I never thought I would turn into “that” person. “That” person, being the people I remember from childhood who would talk about the aches, pains, and arthritis. It seemed as if “that” person would spend countless conversations explaining their ailments and how they indeed hurt worse than another poor soul whose name gets dragged into the conversation. To my horror last week I was talking with someone and without even being aware of it I brought up my joint pain!! I wasn’t at the doctor or at the massage therapist’s office, there was not a real valid reason I was discussing this! After I ran to the bathroom and splashed my face with water screaming for myself to wake up from this horrid dream, ;) I quickly changed the topic. I mean come on Travis, as you age you can’t turn into “that” person! J
Of course I use this tongue in cheek self-deprecating story with some humor. But my experience led me to think about something deeper, which is when something consumes our lives and is a constant force its hard not to allow what ever consumes us to occupy all of our thoughts, conversation, and awareness. I mean when something is powerful, at times maybe debilitating, it’s almost impossible to allow one’s thoughts to get past it. Perhaps that is why so many people become “that” person, they have a need to take conversations to their pain because honestly it’s hard to see an existence or remember an existence outside of the present trouble?
Truth is it would be unnatural for individuals not to talk about what consumes them. It would be unhealthy for someone to keep something so powerful bottled up inside. Of course by now you know I am leading down a path that encompasses many more issues than joint pain. I am also talking about the pains of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, addictions, and the list goes on and on. I think one of the kindest things we could do for someone is to allow him or her to express their pain. I believe in this so much that have given the majority of my life to a career that invites people to come to a non judgmental presence and allows them to discuss concerns that many people around them have long told them to “just get over.” Let me let you in on a secret, you don’t “just get over” an illness. Could you imagine telling someone who is suffering heart disease to “just get over it”?
You may or may not know that October is depression awareness month. Unfortunately this is still one of the least talked about illnesses. I mean we seem to accept that people who have rheumatoid arthritis or a disease like cancer need treatment. I don’t think many of us would accept that anyone who has these illnesses should remain in darkness ashamed and that they should just hope to get better on their own! So why is depression or mental illness any different? It is an illness, plain and simple. According to sources over 80% of individuals who suffer from symptoms of clinical depression do not receive treatment? Along side pharmaceutical intervention social support and therapy can be effective in treatment. As someone who has suffered from depression and also has family who suffers from this illness I can say that there is help and hope.
Sue Monk Kidd makes the statement in her book, "The Invention of Wings," "There is no suffering on earth that doesn't crave a benevolent witness." Is there someone in your life who needs you to be a benevolent witness? If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from depression there are some great resources out there. One great place to start for information and resources is http://mentalhealthscreening.org