THE JOEY SONG and The Addict’s Mom on CNN

I’m a proud member of the ‘Addict’s Mom’, the group featured in the recent CNN report by Kelly Wallace. Proud, because, like other moms in the group, I’ve acknowledged that my son’s addiction is a tragic disease –not a disgrace– and so will no longer keep it a secret.

Over 20,000 members strong, we are just a drop in the bucket. I’ve heard it said that for every addict, another four lives are affected. That means there’s a lot of suffering going on. And, for too many people, stigma and shame have them suffering in silence.

When addiction grabs a child, it chokes a parent. I know the life-draining squeeze of its grip. I’ve never felt so incapable and helpless, so sad, so lonely. Such fear. My child has been stolen from me—stolen from himself—and I mourn Joey’s loss and suffering from a very lonely place. There is no broad community empathy or support for the families of addicts. There is no rallying cry of solidarity, no pretty ribbon brigade, and none of the comfort that so often gets baked into meatloaves and muffins. Instead there are closed doors and mouths and minds and hearts.

I want addiction to be understood, not misrepresented, misjudged, and mishandled. Not hushed up or hidden away. Nasty things grow most freely in dark corners; the scourge of addiction needs to be dragged out into the light.

When addiction is understood as a disease, it will be treated like a disease ― but this is an understanding that will happen only when those of us who love an addict stop hiding addiction as though it’s a disgrace.

So, I share my story, The Joey Song: A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s Addiction. A story of love and loss and learning. And surviving my son’s addiction while coming to terms with the fact that he may not.

No more shame. No more silence.

Click here to buy the book

This blog was written by Sandra Swenson, author of THE JOEY SONG

Posted in Addiction, Addiction & Recovery, Blog, Family & Addiction, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

When Trying To Fool Others, Are We Actually Just Fooling Ourselves?

These days when I think back to some of the misadventures that I lived through when weighing over 450 pounds, I often chuckle to myself — while also admiring my stamina for not only getting through that time in my life, but also eventually winning my battle of the bulge by taking off over 250 pounds of excess weight.

But during the time I weighed 450-plus pounds, it was a different story entirely. Not only was I trying to hide what I was going through from the rest of the world, I was also trying to hide my exploits (and the fact that I was the reason I was so heavy) from myself.

Case in point? When I would make my daily treks to fast food restaurants to order multiple entrees to then take home for lunch or dinner. I didn’t want anyone in public — even at the fast food joints — to know I was ordering all that food for just myself. Thus, I came up with what I thought was an ingenious plan. I used to scribble everything I wanted onto a piece of paper and, when arriving at the counter to place my order, would read off of it — as if I was ordering for a group of people. Add to that, I would order several more drinks than I needed (and a variety of drinks at that) to further cement my Broadway-caliber performance of “ordering for a small group.”

Even if I utilized a drive-through to place my order, I would have a list in hand and “pretend” to read off it (as if I were a great voiceover actor) — just for the entertainment of whoever was at the other side of the ordering microphone. And when I would finally reach the drive-through window, I would often hand the employee my list and ask them to throw it away — as if “visual proof” was a crescendo (of sorts) to my great performance.

Of course, looking back, I can see that the only person I was “fooling” was myself. I imagine that most employees of the restaurants I frequented couldn’t have cared less about what I was ordering — much less whom it was for. And if they did care, so what? And yet I kept this “lying game” up for years.

Back then, I never imagined that I would share this “deep, dark secret” with anyone — much less write about it publicly on the Central Recovery Press website or share this and another tales in my book Weightless: My Life As A Fat Man And How I Escaped. But I’ve learned that sharing tidbits like the one above not only helps others realize they’re not alone in their mental and physical struggles to take off the pounds (or conquer any addiction), but also to help myself accept my past and stay committed to never returning to that kind of mental game-playing again.

Have you ever played out a similar “game” to fool others and/or yourself? What were the results? Our confessions to one another only serve to bond us — not to mention help us (and others) . . . proving that old adage to be true: What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger. Or, at the very least, gives us a good chuckle.

