Depression creeps in setting our emotions on fire and undermining wills to face another day. Homelessness and hopelessness are neighbors and hover like storm clouds. No joy in the prospects but the mental view can change if we take the time to recognize what is really going on here.
The mind has the ability to bounce back through tough times when you are at your wits end and no apparent end is in sight for all your troubles. The major link mentioned but not vocalized enough are the mental concerns a person faces when they are under deep anguish. When there appears to be no way out the mind's defense is to give up or go out swinging. Sinking deeper the mind can make us think there is no hope and the only way out is one final act.
Does the mind instantly go to violence or are there other preventatives? I had the opportunity to speak with a few folks who were kind enough to let me into their world for a few moments. Fearing the unknown, not wanting to live trapped in their own minds and seeking help was a sadly palpable mixed bag of reality that can serve as hope as each of these men and women I spoke to say they do want to live.
Some responses are graphic names withheld for their privacy and respect.
"Honestly I wanted to take my head and smash it against a wall until it burst open. I don't care about the pain 'cause the pain inside is worse and I don't care anymore. Bad days, good days, some days I don't know but I'm still here I guess. I had a good lunch yesterday."
"I was sitting in a chair one day and things got to me so bad - I started cutting my wrist and before I knew what happened my hand was hanging back and it wasn't until my mom came in screaming did I know how bad it was. I'm still sad, real sad, but I ain't gonna cut myself this week."
"Tried killing myself three times and each time I suffered broken limbs. Last time I lost two toes and now I'm blind in one eye. Pushed some guy for no good reason out of a grocery line and I'm not sure what will happen tomorrow. I don't wanna die but I don't know how to live either."
"I had a good day today but I watched the news and now I'm mad again. I sleep all day and wake up mad again and I don't know why."
"I got fired from my job two years ago and had and idea to go blow up the place but then what would I do, maybe if there is a next time I won't care but my family will be sad, guess I would be sad too. No one should live like this."
"We saw her slipping away from us but we stayed away hoping she would just get better."
"I got my husband into a program but after two days he stopped going. Said no one wanted to listen to him. He had that problem growing up, no one would take the time to sit and listen. Instead everybody tried telling him what to do as if there was an instant magic people. It doesn't work that way and I am doing all I can to be by his side. Marriage is better or worse. Our rough patch is terrible some days but I love him and he still says I love you to me. Means something you know?"
Real emotion, real feelings, real people. All agree they needed something to stabilize them, whether professional help, medication or both. You can't just tell someone who is having a bad life to get over it and you can't predetermine who will strike and when. Nor can you ignore the facts which are mental illness is not only relevant but prevalent in our society. Chemical imbalance or learned behavior running free is not the answer because unchecked leads to catastrophe. We also cannot discount overall circumstantial depression from a barrage of circumstances. Environmental behavior is learned. Babies do not come out of the womb wielding machetes and machine guns. The seed is planted whether their actions are ignored and left unchecked becomes the issue of the masses when someone sprays a barrage of bullets over a crowd or sets fires to act out the anger.
Another sobering fact is for some even with medication and support they fight every minute of every day. The one size fits most routine for categorizing mental illness is not helping anyone so don't fool yourself. It sweeps under the rug the anguish and grief seeing loved ones spiraling out of control and feeling the walls getting smaller around them unleashing mental into physical violence and self-affliction. Mental anger and resentment often presents itself as retaliation and calculated violence and wonton callousness as the mind turns blank or grey at a lack of being able to figure things out amicably.
Is that the real issue when illegal weapons of mass destruction can get into the hands of the highest most desperate of bidders? Or is it really a greater fear, one of not being able to control oneself and not knowing how to deal with what's going wrong within the mind. When something tragic happens the first response always seems to be the world is going crazy but isn't the world made up of people with real heartbeats, feelings and problems. We also tend to concentrate on the violent games and television programs as an outlet. The real lives of whatever validating moods and escalating conduct as normal and it throws away common sense and reason as if revenge is the desensitizing solution and will make the slate clean.
In none of these scenarios do these individuals seem happy after the behavior is carried out as the quick fix has alluded them. One simple reason: you can't fill a clean plate with garbage and expect a gourmet meal. Giving a broad eye view to the real issues of mental health can be disheartening and downright overwhelming but it can also embolden those who want to help with the many challenges associated with mental wellness. Those facing crisis are not instantly throwing up their hands in defeat and it takes grueling hard work to win the battle. Hours of news footage does not increase our awareness necessarily but it seems to inspire moods of change for a nugget of time.
Seek real life solutions:
- Learn about symptoms of mental issues and disorders
- Find a local mental health treatment center
- Share with a friend or family member what you are going through
- Don't allow flames to turn into uncontrollable forest fires. Talk about your feelings
- Learn how to help without scolding and lecturing
- Know the difference between feeling sad which can be situational verses being depressed which has long range emotion linked to it
- understand the problem before trying to solve it - deep depression is based largely in part on raw unhealed feelings
- Unusual sleeping habits not associated with long work shifts or physical exertion
- Social withdrawal
- Excessive fear and anxiety
- Dramatic change in eating habits
- Hard time dealing with everyday problems
- Emotions from high to low
- Suicidal thoughts
These are only a few symptoms please review your daily activity if you feel any number of these and do not feel ashamed to ask a friend or family member for help monitoring changes.
There is help and people who want to try and make your right now better.
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Crisis Text Line: 741741 (Deaf and Hard of Hearing will greatly benefit from this)
National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI): 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National helpline: 1-800-622-HELP (4357)
The real question is, is it worth it to you to get involved and help the ones you love so that they know you are there for them. Do not forget yourself in the process or no one wins. Caregivers and other support can get weary at the prospect of trying to help with chronic issues. You think this will be a brief effort and find out there is a long haul. I see courage nearly every day. Privileged to witness change through challenge in working and volunteering alongside those in the Deaf community. One thing giving reflection is the positive reinforcing mantra the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford Connecticut uses and I absolutely love seeing it every time I visit the campus. It simply says 'All Ways Able'. We do have the ability for real change and living fulfilling lives. One hour, one minute at a time.
Today as I was in the middle of writing this article I ran into a woman who is having a real struggle securing work. Life has not exactly worked out as planned. Three hours a week is all she can seem to get and she runs between several agency offices trying to get paperwork signed just to qualify food stamps. She does not fit the social standard of poverty and bleakness, she was affluent. A Caucasian woman educated with a Bachelor's degree and she is struggling. It's not the typical statistic and the reality is she is fighting to stay positive refusing to give up. I applaud her.
A popular saying is you have to be in it to win it.
What is your role in it.
Until next time~