Monday, November 20, 2006

Monumentally Self-Absorbed

In the last two weeks, I've had both a friend and an acquaintance check themselves in to hospital psych wards. Holy cow.

At first, I didn't think I'd ever known so many people with mental health issues before, but I later realized that no, I certainly have known plenty. However, they were mostly in denial, creating a very unclear situation.

In contrast, a psych ward check-in is certainly a clear indication that something serious is afoot. As I listened to my friend about how she felt, a few slow gears in my brain started to turn. I have a new lens with which to look over my past and realize that there are at least three people dear to me who have suffered depression in the last few years.

At various times, they described feeling unwell, lethargic or sad. So, I cheered them with funny stories, or created ludicrous solutions to the problems that made them laugh. Everyone has a couple of bad days now and then, right? And sometimes they didn't call, so I assumed they were busy, rather than unable to motivate themselves to pick up a phone. I didn't get it. I DIDN'T GET IT.

I was providing the kind of encouragement and support you give for a sprained ankle to people who were suffering something closer to paralysis.

I was just oblivious. I generally think everyone is just fine. Sure, we all have some bad days, but a couple of laughs, and we'll get past it. Depression, the serious stuff for which movie stars need fancy pills, was something I thought was pretty rare until not too long ago. At a mom's group gathering, several women were weighing the effects of their different medications. These were ladies I knew and respected, and they all had a meds regimen.

Could it be that a whole lot of folks are struggling? Uh, yeah.

I've reached out to two friends (and will see the third in a week) to say that I'm sorry I didn't see the depth of what they were or are facing, but I do now. I'm really sorry.

And if you need something amusing after this post, go create your portrait as a South Park character. Thanks to HBM for the link!


Mamacita Tina said...

I think I read somewhere that it is estimated that 25 percent of us suffer from some form of depression. It's a good idea to keep checking in with friends/family, you just never know.

Bob said...

Pretty deep.
Never learned that in school or college (should be taught). Thought everyone is innately cheerful and happy, as a result, never taught our children.
Now I know better.

Now back to my normal self, South Park's "make your character" is really cute.

Anonymous said...

When I think of how many people I know (IRL and online) who suffer from depression, it's astounding. I'm glad that most of them are open about it and getting help. I think that creates a virtuous cycle.

Tali said...

Great post. I have also found that it's easy to assume that others will reach out for help if/when they need it, but as you've pointed out, it can be the hardest to reach out at the times we need support the most.

Non-sequiter alert - it was great to see the pics of Rad Vid Mazurka. I'm sorry to have missed it, but I look forward to dancing with y'all again soon =)

Waya said...

Depression is a tough thing to deal with. It's good that they are checking themselves into the psych ward then taking the other approach, the S word.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you. I get so caught up in the daily minutiae, it's easy to forget a) our blessings b) the troubles of others.
Nice reminder that others won't always reach out - and we need to pull them into the light.