This post was written by Gregg McBride, author of WEIGHTLESS. Click here to buy the book

This post was written by Gregg McBride, author of WEIGHTLESS. Click here to buy the book

Posted in Author News, Blog, Eating Disorder Recovery, Emotional Eating, Personal Development | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Library Journal Review of THE JOEY SONG

Swenson, SandraThe Joey Song: A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s AddictionCentral Recovery. Sept. 2014. 200p., ISBN 9781937612719. pap. $15.95;  ebk. ISBN 9781937612726.PSYCH

lj logoSwenson relates an honest, courageous story of her many years of struggle with her defiant, delusional, and addicted son. Instead of yet another personal memoir from a recovering addict, Swenson displays a valuable focus on how the toxic corrosion of addiction affects relationships with family and friends. She also shares how writing her story helped to release some of the pain, ventilate her anxieties, and allowed her to better manage the never-ending worries about her son’s problems and his shaky future, even as he failed to realize that only he had the power to change his life. Swenson candidly admits that her son’s addiction remains active and explains how she learned to refocus her efforts on other parents of loved ones suffering from substance abuse who might need help finding a path to recovery. This heart­breaking tale of a hurting family is the flip side of the usual heartwarming recovery story shared in most addicts’ memoirs. Coming to grips with the reality that it hurts more to hang on than to let go is a water­shed moment in the lives of most parents struggling with an addicted child. ­VERDICTSwenson’s cathartic account reveals her complex feelings about her troubled son that will connect with readers going through similar experiences in their families.—Dale Farris, Groves, TX

Click here to buy the book

Click here to buy the book

Posted in Addiction, Author News, Blog, Family & Addiction | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

David McMillian discusses WISDOM FROM THE COUCH in the Shreveport Times

It’s hard for me to believe, but today’s is column No. 500 in The Times. I would certainly be remiss if I didn’t begin it by saying thank you for your interesting and insightful questions, for your comments and, of course for reading. A very special thank you also goes to Times General Manager and Executive Editor Alan English, who almost 10 years ago, after being a guest on the radio program, encouraged me when I timidly asked to begin writing some of what we were talking about on “Strategies for Living.” I remember thinking that it might be fun to write a newspaper column for a year or two, figuring maybe 50 or 100 columns, but I guess I’m not finished learning whatever it is I need to learn, and that’s the point isn’t it? Are we ever through? I don’t think so. How can it be that perfectly intelligent people like you and me at times do obviously counterproductive things? Why do we do the things we know we shouldn’t do, and why do we fail to do the things we know we should do? The mind is certainly fascinating.

mcmillianI’ve written in previous columns about M. Scott Peck’s “The Road Less Traveled” (1978, Touchstone Books) and its impact upon me when I read and then reread those inspired pages, underlining and making notes until the pages were both worn and tattered, and something had changed inside of me, too. I actually “blame” that book for turning things upside down in my life, and I’m not sure I would have become a therapist if not for its exceptional wisdom and information. One of the things that most attracted me to that book was the merging between spirituality and psychology. Recently I’ve discovered what I think may be a modern day version of that now classic work, “Wisdom From the Couch” by Jennifer L. Kunst, Ph.D. (2014, Central Recovery Press). Like Peck, Kunst is specially trained in the unconscious mind, which may well hold the answers to the important questions above. I had the opportunity to visit with psychoanalyst Kunst and you can listen to our conversation here.

Kunst’s chapter titles themselves reveal a depth and freshness not only from her training and work, but also from her own life and experience, which she readily shares. Some of the chapters include:

• What You See is Not What You Get, which deals with the unconscious life of the mind.

• If You’re Not Moving Forward, You’re Moving Backward, which is all about growing throughout our lives and facing ourselves as we truly are, with all our limitations, anxieties, unconscious maneuvers, hopes and capabilities.

• Life is Not an Entitlement; It is a Gift. The more we practice thankfulness, the more we grow spiritually.

• Because Thinking Makes It So. Real thinking doesn’t come naturally, even though we’re all preprogrammed to learn how to do it. It takes training and discipline.

• Can’t Live With ’Em Can’t Live Without ’Em. Wise mind is the ability to reflect on our feelings and learn from them.

• It’s Always Broken, So We Always Have to Fix It. This chapter deals with love, guilt and reparation. Life always has and always will involve conflict, work, struggle and death. These are natural and value-neutral aspects of life.

• Love is the Name of the Game. When we are able to make peace with our lives as they are, we are more and more able to see the good that is there.

Kunst contends that when we develop a clear understanding of how our minds operate, we’re able to make the kind of change that impacts us at the core. That’s change that lasts. This is great stuff. If you can’t listen on Sunday, catch the conversation with Kunst under Featured Podcasts at www.strategiesforliving.com.

