With the unfortunate passing of public figures, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, depression has become a hot topic. We see two celebrities, who from the outside had what society tells us will make us “happy” and feel “fulfilled”: success, money, and fame. Unfortunately, society doesn’t often tell us the price of those things.
I posted a few blogs during Mental Health Awareness month which all shared a common theme. They looked deeper into stigmas of mental health and broke down the scientific components of brain injuries and diseases. Sometimes, someone can have everything that would normally make them feel happy and fulfilled, but within their brain there is a disconnect. No matter what they do or have, their brain is sick. Maybe there is a chemical imbalance which tortures them constantly or maybe their brain isn’t producing enough serotonin. In these cases, it’s imperative to not only “check on your strong friend” (as the now viral slogan states), but implore them to seek professional help.
It’s misleading to tell people, “Oh, if you were only more grateful”, “If only you fostered more meaningful relationships”, “You just need to be more zen”, it’s misleading to tell people if only they were X they would find peace. It’s not helpful to tell people whatever YOU think would make YOU happy will cure their depression. Money and fame may not be the answer but solitude and meditation isn’t a cure all either. I’ve seen so many posts use celebrity suicides as an example of why money doesn’t make you happy. And that is true, but, telling people if only they were more grateful they wouldn’t be depressed is not only not true, it’s judgemental as well. Nouveau Hippies like to throw around buzz words like mindfulness, gratitude, and meaningful but NOT ALL DEPRESSIONS ARE THE SAME. If someone has a neurological disorder and you blow their disorder off by telling them they just need to be more grateful for what they have or foster more meaningful relationships, you may do more harm then good. They may feel very grateful and feel ashamed and guilty for still being depressed. It’s important to keep a positive attitude but sometimes it’s best to redirect those suffering from depression to a professional. Someone who understands brain disorders and who can properly diagnose their patient and explain what is going on with their brain. Stigmas attached to mental illnesses and fear of prescription medicine can be two huge deterrents for those considering seeking help. Keep these things in mind also.
When the world learned of the passing of comedic giant, Robin Williams, we all wondered ‘How could someone who had it all, who spent years making all of us laugh, who seemed so happy kill themselves?’ A nouveau hippie or your favorite Facebook zen master may toss out a ton of buzzwords to politely blame him for his depressive state. Many won’t bother to look into the science behind some forms of depression.
Though they sound good and look pretty: Buzzwords don’t cure depression. Robin Williams was depressed but whyyyyy was he depressed and suicidal? Not because he wasn’t grateful enough, not because he wasn’t mindful enough, not because he wasn’t grounded in the present but because he was suffering from an incurable brain disease! You can’t fight that kind of battle with buzzwords! Protein deposits in his brain, known as Lewy Bodies biologically altered his brain function. This changed his mood, his behavior, his ability to function as he had in the past. His wife blames his disease, Lewy Body Disease, for his death.
It is important that we open the doors to talk about mental health without the stigma and without the shame. It is important to have conversations without needing a celebrity death to remove the taboo of prompting the discussion. It is important to be aware of how brain injuries and chemicals can affect and alter our personalities, regardless of what we have or do. It is important to note that sometimes, the depression is really beyond our control. It is important to realize that mental health is an essential part of overall health. It is important to focus on the WHOLE and not just what people can see. Physical exercise is incomplete without conditioning your mental as well. Be just as concerned with your mental stamina as you are with your physical strength. I, as a spiritual wellness blogger, will certainly argue that by first addressing your spiritual and mental health, physical health will follow.
My Aunt Pattie has been battling cancer for five, long years and still finds ways to laugh in the face of cancer and tell her doctors she will beat this nasty disease!! At her most recent appointment, her new doctor told her that positive attitude will do more for her than many medicines will.
I am praying for all who are searching for the light not realizing that they are the light they seek. May God reveal your strength and His grace. God bless you all.