Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Have you ever just had a wave of depression wash over you, for no apparent reason and very unexpectedly? Walking to my vehicle at the end of the day yesterday, I suddenly felt extremely down. I had to call a friend just to hear her voice, and I literally cried on the drive home.
Depression is something with which I am very familiar. I’ve struggled with it for years; the self-doubt, the self-deprecation, past regrets and failures occupying my mind and all that goes with it. I’ve been through years of therapy (which I desperately need to resume) to understand myself and the roots of these issues.
There’s a distinct difference between the blues and depression. My experience with therapy has given me at least a few tools to help handle depression. Not cure or stop it, of course, but at least how to deal with it. A big part of it is understanding the source of the depression, at least most of the time. I’ve written on this before and understanding at least helps me to deal with being depressed. I don’t know if this would be generally true for others, but I tend to live a lot in my head so finding a potential reason for depression at least gives me a fighting chance.
But when a wave of sudden depression washes over me, what should I do about it? A friend of mine tried very hard to convince me to go for a drive, or a walk, or something. She knows me well enough to know that driving is therapeutic for me. Often when depressed, I’ll go for long drives. Unfortunately, for some reason, today these blues sapped my energy pretty hard. It makes me feel bad knowing how hard she tried, but one of the problems with being depressed is that it is hard to motivate, even when you know it will help, and even when a good friend has asked.
For my readers who have friends who struggle with depression, please try to be understanding and patient with them. It’s sometimes difficult to do even what you want to do when you struggle like this, so please don’t take it personally if we bow out.
There are some things that help. Physical contact like hugs releases endorphins so you feel better, and believe it or not, hot showers create ions that also help fight depression. Personally, it also helps me to do something nice for somebody else. The funny thing is that my friend also suggested that I volunteer, specifically with some form of animal shelter so I can help walk the animals. But the blues were just too strong.
This post is itself very difficult for me to write. In fact, I probably owe you an apology because I feel as if I’m rambling and definitely below par with this, but this happens. There are days that we are all on our game, and others that we’re just not. Tonight, I’m not.
If you are one of those people who struggle with depression or the blues, please understand that you’re not alone. Several of my friends have recently been impacted by the suicide of a mutual friend of theirs, not somebody that I had ever met or known, but it’s interesting that many of my friends have all known him. I’m told that he had recently lost a girlfriend, and I certainly understand what it’s like to lose somebody important and the damage this can do to one’s life.
I’ve been where this person was. I’ve held the knife, considered driving off of the bridge and chosen the poison. These have happened for me, personally, when I’ve reached the depths of despair that I felt as if there was no way out, and it would never get better. I don’t know if this is where this young man was, and I don’t know what held me back, but I can tell you a couple of things. First, it’s only temporary. The nature of life is change, while the nature of death is eternity. Things will change in time if we are patient, as they are in the process of changing for me right now (at least in some aspects of my life). The second thing that I know is that suicide never affects just one person. It ripples out and touches far more lives than imaginable. I have never met this young man, but his death has affected me. If you’re feeling like I was today, find a way. Ride it out, do something to feel better, but if you give it time, it’ll get better. It really will.