This article first appeared in The Shreveport Times

This article first appeared in The Shreveport Times

 

This blog is written about Jennifer Kunst, PhD, author of WISDOM FROM THE COUCH

This blog is written about Jennifer Kunst, PhD, author of WISDOM FROM THE COUCH

Posted in Author News, Mental Health, Personal Development, Relationships | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Starred Review for WEIGHTLESS in the latest issue of The Library Journal

lj logo(starred review) McBride, Gregg. Weightless: My Life as a Fat Man and How I Escaped. Central Recovery. 2014. 297p. ISBN 9789376126965. pap. $17.95. HEALTH

Film and TV producer/writer McBride (Just Stop Eating So Much!) relates his lifelong battle with weight, from 175 pounds at age eight to 464 at age 22, and now, back to 175 today. The author survived an abusive childhood by bingeing on sweets and snacks, eating until the physical pain from his full stomach overwhelmed any other emotion. As an adult he tried many diet programs without success, finally shedding the weight through exercise and proper nutrition, without gastric bypass. McBride is brutally honest about his struggles as he details his problems with self-esteem, shopping for clothes, dating, and the loose skin that remained after his weight loss. He eventually had surgery to remove the skin, and bluntly describes the pain and scarring associated with his recovery. The story is ultimately one of triumph, as ­McBride has maintained his current size for more than ten years. The last section includes his tips for losing fat, a few recipes, and a fascinating list of observations of the behaviors of slender vs. overweight people. VERDICT Anyone who has lived with excess weight will appreciate this book. Teenagers and young adults in particular may identify with and benefit from McBride’s story.—­Rachel Owens, Daytona State Coll. Lib., FL

Posted in Author News, Blog, Eating Disorder Recovery, Emotional Eating | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

If You Meet the Buddha, Say Hello

Once in a while you can get shown the light
In the strangest of places if you look at it right.
~ Robert Hunter, Scarlet Begonias, Grateful Dead

Often, things are more (sometimes much more) than they seem at first glance. Embedded in ordinary every day experiences we can find windows to the extraordinary, gifting us with glimpses into the deep richness and beauty of life. However, access to such gateways requires an expansion of conscious awareness that awakens mind and spirit, along with an openness to heretofore unseen possibilities.

Some years ago, I went backpacking in Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe. My hiking partner and I stopped at a grocery store in South Lake Tahoe to pick up some last minute supplies. After gathering what we needed, per my standard operating procedure, I identified the shortest checkout line and assumed the position. After a few moments, I started to become aware that several lines away the cashier seemed to be engaged, and engaging everyone who came through his line, in having an absolutely great time—on the checkout line at Safeway!

The scene was simultaneously bizarre and compelling. I found myself instantly drawn to this cashier and the quality of his interactions with customers. He was short, bald, rotund to the point of being obese, and wore thick old-style black horn-rimmed eyeglasses. He didn’t just greet his customers; he embraced them—each and every one—in a verbal/emotional bear-hug of warm, welcoming, it’s-wonderful-to-see-you-again-my-old-friend energy.

His manner was boisterous to the point of standing out, yet neither obnoxious nor intrusive. It was congruent rather than contrived, as genuine and natural as the Ponderosa Pines and Douglas Fir trees dotting the landscape around Tahoe. I was mesmerized. Although I wasn’t entirely certain what was going on, I knew that it was exceedingly rare.

Somehow, in the midst of one of the more mundane, often frustrating environments on the planet, this grocery store cashier seemed to be operating in a state of unadulterated joy that allowed him to appear to float ever so slightly above the ground that constrained the rest of us. There was a certain music and magic to this person and how he related to others and to the world. Whatever it was that he had, I wanted to experience it up close.

I then did something I have never done in my entire life, either before or since. I actually switched lines to one with a noticeably longer wait, just so I would have the opportunity to be in personal contact with this phenomenon, whatever it was.

I waited in his checkout line with curiosity, anticipation, and unusual patience, noticing more carefully how the customers, without exception reacted to his unexpected and enthusiastic grace with bemused grins and a sense of wonder. When it was my turn, he greeted me with equal élan and a Cheshire cat smile that consumed most of my field of vision. I made direct eye contact and returned his greeting, adding “It’s great to see someone who really seems to know how to enjoy life.” He leaned toward me, lowered his voice slightly and chuckled, “And you know, it doesn’t cost anything extra,” at which point he gave me a knowing wink.

