When someone dies by suicide, condolences pour in both online and offline. People grieve the loss of the deceased individual via statements like, "If only they had reached out to me before taking this step, I would have helped them." Unfortunately, this is untrue. It is trendy to pay lip service to mental health (or the lack thereof). Whether it's organizations or individuals, #MentalHealthMatters as long as it doesn't inconvenience anyone. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
Depression often makes me want to do nothing. Whether it's due to demotivation, apathy, fatigue, or despair, I only want to sleep as much as possible. When I know in my gut that I need the rest, I sleep and feel better the next day. But I usually fight the urge to do nothing because giving in to it makes my depression worse. This seems to be a common issue for depressives, and knowing my reasons may help you figure out yours.
Of late, life has become pretty humorless. I don't find anything funny; on the contrary, I cringe at jokes that get laughs out of most people. If others' jokes have this effect, it's a given that I cannot see the funny side of things myself. And to think I used to be a mischievous twentysomething. Well, my grim outlook and lack of a sense of humor are more a result of depression than a side effect of growing up.
It's no secret that depression can affect your behavior -- that it can cause you to do and say things you wouldn't ever otherwise do or say. But when should you hold yourself accountable for bad behavior? And to what extent does mental illness excuse bad behavior? What kind of allowances should we expect in times of poor mental health, and what kind of allowances should we be prepared to grant to others? When is depression simply not an excuse?
The title of this blog is "Coping with Depression." In the past, I've used it to talk about ways to feel productive, beat procrastination, and improve relationships during a depressive episode. But the reality is that some days, "coping" just means surviving through the worst days. So, in honor of World Suicide Prevention Month, I would like to offer some simple tips on how to get through when "getting through" seems impossible.
Depression relapses happen. This is a truth that everyone in depression recovery must accept. But not all relapses are created equal, and there are things you can do to mitigate or even pre-empt a relapse before it becomes a mental health crisis. The key is learning how to recognize the earliest symptoms of depression relapse and treating them with your very own mental health first aid kit before more serious intervention is required.
We're taught that playing make-believe is for children -- that as adults, our feet should be firmly rooted in reality. But when dealing with reality becomes too much to handle, a little foray into childish fantasy can be incredibly comforting and very beneficial for our mental health.
The iceberg theory is a frequently cited model of behavior which states that a person's behavior can only be properly understood in the context of the factors that caused it. What a person does is "the tip of the iceberg"-- what we don't see are the emotional, social, cultural, and other factors that lie beneath the surface and cause that behavior.
Parenting is always a divisive topic. Every generation thinks it has found the trick to child-rearing, and every new parent vows to avoid the mistakes their own parents made in raising them. Attitudes towards discipline, attachment, nutrition, education, and play are constantly evolving, but one thing that never seems to change is the idea that crying is a bad thing and that the goal when a child cries is to get them to stop at any cost. This attitudinal hangover from the days when children were to be seen but not heard is incredibly worrying and something we should resist as parents in order to safeguard our children's mental wellbeing.
I missed my last scheduled blog post due to illness, but in truth, I was relieved because aside from the gastric flu wreaking havoc with my digestive system, I didn't have anything to talk about. I was (and am) doing well. When I sat down to write this week's piece, I had a similar bittersweet realization. This blog is "Coping with Depression," but at the moment, I don't feel as though I am "coping" with anything in particular. I am, for all intents and purposes, recovered from depression. Does that mean I should give up writing this blog? I think not.