Saturday, August 16, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by StilettoLova with 0 comment

Depression: Why Many of Us Just Aren't Seeking Treatment


Depression: Why many of us just aren't seeking treatment| Yes, We Rise

He was Mork from Ork... He was Patch Adams... He was the Genie from Aladdin... and so many more endearing characters. Now, he's gone.

Our Robin Williams left us this week as a result of suicide by asphyxiation. A man beloved by millions, Robin Williams left the world with a legacy of laughs, positive memories, humanitarian efforts, and also a struggle with substance abuse and depression. Somehow, he'd decided (either consciously, or unconsciously) that the weight of loneliness and isolation was too much to bear.

Consciously, he could have just been tired of feeling what he was feeling. Unconsciously, he could not help what he was feeling though his intelligence reflected the opposite. How does one who is loved and adored by many feel alone and drown in despair?

I know what that is like....


In my quest to find answers about my own experiences with depression, its triggers, the physiology, its manifestations, I sought treatment. As a sexual abuse survivor, it was important for me to find out why I couldn't commit to relationships, jobs, myself. It was crucial that I find out the reasons why alcohol was important to me, why promiscuity was my release, and anger was my drug of choice.

Suicide was a constantly viable option for me. I relied on it as an escape route if my final moment of "screw it all" came. Literally, there would be days where I would question whether I could really handle certain stressful situations, and if, in the final analysis I determined that I couldn't, I could always resort to the comfort of ending my life.

I secretly carried around the desire to die since the age of 10. I was bullied in elementary and junior high school. I wanted to die. I got a "B" on my report card instead of the "A" I was hoping for. I wanted to die. I argued with my mother. I wanted to die. If I couldn't fit in with the "cool kids", I wanted to die. Many times, I excelled, was appreciated, accepted and applauded, and yet I always felt like I was never good enough, which made me want to die. Rebellion empowered me to some degree, but acting out and its consequences, again, made me want to die. It was only after a second near-death experience in my mid-twenties due to my failed marriage (I won't open up about how it happened here), that I decided to seek treatment.

Depression and the black community| Yes, We Rise  (John Wilson's death)I recall an article in The Washington Post Magazine with the wife of former DC Council Chair John A. Wilson, Bonnie Wilson. In May of 1993, Wilson hanged himself in his home, leaving a legacy of long service to the citizens of Washington D.C. He was a fiery, yet committed son-of-a-gun back then, and he gave our then-mayor, Marion Barry, a run for his money. In the article, his wife recalled how her husband often struggled with bouts of chronic depression, and his refusal to seek treatment for years, for fear of being labeled "crazy". Wilson, finally sought medical treatment and counseling for his depression, but only six months before he died.

The article changed my view of myself, and made me wonder if there was a chemical imbalance that fueled my struggles and inabilities to cope. After undergoing a battery of psychological testing, physicals, and counseling, it was determined that my bouts were not of a clinical nature, but more as a result of Post Traumatic Stress due to the sexual abuse I'd experienced as a child. I had been given the option of low-dose medication, but instead opted for Behavior Modification Coaching, which along with a strong spiritual foundation, has proven invaluable. However, I had to GET to that point where I was fearless enough to seek treatment.

In the Black community, slavery left an indelible mark on our past and future generations. Slavery spawned secrecy, hiding, and shame. We simply don't want to air our "dirty laundry".

"Therapy is for White folks." How many times have we heard that?

"I can't afford a doctor laying me on his couch, only to tell me I'm crazy and give me a pill." How many times have we heard that?

How many times have we watched a family member or friend "going through"?

How many times did you say or hear, "Oh, ain't nothing wrong with you", or "You'll be alright", or the classic, "Let go, and let God". Black folks just mistakenly think that they can pray away pain. Slavery taught us to rely on God when in pain and in times of struggle, but don't forget that prayer without works is dead. Though God does His best work in the impossible, He also gifted doctors with the ability to find out the causes of ailments and prescribe the necessary treatments, if needed.

Does God come in pill form? For many, He may.


When will we admit that Uncle Herb was drinking a fifth of cognac every day because he was abused as a child? When will we stop stepping over mounds of clutter and filth in our parents' homes, and accept the fact that they are hoarding because they are struggling mentally? When will be admit that Little Tiffany "can't get right" in school because of a physiological reason and may need medication? When will we stop calling Darnell crazy when he tries yet again to commit suicide? When will we ask why he's doing it? When will we admit to ourselves that that dark, desolate place with no light, sound, or color that we experience is because the acceptance, hugs, smiles, laughter, and beauty that we experience, we just cannot "feel"?

The answers lie in each individual. Robin Williams had a strong network of supporters around him, and had gone back into treatment in recent months - just like John Wilson. That tells me that with all of life's challenges and changes, we must be diligent and FEARLESS when it comes to our primitive survival as a human being. We cannot listen to the whispers of our demons (internally or externally). We must rely on intelligence and logic to be our guides. From a physiological point of view, it is often difficult for a person struggling with depression to recognize the signs. There are so many variations of the disease that medical attention is absolutely vital for an accurate diagnosis.

That is why it is critical to recognize some of the warning signs of depression:

  • Having conversations about death, dying, and wanting to kill themselves
  • Mood swings
  • Withdrawal
  • Losing interest in people, places, and things that they enjoyed
  • Discussions of hopelessness
  • Insomnia or constant sleeping
  • Reckless behavior (drug and/or alcohol abuse, promiscuity, crime, hoarding, fighting)
  • Many more unexplained and irrational thoughts and behaviors

Lovingly approach someone you fear may be struggling without judgement, to encourage them to seek treatment. Assure them that there is no shame in fighting for peace within, in fighting for their lives. Assure them that you will support their efforts confidentially. Let them know what you have observed and your genuine concern. Show them your love. Show them you care.

**Stiletto Lova**






Resources:

  • Contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). They help individuals in suicidal crisis and can direct you to the nearest suicide crisis center in your area.
  • For a list of Help Lines and Resources for Suicide and Depression Awareness, check out www.dbsalliance.org.

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