Phone Home!

Why is it when we are down in the dumps we want to isolate ourselves into a corner and have our pity party? Friends will ask us to dinner and we will dutifully decline as if our sadness is a contagion we don’t want others to catch.

What purpose does isolating ourselves from others serve? Will being alone make us better? Are we afraid of being with others that they will see us as flawed? Are we that worried about putting on a front so that others think everything is fine and dandy?

When are we going to bring mental illness, depression and anxiety out of the closet?

No one wants to talk about or share their struggles with depression. Why? Why is chronic sadness something to be embarressed about?

Why my youngest child was in middle school, one of her best friends committed suicide. He said goodbye to his friends at school, hugged them then went home, plugged in his earpods and shot himself. He came from a good, loving family. There was no note. No one, to this day, even knew he was sad, or lonely, or depressed. If he had reached out to just one person, he might still be with us.

Is it so important to hide our sadness that we kill ourselves instead? Is mental illness worth dying for? How many tragic mass shootings have taken place because the shooter was mentally ill. Why would someone want to inflict pain on others instead of find a cure for their own pain?

Are doctors these days trained to deal with mental illness? I wonder what my doctor would think if I showed up at her office and said I was having thoughts of killing myself. I, of course, am not, but how do doctors react when someone presents with depression and anxiety and thoughts of suicide? Are they trained to prescribe the right medications?

Suicide is a final act of desperation. It is not a sin. It is feeling like the only way to stop the overwhelming sadness is to end it all.

In the 1950’s when little was known about mental illness, our parents and grandparents were taught to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. We now know that does not work. Putting on a smile when we feel like crying is not a solution. Patients needs help and possibly medication right away. They don’t need to wait to be triaged or to call for a doctor’s appointment only to be told that new patients can’t get in to see the doctor for 2 weeks, when there are all kinds of opening appointments for existing patients. Waiting 24 hours or a week could be the difference between life and death!

When my daughter graduated college, before she started graducate school, she wanted to pad her resume with additional volunteer work. She decided to sign on with a national organization called, Crisis Text Line. She was trained as a crisis counselor to answer text messages from people who were considering harming themselves or others. She was not allowed to share her experiences, but she did tell me that numerous times she was able to recognize when a caller needed professional intervention and an ambulance, EMT’s or police were called to the scene. In those cases, we know for a fact she saved someone from committing the unthinkable.

If you are ever in a place where you feel desperate and alone, please always remember there are people out there who want to help. All you have to do, which is sometimes the hardest thing, is to reach out. Make the call. Let someone, anyone, know how you are feeling. Help is always, always available.

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