha Linehan arrived at the Institute of Living on March 9, 1961, at age 17, and quickly became the sole occupant of the seclusion room on the unit known as Thompson Two, for the most severely ill patients. The staff saw no alternative: The girl attacked herself habitually, burning her wrists with cigarettes, slashing her arms, her legs, her midsection, using any sharp object she could get her hands on.
The seclusion room, a small cell with a bed, a chair and a tiny, barred window, had no such weapon. Yet her urge to die only deepened. So she did the only thing that made any sense to her at the time: banged her head against the wall and, later, the floor. Hard.
“My whole experience of these episodes was that someone else was doing it; it was like ‘I know this is coming, I’m out of control, somebody help me; where are you, God?’ ” she said. “I felt totally empty, like the Tin Man; I had no way to communicate what was going on, no way to understand it.”