And it can happen when you least expect it.
A traumatic event can bring it on. A dramatic shift in lifestyle. Watching others advance in careers or enjoying families and you’re not. The loss of a spouse or other close family member. New mothers often experience it, in the form of postpartum depression.
In my own case, many years ago when I was in my mid-twenties, and recently divorced, I suddenly lost my job. I had no idea what I was going to do. I had rent to pay, a car payment, and all the other incidentals of life. I remember those first weeks, filing for unemployment, searching daily for a new job, and getting more and more discouraged. I’d sit in a chair for hours at a time, doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself. Fortunately I found a new job fairly soon, and pulled myself out of it, but it was a hard time in my young life, and I’ve never forgotten it.
Depression can also hit after major surgery. I didn’t really believe it until I saw it happen to someone I loved. Fortunately it was short-lived, but it was scary to watch an adult break down in tears for no apparent reason, and that person not knowing why, and having no control over it.
Depression is real. It’s not a joke, and it’s not something you can turn off when someone tells you to just “snap out of it!” It’s not something to laugh about, or to be frustrated with a friend or family member who’s going through it and needs understanding rather than anger or resentment.
Sometimes that person may not even realize that’s what’s happening. They may feel a bit down, or “under the weather,” as the saying goes, but depressed? That’s usually an ugly word to most people, and many times it’s used to make fun of someone, or used as an excuse to avoid that person. “Oh, he/she is so depressing to be around. I can’t handle people like that.” Which means the person who needs someone the most to help them through a difficult time is abandoned, left feeling even more hopeless than before.
Depression affects some 15 million Americans each year, from mild to extreme cases. Sometimes it’s short lived, and sometimes it grabs onto that person and just won’t let go, no matter how hard they try to pull out of it. While some individuals are able to pull themselves through it and out of it, others need professional help and/or medication to help them recover. It may be a quick process, or it may take months, and in some severe cases, much longer.
Unfortunately in today’s times more and more people are beginning to find themselves on the edge of depression, for various reasons. It’s not something anyone wants to admit, and it’s not always something we even realize until we’ve fallen all the way into it. And then it’s not an easy thing to pull out of.
Why write about this now? Because it can happen to any of us. At any time. It almost happened to me again after I underwent surgery to repair my broken wrist. And it reminded me that none of us are immune, no matter how emotionally strong we may be; no matter how strong our faith may be; and no matter how strong and intact our family and friends support system is.
If you or someone you know is going through something similar, please take my advice and talk to someone. A counselor, your pastor, or your doctor. The sooner you can get out of it, the better off you – and your family – will be.
Life is worth living, and living to the fullest. Don’t let anything stop you!