Depression. Hopelessness. Emptiness. Suicide. These words might not ring a bell to you, but to someone you know, this could be a way of life.
When any of these words are brought up, the first instinct for most is to run the other way because of our overexposure to antidepressant medication commercials and overall desensitization. The reality is that depression and suicide is real – it affects millions of people including family members, friends, and students. The problem is the lack of communication, the lack of knowledge. In one word: fear.
Depression is a form of paralysis and the power of language is the cure. People suffering from depression might not have the strength to “come forward,” but they do know and understand their own situation.
Elizabeth Wurtzel defined depression in Prozac Nation, “That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.”
Sometimes it’s hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, but the power of listening is amazing. Not everyone suffering from depression wants a psychologist as a friend, and honestly, the best thing to do is ask.
For those who don’t know, a slight sadness does not necessarily classify as clinical depression. Depression is a “whole-body” illness that affects every aspect of a person’s life. For friends and family, it’s almost as bad.
To bring this matter closer to home, the recent death of a former VSU student has opened the eyes of our community to underlying issues. Everyone’s emotional state is different and so is their response. Unfortunately, a loved and respected friend lost his life.
There is no surefire way to avoid a tragic end for someone, but simply allowing a friend or family member to open up to you could make a world of difference. This sounds simple enough, but it could be the hardest concept to grasp.
Respect. Love. Care. Life. These words can bring someone hope.