Saturday, December 10, 2005

How what you say/do affects others..... (Part I)

Is it affects or effects? I can't exactly recall. (take a look at the title of this particular blog and you'll know what I'm talking about)

Either way, today I wasn't going to write - just been sorta bummed recently. With the post-marathon/half-marathon schedule behind me, I need that "something" to look forward to. That marathon or another distance run of some sort. I've become so engulfed in promoting the cause of mental health awareness/removing the stigma of mental illness that I see each distance run (and training run for the distance run competition) as an opportunity to do something that not just betters myself, but more importantly humankind.

Having battled and overcome depression, I see it now as a responsibility to talk about it. I know there are nay-sayers out there. I have heard them, I have seen them, I have read about them. But they don't know how I felt - nor how other people who have suffered or do suffer from depression feel/felt like. To quote Peter Parker's uncle, "With great power, comes great responsibility."

I have heard it said that "Knowledge is power." Well if that is the case, then the knowledge that I have - not that I necessarily wanted that knowledge - but the knowledge that I have of suffering from depression - well it is now a "power" that I've been given. Because hopefully you, the person reading this, has no idea what it's like to have the symptoms of depression. Hopefully you never do. But as a person who rode the gates of hell for 100 days; I can't sit here and let people think that depression isn't real. As a result, it is my responsibility to tell you - the person who cares enough to read this entry - what it is like.

Essentially all of this - my "coming public" with having overcome depression - all stems from a very popular naysayer and a person whose ACTING talents and abilities I respect dearly - that of Tom Cruise. However, to sit at home and listen to Mr. Cruise talk on the "Today Show" about psychiatry not being real - how depression/mental illnesses can be cured by fruit - well, I don't know about you guys, but I actually tried St. John's Wort (it is supposed to work) and even fruits - but I wasn't feeling any better - that's for certain. So in reality, the only fruits that I can see as working - are those that they give you at talk-therapy sessions and/or ones that are "laced" with anti-depressants.

So because of that knowledge and the knowledge of reading that people who were suffering and overcoming mental illness stopped taking them based on Mr. Cruise's comments - well, I guess it was the fact that the "human dignity" of a person was being taken away that caused me to well............"act." See, when you tell someone that how they feel isn't real - you remove their human dignity. It's almost like telling someone who is about to jump off a bridge to well.......jump. Not cool.

I have a shirt that Reese Butler, an acquaintance of mine who started up www.hopeline.com in memory of his wife Kristin Brooks - who died as a result of post-partum depression - that reads something along the lines of "Hope" - Don't take it away; it may be all that someone has left.

When I was depressed (between March 2001 - June 2001) but didn't know it - I can't even put it into words how I felt. I may just quote Abraham Lincoln, whose melancholy (what "depression" was called at his time when he suffered from depression - oh yes, one of the most popular and successful president's in the history of this great nation - he suffered greatly from depression) caused him to say, "I am the most miserable man living." I can honestly say that's how I felt. In fact, miserable would make me seem to "happy."

However, come that day in June when I took the online anonymous exam at www.depression-screening.org and found out that I had "symptoms of major depression and should contact a professional immediately;" I felt a HUGE weight fall off my shoulders. It was one of those, pardon my French, "HOLY SHUGAR! IT HAS A NAME!!!!!!!!!!! I CAN GET BETTER!" moments. Maybe you have never had one of those - well, if you had, I'm glad to see that you're reading this and feeling up to reading it - and if you have never had one of those moments, well let's pray that you never do - that's when I got my "hope" back and hopes up.

To be able to e-mail my doctor and tell her how I was feeling; to get medicated, schedule an appointment with a talk therapist; to be able to research something that no I couldn't see - but I knew it "had a name" - that was getting my hope back. That was like God Himself not just gently taking me from the bridge where I was about to jump, but bringing me into his loving arms. Yeah; it's easy to say, "he's crazy" or "she's nuts" because they act a certain way. But look at it this way, instead of making fun - find out the facts. In fact, I hear there's a good website out there (www.runoverdepression.com) where you can find out more about mental illnesses. *winks*

The funny thing is well you know what? I am crazy. I am crazy for life. I've never felt so much love for anything as I do right now for the simple fact that I am still here on earth. The dark days are over; and if they do come back (there is a chance they will if you've suffered from depression once); I'll know what it is and know how to "control" it.

Winston Churchill called his depression the "black dog" - because even though the dog could sink it's fanks into you; it could still be cajoled and controlled, and after all - it was only.......... a dog.

Which leads me to my last comment for this post - I'll get to more later. Sir Winston Churchill; essentially the leader who kept the allies in the war until almost 1942 (remember the US didn't get involved until December 7, 1941 - the war was already raging in Europe for 2 1/2 years at that point) - the gentleman and great leader who would look around his beloved England and see rubbish, rubble, death and destruction from a very powerful Nazi German side - told himself and his people that they would overcome, they would labour on, and they would win the battle if they stuck in there. Had it not been for Churchill, England would have been conquered by Nazi Germany and Hitler's command of Europe would have almost been guaranteed. My point in all this? Churchill as well harbored thoughts of suicide and he too battled depressed.

So next time you think depression isn't real; the next time that you think people who are overcoming depression can't add to society - realize this - if it weren't for Churchill and Lincoln; two of the greatest leaders in the history of humankind - the freedoms that I have, you have and everyone else in the 1st world has - probably wouldn't exist. Ridiculous you say? Try fact.

No one appreciates another chance at life as much as someone who has gone through hell. My friend Brian has a quote in his AIM account reading, "~Iron has to go through Fire to become Steel. If you're going through hell, keep going." I went through hell; Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Churchill all went through hell; we all kept going - you can too.

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