Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mental Illness & Health: Take Two

Warning, as you might have guessed by the post title, this post has nothing to do with the fun folly of jewelry and everything to do with life. So, if you are still with me – thanks! Yesterday, thanks to Finn Harries of British YouTube JacksGap fame (yes, I said YouTube -- I am old; but I am not dead!), I came across this TED presentation. If you aren’t familiar with TED, you might want to take a minute or twenty and Google them to learn a bit more. Go ahead; my feelings won’t be hurt if you do it now. I’ll wait until you come back.

This presentation by Kevin Breel carries a strong and powerful message in just a few very short minutes. It goes something like this: we as humans need to acknowledge that depression is very real and in acknowledging and understanding that, work to remove the stigma associated with the disease. Globally and even in my little world, as part of depression, suicide is also very real. A very dear friend who shared my life for more years than I can count, shockingly, took his own life while in his 70s. Last year, my mom at the age of 89, attempted suicide; and my oldest niece, in her early 40s, also attempted later that year . And, true confessions time, I had strong thoughts of suicide in my early-30s. Fortunately, for me, I made the right call to a friend who made one call that started me on a long journey with a caring psychiatrist – treatment that led to a six-year psychoanalysis.

Am I cured of my depression today? Honestly – no. I am one of millions of people who live with chronic depression and over the years I have learned to manage it. However, it is still something that is hard for me to admit and talk openly about – from where I sit there is still a strong negative response among people in general when they hear the words depression and mental illness. So, for me, until recently it’s just been easier to keep it to myself or keep it within a very small circle of trusted loving friends.

While it is a challenging topic to broach, as I grow older, I strongly believe that the topic has to be talked about – no matter how uncomfortable it makes me or you feel. So, that being said, I do hope you will take ten minutes and watch Kevin being very candid about his depression and his battle with thoughts of suicide. And, then, if you are so inclined, share the YouTube video with others in your circle. The first step in changing how people feel about an uncomfortable topic is through awareness and education – talking about it openly and honestly is the beginning, the baby-step. For me, and I hope for you, this is a good place to start.