As his sense of present-centered joy washed over me, for a few brief seconds that felt much longer, it was as if everything else faded away, and in that moment, I knew everything that I would ever truly need to know—though I would quickly forget it. It would only occur to me years later, viewed through the perspective of recovery and an enhanced sense of spirituality that this effervescent generosity of spirit stood on a foundation of loving-kindness—simple, pure, and abundant.

As perfect as that moment was, of course it couldn’t last. Perfection only visits us every once in a great while, and it never stays very long. Such transcendent experiences are always temporary. Whenever we try to keep them as if they are possessions, we invariably set ourselves up for disappointment. The most healthy and spiritual thing we can do is to recognize and appreciate such moments for what they are, as opposed to focusing on what they are not and can never be.

Two of the fundamental tenets of Buddhist psychology are that all things are impermanent and constantly changing yet we tend to relate to them as though they were static and permanent, and all things are interconnected yet we relate to them (and ourselves) as though they were independent. These discrepancies are among the root causes of discontent and suffering. As a result, growth and healing come from experiences that move us toward the acceptance of impermanence, as well as conscious connection with others and the world around us.

As Thich Nhat Hanh, the renowned Vietnamese Buddhist monk who has been instrumental in bringing Buddhism and mindfulness practices to the West has put it: “Spiritual practice is not just sitting and meditating. Practice is looking, thinking, touching, drinking, eating, and talking. Every act, every breath, every step can be practice and help us to become more ourselves.”

This blog was written by Dan Mager, MSW, author of SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED

This blog was written by Dan Mager, MSW, author of SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED

This blog originally appeared on the Psychology Today website

This blog originally appeared on the Psychology Today website

Posted in Addiction & Recovery, Author News, Blog, Chronic Pain, Mindfulness, Pain Recovery | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Man’s Way Through Relationships

The most important word in the title of my book, A Man’s Way through Relationships: Learning to Love and Be Loved is learning. This means it is a process. I think it is a never-ending process. I did not write the book because I have any answers but more because I am deeply invested in the question of how do we men learn how to love and be loved.

 

Bobby, one of the men I interviewed for this book, said it well: “Life is meaningful only within the context of the connections we have with the friends and family around us.” I have always cared about the relationships in my life. My guess is that you have, too. I did not always know how to show it, or have the courage to show it, and I would often act in ways that sent the message I didn’t care. Relationships are complicated and challenging territory for everyone, but particularly for men. Even today, relationships can sometimes leave me wishing I lived on a deserted island, just as they did when I was stuck in my active addiction. I still don’t always know, or have the courage to show, how much I care about the relationships in my life. I certainly do not do it perfectly.

 

The assumption that underlies this book is that all men care about relationships. We want to be good sons, partners/spouses, fathers, and friends, but we need help. We are shaped by these “Man Rules” that tell us asking for help is not okay. We may follow these Rules, but they belie what is in our hearts. I have worked with, sat with, cried with, and even physically held far too many men to ever believe that deep inside of most men’s hearts is not a real desire to connect, to love, and to be loved. Yet, an incredible force inside of them pushes them to separate, disconnect, push away, and pretend otherwise. This seeming contradiction is at the heart of this book and the conversation in which I want to engage you.

If this conversation interests you I encourage you to continue reading these entries over the coming months and join the conversation! I would love to hear what you have found to be helpful and the challenges you have been able to overcome in your own journey of learning how to love and be loved.

This post was written by Dan Griffin, MA, author of A Man's Way Through Relationships

This post was written by Dan Griffin, MA, author of A Man’s Way Through Relationships

Posted in Addiction & Recovery, Author News, Blog, Personal Development, Relationships | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

On Stardom and Mental Health

Individuals who are very talented artistically and achieve early success or fame are in a very vulnerable position. As artists, they tend to be extremely sensitive by nature—this is part of their genius and is sometimes a burden they must bear. Such individuals can develop a perfectionistic relationship with their craft, feeling harshly critical of themselves even when they are succeeding. They can become very reliant on outside feedback to affirm their worth, whether this feedback comes in the form of reviews, money, fame, or career advancement. An over-reliance on others for self-worth is a precarious position for any human being and especially for those with celebrity status. A bad review, a cancelled show, financial troubles, or the feeling that their career is fading with time or age can lead to tremendous anxiety. They may live under a constant worry that they could lose their success at any minute—and, with it, their sense of personal value.

