Yes. We should.
❤️❤️❤️ My father killed himself a couple of years ago. Lovely post.
What would you advise for those of us who've never been seriously depressed? What should we say or do when someone is swamped by sadness? Is there anything others can do that might make a difference, even temporarily?
This made me think of Darkness Visible, a brilliant, difficult book that my independent study CW students were amazed by.
Hi Ramona, What a thoughtful and beautifully written post. I get very frustrated with the quick fixes I read about and the medications that will "fix" the problem. They aren't the answer. What is? I'd guess each person is different and that there is a no one size fits all solution, other than listening, being there, and loving as you say.
Thanks for sharing your post as well as the other. I'm so fortunate to have never suffered from depression, nor known of anyone I care about struggling with it.
This is right on time Mona. Thank you so much for speaking on this issue. My sister, Leslee, died almost a year ago at 61- suicide by alcoholism. She was deeply depressed and a practicing alcoholic and I'm not sure what came first. I only know I was powerless to help her and I miss her to my core. That darkness and hopelessness surrounds us all. Profound humility........
Thank you for writing this and sharing it with us, Ramona. Your description of your own depression, helped me to understand what it is like to suffer with such overwhelming pain that isolates us from others and from ourselves. I especially found this sentence confirming as to what it must be like: “We are a burden not just to ourselves but to everyone around us. Love (or the lack of love) has nothing to do with it. When we're in a depressed state we have turned inward and our demons have locked the door. We put on our outside face and pretend.”
My daughter died by suicide thirteen years ago at the age of 34. She had suffered from mania and depression since she was 18. That is a long time for such suffering. I know some of her pain, but will never know all of it because she would tell me and I have her journals. The pretending was especially hard for her because when she was well, she was so vibrant, fun, witty, and active. She lit up a room. Then, she would be hit again with that terrible heavy burden of depression while having to carry a load of being productive and pay her own way through life. If there is anything I wish I could have done for her, it is to have not have her suffer so. Her suicide was a shock because she was pretending so well at the time that all was well. It was a shock even as I lived in the shadow of the fear of it since her teens.
I don’t know if I will read Martha’s piece right now. I may come back to it. Your piece has touched me at the core. I do truly appreciate hearing of your own pain, but wish you had not had to suffer it and pray it never visits you again.
Thank you for this post, Ramona. So important. So difficult.
For some at least, hope may be found in the fact that there is actually NO PROOF at all that life is better than death. The very widely held assumption that death is a tragedy has no scientific basis, and is instead better described as a kind of almost religious belief constructed mostly from fear and our universally shared ignorance.
The "death is bad" assumption may be true. It may be false. The truth of the matter may be something beyond our ability to imagine. Who knows? Certainly not me. But....
The absence of any data about death, or any ability to arrive at a credible theory of death, does open the door to an opportunity that seems worth exploring.
Consider a three year old child. They know almost nothing about life. So they make up stories about it. What else can they do? If the stories the child creates are uplifting and an asset to their living, their stories are rational. In the absence of any data, the truth value of a story become irrelevant, and the value of a story arises instead from how well it can serve the living.
Example: Personally, I like the stories told by those who have had near death experiences. Many such subjects report that they liked "the other side" so much they were disappointed that they had to come back. Do investigate if you haven't already. https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/our-research/near-death-experiences-ndes/
Are these stories factually accurate representations of death? I have no idea. Do these stories prove anything one way or another? I don't see how they could. We won't get good answers from these questions, because they are the wrong questions. The right question would seem to be, do these stories help some people in their living? They pass that test for me.
When it comes to issues the vast scale of death, all of us are three year old children. So to the degree possible, let's embrace whatever happy stories we can make peace with, and try to be happy children.
Ramona, thank you for this piece. You are so right that there isn’t a simple cure or answer for debilitating depression. If there’s one thing it’s taught me - and my friend’s recent suicide bears this out - we teeter along an uncertain edge, not knowing, not being able to control how we’re treated or how we treat ourselves. Acceptance of that existential uncertainty has brought me more peace than anything else - and sparks my enduring anger against those in power who simply don’t care about the inner lives of others and assume everyone can be fixed. For me, moments of being or joy are to be treasured, because they are moments, not some constant state to be achieved. 🙏🏽
Totally agree with your last comments that mental health needs to be treated as any other health problem. As a therapist I can say that clinical depression is a truly horrible experience for the suffer and those that love them.
Someday, I will need to tell my grandchildren (my husband & I are raising) more details of their mother’s death. For now, I’ll continue to grieve, process & chase joy.
Ramona, you're not going to believe this. I also wrote about depression in August 2014 after Robin Williams' died. Thank you for this. It's an important topic. Here's my article: https://medium.com/@debbieweil/when-depression-creeps-in-like-the-fog-56e26954f8e1