One of the blokes I grew up with died last week – he suicided as a consequence of a major dose of depression that he was suffering. It was a tragic loss of a terrific bloke and he has left behind his wife and young kids which is so terribly sad. He has also left behind his extended family and a huge network of friends who value him highly.
Depression is an insidious illness that creeps up on people. It seems to me that there are a lot of people out there who may have it (in varying degress and at varying levels of severity) – but they may not know about it. I know that I have a number of friends who have it and they are doing what they can to address the illness and treat it. I am very proud of them in their efforts as it can be a long road – but it is worth it!
There needs to be a greater awareness in the community of the impact of depression and the flow on effects that it brings. Organisations such as Beyond Blue are doing a wonderful job in building the profile and awareness of the disease and they need to be supported.
We also need to be aware of the issues and to be able to have “frank and open” discussions with those we care about where we might feel that they are grappling with issues that may indicate depression or anxiety. As one of my great mates says “Logic will not kill a man but lack of emotional awareness will”. For far too long, we’ve been brought up to “tough it out” and “deal with it” without appearing “weak”.
There is nothing wrong with admitting that you’re dealing with stuff that is causing confusion or hurt. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help.
I know because I was there quite some time ago – having been on the journey, I understand the feelings and “hollowness” that is associated with the illness. I am also far more aware of the way it presents in others when I talk to them (this doesn’t make me an expert in any way shape or form).
I want my mate’s passing to be the catalyst for more people supporting each other. In today’s world where we’re always “on” and connected, there seems to be a significant lack of true discussion and interaction. This needs to be retrieved and to be a focus for everyone.
I don’t want to lose another mate to “the Black Dog”. There have been far too many people effected directly and indirectly already by depression. It’s up to us to help each other in assisting those we know and care about when they are suffering from this disease.