Add into the mix the Hollywood culture and the relentless pressure of the paparazzi, which, dominated by envy, enjoy nothing more than seeing the successful fail and exploiting their human weaknesses. Envy is an ugly aspect of human nature and one that makes life in the public eye enormously challenging. There is tremendous pressure to keep up a false front and little room for celebrities to feel that they can be regular people with regular lives, admitting their failures, learning through trial and error, and seeking help when they need it.

For some, drugs and alcohol offer relief from these painful and stressful experiences. Drugs and alcohol can be used as a kind of synthetic solution to life’s problems, a way to numb anxiety and create immediate pleasure, which someone in this state of mind so desperately needs. When you have the experience of being able to successfully alleviate such painful feelings in a quick, immediate way, such a solution becomes difficult to resist even when one works very hard at it. One may have periods of sobriety, making use of rehab and support groups, such as those found in twelve-step programs. But addiction is a chronic, life-long disease with an up-and-down course that wears on both an individual’s psyche and his or her support system. Relapse is common, and is stressful and discouraging. Add into the mix clinical depression—which often goes hand-in-hand with addiction—and you have a perfect storm.

At its root, suicide reflects an individual’s profound feeling of helplessness in his or her ability to cope with the demands of life, as well as hopelessness that life can get better. With ongoing setbacks that are a normal part of chronic illnesses such as depression and addiction, it is possible to lose faith that there are enough resources (inside and outside) that can make enough of a difference to go on and keep trying.

As a society, we have a long way to go in our efforts to decrease the stigma associated with mental health and addiction struggles. So many people suffer from them, including our heroes and our idols. But beneath any successful persona is just another human being, as vulnerable, sensitive, and imperfect as any other—and so deserving of our patience, our respect, and our understanding.

This blog is written about Jennifer Kunst, PhD, author of WISDOM FROM THE COUCH

This blog is written about Jennifer Kunst, PhD, author of WISDOM FROM THE COUCH

Posted in Author News, Caregiving, Personal Development | Tagged , | Leave a comment

On Tools to Fight Addiction and Depression—from a Suicide Survivor

I’ve been there; in that dark place that no one likes to talk about socially, the pit of emotional hell that feels impossible to crawl out of. I struggled with addiction and depression, which for me went hand-in-hand, for over a decade. I’ve sat with a shotgun in my mouth and finger on the trigger. I’ve swallowed a bottle of pills with a bottle of peach schnapps, hoping to end the pain I was feeling, only to have my stomach pumped. I know sadness that seems impossible to explain. Ultimately, I took a razor blade to my wrists and violently tried to end my life on November 10, 1997. I was fully intent upon ending it all; I saw no hope, no future, and no other way. Thankfully, I survived.

Every thirteen minutes in this country a person dies from suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When I heard about Robin Williams’ suicide, my heart broke, not because I knew him, but because I knew his pain intimately. No one can truly understand depression and addiction without experiencing them, and while no one’s experience with these issues is exactly the same, there are commonalities, such as hopelessness, futility, anxiety, and desperation. Depression and addiction alone can be life-altering, but when coupled together they often result in death.

I do not write this to focus on Williams’ death; his family has requested focus on his life. Yet just like Williams prior to his death, millions of other people have also had to live with depression and/or addiction. Our country needs to finally have an honest dialogue about mental health and addiction so we don’t hear of another incredible soul taking his or her life. The stigma that surrounds the diseases of addiction and depression leaves too many people in darkness, suffering the way Williams did and the way I once did. There are ways people can be helped; I am living proof of that. It’s been close to seventeen years since I have felt so depressed that I wanted to end it all, since I have thought there were no other ways to live, and since I have engaged my addictive behaviors.

Anyone suffering from depression and addiction need never suffer alone; there are so many resources available to help—understanding people, support groups, hotlines, health centers, and online communities. I understand how heavy the phone can feel when one is sick and suffering, but there is always someone on the other end of the line waiting to listen, to provide supportive counseling, and to connect the caller to life-saving resources. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at (800) 662-HELP (4357) are just two free and confidential hotlines. Recovery is possible with help.

When I got clean and sober, my life-affecting depression began to dissolve. But life on life’s terms has brought rough times for me when that depression has come back; today when it seeps in, I enlist the help of the following tools:

1.    Writing—By writing down your darkest secrets and fears, you expose them for what they really are—just thoughts, not facts, and the power of those thoughts is lessened when you get them out of your head.

