I’d like to thank the many people who wrote after my recent article on depression – many of who suffered from it themselves. Conventional wisdom might suggest that the worst thing someone with depression could do was hear from other depressed people – but that is not the case. There is healing in knowing that you are not alone. I suspect that is what prompted many to write in.
I heard from several professionals who seemed relieved to be able to talk about it. Their occupations, apparently, did not allow them to reveal such things publicly.
I heard from one man who was simply passing through the area and picked up the newspaper at Denny’s restaurant. He was traveling to find some temporary relief – and he, too, found that he was not alone.
In every case, the words and names are private and will never be shared. I know hearing from people has helped me – I hope others have been helped as well.
But more than ever, I know that depression is a critical issue in South Hillsborough. And more than ever, I know that it is important to talk about it. It was a tough decision for me to reveal something so personal to thousands of people but doing anything less would have been hypocritical at best and a lie at worst.
It is important to realize that clinical depression is a disease – it is not a weakness. I have never felt weak in my life – well, at least up to this point. But I have never been afraid to take on any adventure or challenge. This, however, may be my biggest challenge yet. And I’m but just one example. There are many people who have accomplished much in their lives but yet suffer from this. But it doesn’t have to be forever – there is no need to live like this since help is out there.
Things have gone OK over the past few weeks. I’m sure anyone who has suffered from depression can relate when I say that it is often a matter of taking two steps forward and one step back. Sometimes it’s five steps back – but other times everything seems back to normal. It’s a long-term process. As an impatient person, it’s taking some time to realize this won’t be fixed overnight. But things will be fixed - this will get better.
The support of my family and friends – and hearing from all of you - has helped to a great degree. For that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope that I have or will return that favor someday.
In the coming weeks, I will revisit the subject, this time talking about the hard work people are doing in the area – primarily through the Coalition for Mental Health and Aging in Sun City Center. There, people are volunteering their time to help their friends and neighbors through a difficult period.
There is a better road through life out there – and there are people with the directions to that road. But first we need to be able to talk about it - and we need to remember that we’re not alone.
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