by: Minda Harts, Founder, The Memo
“Everyday something has tried to kill me and has failed.” - Lucille Clifton
Recently, I have read several posts that say, “Check on your strong friend.” While well intentioned, personally I don’t like language like this. It causes us to categorize people as strong vs. weak. When it comes to mental health, I don't think you can boil it down to such simplistic terms.
When I was 22, I attended a church service and the minister told me something. He prophesied that there is someone I know or that I would meet who, because of my support, would not commit suicide. I have never shared this story, but recently I felt the need to. I felt heavy when he said it, and I felt even heavier after. I didn’t “know” anyone in my life that was battling depression. Or so I thought. We often believe that depression has to look a certain way.
Depression and anxiety present themselves in various forms -- the ones we can physically see and those we can’t. To this day, I don’t know who that person is, but ever since that conversation, I have tried my hardest not to take anyone's feelings for granted -- to make time when people say they need me, and to make time when people's actions alone may suggest they need me.
Depression is said to be the number one misery - according to UCLA Health, having one depressive episode puts you at risk for having more throughout your life. For women, depressive disorders are found in one in four. There are one million suicides worldwide each year.
With all that is going on in the world, in our lives, and in our careers, Mental health is a conversation that we can’t avoid--we have to make it a priority. We can’t find the answers if we never talk about our problems. For those of us who might have loved ones that battle depression, it’s never helpful when we respond with phrases like “cheer up” or “snap out of it.” As well-intentioned as we might be, we must first listen to seek understanding.
The other day, I asked a loved one to promise me if at any time they felt like they don’t have any other options--they would tell me. The conversation opened up a special dialogue that I don’t think I have ever had. At the end of the conversation, I said, “I don’t know all the answers, but what I do know is if you ever feel this way, you don’t have to go through it alone, and I WON’T JUDGE YOU!" For anyone reading this, please don’t ever feel like you are alone. We need you. You have come this far, and if we can be a support system in any way, WE WON’T JUDGE YOU. Sometimes people just need to know they aren’t going through the battle alone.
Many of us deal with bouts of depression in a variety of ways and there is no one way to fight mental health. One size doesn't fit all. I do believe, though, that it starts with a conversation. I recently came across a few resources that may help you learn more about depression and its impact: The Depression Risk Assessment, Depression Quiz, and The Life Depression Quiz.
Lastly, please reach out and communicate your feelings because they matter.
If you or a loved one need help, you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Sending you lots of love!