How can we combat depression?

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Over the past few months, depression is something I have become consumed with. No, I do not suffer from it directly. I mean, I go through mood swings like everyone else and find myself questioning my value and role in society, but I wouldn’t classify myself as being depressed or mentally ill. But recently, I’ve found myself trying to isolate myself from society as best I can so I can observe our behaviour to come up with some kind of a solution, one that can actually put us on the right path to treating this horrible illness in order to answer the question: How can we combat depression?

Before I go any further, I stand completely by what I said about how disgusting and disgraceful it is that our governments have cut almost all funding in this area (Is Social Media to blame for Depression and Suicide?). In an ideal world, we’d have professional (and I’m not referring to just putting people on drugs and fucking with their minds and making them addicted to God-knows-what in those medications) help for anyone that needs it. The sad truth is the world we live in (and those that run it) couldn’t care less about anyone else’s problems unless it is for their own advantage/ ego.

So that leaves the rest of us by ourselves.

But we are not alone. We have each other. And I think that is the perfect start.

Loneliness and depression can be a fatal combination.

Loneliness and depression can be a fatal combination.

When I was younger (around 8 or 9), I used to go to church with my Mum and my two older brothers. Yes, I was religious. No, I’m not ashamed of it. I’m not religious now in any sense of the word, but it taught me certain life lessons and I have no hard feelings. But yes, when I was younger, I went to church. And I was always hanging (well, O.K, following) my older brothers and their friends around. But there was a kid there my age. His name was Kyle. We went to different schools, and we never really spoke. He had a younger brother, but sometimes we’d talk. We got along. But once I started going to high school, family problems arose with drugs and we stopped going to church regularly. A few years after, I found out Kyle had killed himself. And even though I was never close to him or his family, it hit me hard. It was the first time I really encountered death of someone that I had known. I felt guilty that I hadn’t reached out to him, and that guilt (regardless of how irrational that it is) still resonates to this day. It shook me up that someone so young (despite being the same age as me) could take his own life. But what really got to me was he seemed like he was doing alright.

It was around that time that I made a vow to myself that I would help anyone that I could. I wouldn’t wait until I saw the signs of someone being suicidal before being nice to them. It’s something I live by (and get criticised for, but that’s another story for another day).

Now fast forward to today. Recently my friend’s best friend took his life. Now I didn’t know him at all, but it sparked all kinds of thoughts. The main focus for me was obviously helping her through this extremely difficult time. But then I found myself constantly wondering “how the hell do we fix this?”

There is no easy answer. Everyone has their own set of problems, and most people will hide (like Kyle did, and like how my friend’s friend did) them out of fear of being judged and ridiculed.

And that is what needs to change immediately. We have this fucked up philosophy that “if someone is genuinely going through depression or mental illness, they won’t broadcast it.”

No. That needs to stop. We need to stop judging everyone based off our own experiences and actually start caring. We are, believe it or not, meant to be a society. We can’t be looking for excuses to dismiss people that have mental issues. It’s unacceptable. If we know someone that has Cancer or a physical disease, we (generally) go out of our way to help them. We don’t wait for them to come and ask for help directly from us.

The same thing has to happen for those that are suffering from mental illness.

We need to help each other at times of crisis.

We need to help each other at times of crisis.

So what I propose is that (as hippy-ish) as it sounds, is we start looking out for each other. Let’s make a conscious effort to help people in whatever way possible. If people our age can be consumed by sports or Kim Kardashian, then surely we can start caring for those that we know and care about in real life. We shouldn’t have to wait until they come to us and say they’re depressed or are feeling suicidal. We have to be proactive with this and start being a little more perceptive. A smile goes a long way, but that is often far too superficial. Let’s take the time to get them back on their feet, regardless of what it takes. I know that some people don’t want to talk about their problems all the time, but we can help without trying to play the role of psychologist. If we know someone is struggling with their studies, give them a hand. If we see a teammate have a bad game in a sporting event, put your arm around them and tell them it’s not the end of the world. If someone is going through a tough time at home, take them out somewhere. I could list examples all day here, but the point I am trying to make is there are plenty of opportunities to make them feel better that don’t involve digging deep into the intricacies of their personal life.

If we can lose this chip on our shoulders and start uplifting everyone, the result will be a happier and more productive society. It’s something we all have to buy into to, and it’s not an easy thing to embrace. But if it’s inside you, it’s worth it. There is no greater feeling in the world than helping others, regardless of the situation. And if we’re all there to help others when they’re down, if or when we need help, it’ll be there.

So let us begin by going out of way to help others. If Martin Luther King can have a dream of equality, then I’m allowed to have mine as well. And who knows where it could end up taking us? There’s no telling what progress we could make if we empower people rather than belittle them.

Or we could continue in this destructive, self-absorbed attitude that we’ve adopted. In the end, it’s your decision what kind of person you are.

Choose wisely.