2.    Talk to Someone—By sharing your experiences, thoughts, and fears with another person, you can allow yourself permission to be human and to allow another person you trust to bear witness to your pain. This is truly the first step in getting help.

3.    Exercise or Activity—Physical activity in any form, whether it is a simple walk, jog, or sporting activity, can help. Physical activity releases endorphins, which make you feel better about yourself and help to reduce stress and the effects of depression.

4.    Find a Therapist and/or Doctor—I found a skilled therapist to help me explore the why’s of my addiction and depression so I could build healthier coping mechanisms. Medicinal intervention can also be a life-saving method for many. Depression is a chemical imbalance within your brain, and, depending upon the severity of the imbalance, medication may be necessary to create a balance.

5.    Meditation or Mantra—Finding quiet time for my mental health is vital for me, especially because finding someone to talk to is not always possible. Thirty to sixty minutes of meditation three to four times per week is best for me, but even just five to ten minutes can help calm my mind and bring me peace. Or find a mantra, prayer, poem, or saying that you can repeat to help calm you.

6.    Support Groups—Twelve-step programs saved my life; I find so much support, love, and kinship in the rooms of the groups I turned to. Thankfully, there are groups for most any issue. In the meeting rooms you never have to be alone. I have never gone to a meeting and left feeling worse.

7.    Music—If I am feeling anxious, sad, mad, or just in a funk and cannot pinpoint what is bothering me, I turn on one of my favorite songs and sing my heart out. I also listen to bilateral EMDR music on my headphones when I am feeling anxious, cannot sleep, or just want to relax.

8.    Cry, Scream, and Feel—You have to let it out somehow. Feelings are just that—feelings—but they are not facts and they cannot kill you. Crying is cleansing for the soul. Screaming can allow you to release anger, frustration, and fear in a safe way. You must be able to release your feelings; untreated, they can eventually turn into depression.

9.    Reading—Books, articles, blogs, and other materials that help you to understand more about your particular issues can help you learn to cope in healthy ways. Personal stories help me best, as I can understand another person through their own journey and relate that to my own. I can guarantee there isn’t a thing you are dealing with or feeling that someone else hasn’t dealt with or also felt.

10.    Sleep—I know that when you are depressed, anxious, or dealing with something else difficult, getting a good night’s sleep is not always easy. By enlisting some of the above methods, you should find that sleep becomes a bit easier. Try to get the amount of sleep your body needs to function at your best. For most people, that is seven to nine hours.

These are just ten of the tools you can enlist to start breaking the cycle of whatever you are dealing with. I hope they can help you the same way they helped me, or get you thinking of other ways to help your specific situation. You do not have to suffer in silence; you are not alone, and you can survive what you are experiencing and learn to live a happy and healthy life. I promise—I am living proof.

The blog was written by Jennifer Storm, author of LEAVE THE LIGHT ON

The blog was written by Jennifer Storm, author of LEAVE THE LIGHT ON

Posted in Addiction, Addiction & Recovery, Author News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

On the Loss of a Loved One to Suicide

Those left behind after a suicide go through a great range of emotions. If you were a caregiver of a person who was battling depression and lost their struggle, your emotions may have been capped with “What could I have done to stop it?”

Although we, as caregivers, can be there to reach out to those left behind, and to offer support to others suffering with depression, there is nothing we can do to erase the brutality of the deed itself. Our loved one chose to end his or her life. The hurt of those left behind was perhaps not considered or even that the act would be so final. Only the relief from the darkest darkness a human mind can ever imagine was considered by our loved one. We think, “What a waste,” but a life is never wasted. We are gifted in different ways by people and this was a person in our lives. We are better because he or she lived.

In the presentations to caregivers that I am involved with, we say that suicide is the sad outcome of the disease of depression. Just as people die because of cancer or heart disease or some other illness, people die because of depression. Some people will argue that suicide is different because the person had a choice, to which we can only counter, “Did they have a choice in getting depression in the first place? Did they have a choice as to what to do when the darkness consumed them?” They did not and they cannot be blamed for a disease that recognizes no economic, gender, age, or race differences. Depression kills and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we will be getting the necessary help to people all across our country who are facing the same darkness.

This post was written by Bernadette Stankard, co-author of DANCING IN THE DARK

This post was written by Bernadette Stankard, co-author of DANCING IN THE DARK

Posted in Caregiving | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment