As someone who has had my own struggles around depression and alcohol abuse, it saddens me to hear of others who have lost touch with themselves enough to commit suicide. Everyone is talking about Robin Williams’ apparent suicide today. And I thought it might be a good time to share my experience with depression.
When I decided to take medication for depression I felt a measure of shame; as if I was weak, or that I should be able to fix myself- I’m a yogi, I should be able to meditate myself out of this ‘funk’ or do heart opening poses to help. When discussing how I felt with a medical professional I was told to look at my lifestyle. I blew up: I do yoga every day, meditate every day, read spiritual and self-empowering books all the time, eat healthy, don’t drink or take drugs. What more can I do?? The fact is, though, that depression has been with me from a very early age. As a teenager I frequently thought about death. This carried on in a less active way into adulthood. When I was drinking there were many times I woke up to a heavy heart; not because of what I had done the night before, but because I woke up again. I felt empty, alone, reckless and damaged. I felt unlovable and certainly felt no love or respect for myself. I didn’t really care about myself even on the most superficial level. Quitting drinking certainly sent me on the path to healing. Taking up yoga and finding spirituality grounded me more, helped me to see my own worth and the worth in the life I was leading. But I still struggled. There was still a chemical imbalance no matter what I did to help myself. So I turned to medication. And was ashamed. I felt weak. But you know what? After I started taking them the feeling of a black hole inside of me disappeared. I still felt sadness, felt empathy, happiness in a normal way (which I feared I wouldn’t). I felt normal. This is my story of depression. I don’t think it’s unusual, or even a severe case. But maybe it can help someone to normalize their own feelings or the feelings of someone in their life. There’s no shame is feeling or in helping yourself.
There are risk factors and warning signs of suicide. The following graphics are concise and useful if you know someone who is suffering. This information and more is found here: http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/ispi/FacultyandStaff/risk-factors-and-warning-signs.cfm