Anthony Bourdain, a journalist, traveler, and television host who got to see the world and eat some of the best foods. Kate Spade, a designer, a mother, a wife, a daughter, successful, intelligent, attractive. They both had loving families and extremely successful careers. Their suicides are shocking because to most of us, their lives seemed perfect. Their suicides are reminders that depression and mental health do not discriminate. Mental health can affect anyone and according to the World Health Organization, 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression.
22 suicides occur per day; That is almost one every hour.
Mental health has been a topic of discussion on the news lately, especially after a tragedy. People are asking for increased awareness, campaigns to reduce the stigma, and funding to increase mental health support. It seems, on the surface level, that mental health is finally getting the attention it deserves. When we really dig deep, however, it seems many people still hold the same judgments and opinions about what mental health is and isn’t. The reality is that the stigma of mental health exists on a much stronger level than people believe.
I constantly hear people say: “my family doesn’t think I’m really depressed” and “my family tells me to stop being dramatic” or “my friends tells me to just try to have fun”. These answers to someone’s admittance to depression is a way to distance themselves from the situation; a denial of sorts.
It can be difficult to admit that our friends, our mother, our daughter or our son, is suffering from depression. It’s difficult because we may have seen them in times of happiness, we may “know someone who has it worse” or we may have felt sad in the past and therefore think we understand what depression is. Mostly, it's because we don't want to accept that our loved ones are at risk of self-harm. There are many ways you can support your loved one when they confide in you and tell you they are depressed or considering suicide. This article titled Helping Someone with Depression discusses the signs of depression and provides with some guidelines to help you communicate with your loved one.
Depression is as real as diabetes. Anxiety is as real as high blood pressure. Bipolar disorder is as real as cancer and you get the gist. Just because you “can’t see it” doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Depression is debilitating, it holds you down, drains your energy, makes you cry, and does not let you escape. Depression is also high functioning, perfectionism and sometimes there is not “reason why”.
Depression can look like Kate Spade's bright and bubbly purses or Anthony Bourdain's constant smile and genius story telling on television. What a person chooses to demonstrate out to the world is not always an accurate depiction of what is going on in their minds. Their stories demonstrate what depression can look like to the external world. Unless we ask, we may not know. Take the time to reach out, officer support, and to truly listen to each other. When someone confides in you, try to listen and try to understand what they are saying.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255 and the Crisis Text Line is 741741.
Micheline Maalouf, M.S. is the founder and owner of Serein Counseling, LLC in Orlando Florida. She specializes in working with individuals who are dealing with anxiety including: generalized anxiety, social anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Micheline is certified in mindfulness and incorporates these practiced into all her sessions with clients to ensure they achieve the best results. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Call today for a free 20-minute consultation (407) 721-6453