By Linda Tate, Communications Director, Northwest Osteopathic Medical Foundation
This week, I’m not going to give you a clue as to what this blog will be about, but I will tell you that it doesn’t matter who you are, if you are reading these words right now, this blog will be for you. I’m speaking directly to you. Nobody else. This isn’t a political blog, nor is it a religious or spiritual blog. This is a blog that is going to hit you right between the eyes and I truly hope it makes a difference not only today but the rest of your life as well.
Do you remember when that little girl, Jessica McClure Morales, also known as “Baby Jessica,” became famous in 1987, when, at 18 months old, she fell down a 22-foot well in her aunt’s backyard? She remained trapped in the well for 58 hours, while America watched on cable news, before being rescued. It was harrowing.
Can you imagine being in that well? It was dark. Damp. Disorienting. Scary.
People immediately started looking for someone to blame. “The parents were too young to have kids”, “someone should have been supervising that baby more carefully!“, and “why wasn’t that well covered up so that she couldn’t fall in?”.
Not one of those statements helped Jessica. She was still down there, alone. Dark. Damp. Disoriented. Scared.
It’s that time of year again. Holidays. For some, it’s a dreaded time. For others, it’s a time that is anticipated all year long. This year will not be like years past. Maybe someone will be missing from your dinner table, due to death or estrangement. Maybe you won’t feel comfortable having people over or going to someone else’s house due to the Pandemic, or maybe the thought of eating and socializing is simply too exhausting.
Maybe you are in a place that is dark, damp, disorienting, and scary.
It’s so easy to get sidetracked helping others. Especially at this time of year, and that’s a good thing. But today, for purposes of this blog, I’m not going to tell you how to get out of that well. I’m simply going to acknowledge that you are in it and that it’s dark, damp, disorienting, and scary. How you got there? Irrelevant. Jessica didn’t sit in that well evaluating how she got there.
I’m not going to tell you to “get more exercise” or “drink more water“. I’m not going to blame you for being in this situation or offer up suggestions that feel trite and out of touch. I’m not going to say things like, “this too shall pass” or “you have such a great life, count your blessings“.
Instead, I’m going to crawl into that well and just sit there with you.
Feeling angry and not having any place to put that anger can eventually turn the anger inward and then it becomes depression.
Point blank, depression kills. It’s a medical emergency. If you don’t find a way back into the sunshine, you could die.
I’m not going to remind you that you mean so much to other people, or that you will only be passing on the pain, not disposing of it should you complete a suicide.
I’m not going to ask you to think about other people at all.
This blog isn’t about them.
It’s about you.
What I am going to ask you to do is finish reading, and then just sit with yourself for a minute. Evaluate your mental health. Are you fatigued? Do you cry easily? Does life in general feel hopeless? Pointless? Are you having trouble sleeping or maybe sleeping too much? Struggling to eat or eating too often? Feeling irritated about things that normally wouldn’t bother you?
Are you isolated? In the military and away from family? Dealing with chronic pain? Feeling misunderstood? Angry?
Be honest with yourself right now, at this moment. Nobody is watching you, judging you, or expecting you to pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Are you in that proverbial well?
There’s only one thing to do if you recognize you are depressed. Seek professional help. Now. Today. There are people out there that will help you. It may not feel that way right now, but give yourself time and give them a chance. Be gentle on you.
While you were reading this blog someone took their own life. One person, every 11 minutes in the United States, dies by suicide.
I don’t write this blog to reach 100 thousand readers. I write this blog to reach one reader, 100 thousand times.
I hope I reached you today.