Live, love and laugh — it will make you feel better
There are days when you may have to live life and take things minute by minute. Sometimes life can be overwhelming and, from personal experience, I can say some days feel like they are never going to end. Emotions run the gamut from happy as a clam at high tide to hating the world, based on the here and now.
It took me years to come to the realization, though it was obvious to some people around me, that anxiety and depression was controlling my life and — even worse — I was too proud to do anything about it. It took a major life event for me to understand that in order for me to regain any resemblance of me, I had to admit I needed help.
What some people don’t understand about anxiety and depression is that it is not debilitating to some, but for others it prevents them from performing the simplest of everyday tasks. Something as easy as going to McDonald’s or going out to the mailbox can be so traumatic for someone suffering from this illness, it leaves them unable to function.
More than 40 million Americans (18 percent of the population) are affected by a form of anxiety and depression. Depression is the leading cause of disability in people ages 15 to 45.
I come from the tail end of a generation where it is just not acceptable to speak out about these kind of things, but a good friend told me once that if he can help just one person by telling his story, the struggle is worth it. I think in many cases, that dynamic not only helps that person, but it also advances the progress of the one telling the story.
What I want for my kids and their generation is for them to feel comfortable about talking emotions — good, bad or indifferent. The lines of communication need to be open to allow them to learn it is OK to feel the way they feel because emotions just are.
I was floored when I heard a statistic the other day that 25 percent of all children in the U.S. between the ages of 13 and 18 suffer from anxiety and almost 15 percent suffer from depression. I also learned that both of these disorders are more likely to occur in females than males.
These statistics tell me one thing, I as a parent need to pay more attention to how my kids are feeling. I know, they think it annoying to have mom or dad ask the simple question “how are you doing?” and normally their response it “fine” or “it’s OK, god, go away” but I need to ask it anyways.
Anxiety and depression also open the door to drug and alcohol abuse, which helps mask the symptoms but doesn’t fix the problem. Alcohol is a depressant, so by drinking, you increase the level of your depression. The term “happy drunk” usually applies to someone who is trying to self-medicate because their world just plain stinks.
A high number of drug-related crimes in the area can be directly connected to mental illness of some sort or another, in my opinion. This is how I see it and I may be wrong, but someone is depressed and they sneak a prescription pill (prescribed to someone else) and it makes them feel better. The pill wears off and the depression returns so they take another and another until the drug controls them. It’s not just pills, it can be cocaine, heroine, bath salts or whatever — it alters their mood to the point they just don’t care anymore.
So now not only do they have to deal with an addiction, they have to deal with what led them to the addiction in the first place. Sad, but true? Yes, I think so.
So the moral to my ramble is this — mental illness, depression and stress-related anxiety is real and treatable. If you have had to deal with it in the past, share your experience, don’t be ashamed of healing yourself. Basic rule of thumb, you can’t be any good to anybody else unless you can be good for yourself.
Then talk, for goodness sake, talk. I feel suicide is the last act of a desperate person and is totally preventable if the person who is thinking about it just tells someone what is wrong. Suicide may end your pain, but it creates much more than you ever imagined for the ones left behind.
Live, love and laugh. Live your life to the fullest, love those who support you in every way and most importantly laugh as much as you can — try it — it will make you feel better.
Dwight Collins is a Camden Herald reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com.