***Trigger warning: This post contains a detailed story of depression as well as symptoms of this condition, and of self-harming behaviour such as attempted suicide. Proceed at your own risk.
The world was shocked on the recent passing of Anthony Bourdain due to suicide and people couldn’t believe someone who has “extraordinary ability to connect with people” would take his own life just like that. In fact, he was laughing, smiling and full of personality even off camera just days before his suicide according to the people who cooked and served one of his final ‘Parts Unknown‘ meals. Overall, you couldn’t see any signs of depression.
Depression is a silent killer. One might seem always so bright and bubbly. Or look that they had a great life. Little did you know that deep inside they are silently asking for help.
My Battle with Depression
I’ve dealt with depression in high school, Bipolar Disorder Type I to be exact. What’s ironic is, I was known among my family and friends as a ray of sunshine. I was hyperactive, very talkative, and I love making people laugh. I did well in school and I was active in sports and clubs. Out of nowhere, I started to avoid everything and lose interest in the things that I enjoy. I even developed an eating disorder. Later on, I got into drugs and alcohol. I would skip my classes and one time got caught entering the campus drunk. All my grades dived down and I almost got kicked out.
I even tried taking my own life a few times. One of them was by taking medications that I have an allergic reaction to. When I started to feel like it’s already difficult to breathe I immediately took an anti-allergy to counter it.
I never mentioned this to anyone, at least the full details of it, until when I had my first visit to a psychiatrist. Little by little, we started working on helping me get better. Drugs were prescribed as I needed them. Mostly were mood stabilizers and a sleep aid to help me sleep since I’ve only been getting 3-4 hours per day.
I was told by a couple of friends to “get over it”, “it’s all in your mind” and to “snap out of it.” You can’t just snap out of it. This is not ‘acting’ like when the director says cut, everything goes back to normal. I wish it’s that easy. I wish I never had to go through this. No one does. Sadly, people expect there has to be a reason as to why I was feeling low and having a bad day when there wasn’t and I couldn’t explain why I felt the way I was feeling.
It was a long journey and I learned a lot from that experience.
Let’s differentiate Depression from Sadness…
Depression vs. Sadness
Depression is more than just feeling upset or sad – it is a state of low mood or loss of interest (in activities) that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being.. It rains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to do or cope with day-to-day living.
Although depression is often thought of as being in an extreme state of sadness, there is a wide difference between clinical depression and sadness. Sadness is part of being human, we feel sad whenever we encounter painful situations. Depression, it is a mental illness. A person with clinical depression may experience many more symptoms than having an unhappy mood and often finds no logical reason for his feelings.
Sadness is a temporal feeling that can be overcame once the problem has been resolved while depression lingers for weeks, months or even years. When we feel sad most of the time we can still cope with living but if a person is clinically depressed, he may feel overwhelmed and hopeless. Often described with words like “helplessness”, “abandonment”, or “feeling worthless”. A person may feel a complete lack of meaning in their life or no sense of purpose which in some cases lead to drug addiction, eating disorder or suicide.
How can you tell if a person is depressed?
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself when things aren’t going right
- Reduced sex drive, tiredness, loss of energy
- Appetite change – depression often causes decreased appetite and weight loss, but in some people it causes excessive eating.
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
What can you do?
Talk to them.
If you notice that a family member of a friend is showing any signs and symptoms above, talk to them. Tell them that you’re willing to listen. If they refuse, give it another try and assure them that you’re always free to talk whenever they’re ready.
Help them accomplish their ADL (activities of daily living).
Eating regularly, getting enough sleep, taking a bath, or doing exercise can help divert their attention.
Offer to do activities with them.
DISTRACTIONS. They need something that will not take up too much time, but long enough to refresh their minds. I suggest you try something that will get them moving. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins (aka ‘happy hormones’).
Get professional help
If all else fail, it’s time to seek professional help.
When to see a doctor?
If you notice anyone experiencing signs and symptoms of depression (FRAILT), encourage them to see the doctor as soon as possible. Depression symptoms may not get better on their own — and remember, depression may get worse if it isn’t treated. Untreated depression can lead to other mental and physical health problems or problems in other areas of our lives.
INFORMATION AND CRISIS INTERVENTION CENTER (ICIC) hotlines at:
Telephone No.: (02) 804-HOPE (4673)
0917 558 HOPE (4673) / (02) 211 4550
0917 852 HOPE (4673)/ (02) 964 6876
0917 842 HOPE (4673)/ (02) 964 4084