There has been a lot of talk today on social media surrounding the death of Robin Williams. It’s tragic, untimely, and clearly a loss. The thing is, it’s not a stretch for many people to really identify with what he was going through. You see, many of you know that depression and the subsequent thoughts about suicide are more common than not.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that most people, at some point, have thought about ending their life.
Are you surprised? If so, it’s probably because depression is not something we talk about a whole lot. We tend to put on a happy face and try to pretend that we are bright and shiny. We pretend through the pain. We pretend while we are slowly dying inside.
We pretend until we feel like there are no other options.
We pretend while we are contemplating what seems like the only hope – to stop the pain forever.
We need to stop pretending and start talking, being authentic, and supporting each other.
We need ask messy questions and listen to scary answers.
We need to speak hope over those we love and get them connected with help. We need to be vigilant.
We are the hope for those we love who struggle with depression.
Here are 5 myths you need to know about depression:
Myth 1: Depression is obvious.
Reality: Depression can be insidious and invisible. It is not always obvious and can be difficult to spot. Because it grows slowly over time you may not realize your child or spouse is struggling with it until it is moderate to severe. Often they just feel “down” and don’t realize it is taking over their life.
Myth 2: Depression will go away on it’s own.
Reality: Depression can go away but very rarely will it be “cured” without some form of intervention. Research suggests that the most effective course of treatment is counseling and in some cases medication. Don’t wait too long to get help.
Myth 3: Talking about depression or suicide will make it worse.
Reality: This is the opposite of the truth. There is no evidence that asking someone about suicide will increase his or her thoughts about it. It is difficult for people to ask for help when they are depressed or feeling like they might hurt themselves. Asking them about it will give them an invitation to share how they are feeling and respond to an offer to help.
Myth 4: Depression is just the result of a loss.
Reality: Depression can be related to our circumstances, however it can also be much more complex. It’s important to get a therapist involved so that they can assess the cause of the depression and help form a plan for intervention.
Myth 5: It’s important not to overreact.
Reality: It’s important to react appropriately and sometimes that means reacting big time. If someone says they are depressed or considering hurting themselves, take them seriously and ask some questions. Make sure they get some help even if they seem reluctant.
Here are some questions to ask if you think that someone around you is struggling with suicide:
“Have you thought about hurting yourself?”
“Have you thought about hurting anyone else?”
“Do you have a plan?”
If your loved one answers yes to any of these, it’s important to get help for them immediately.