Withdrawing into an inner darkness … that is depression
Call it a product of modernity if you will, but it is not. Give it whatever name you desire. It has, to my way of thinking, been with us for as long as our capacity to think advanced beyond the primitive.
The news last week of the death of former St Kilda champion Danny Frawley is yet another in a long list of sports people and others who have suffered from this terrible affliction we call depression.
The fact that (as disclosed by his family) he believed he had beaten the beast of darkness, and stopped taking his medication made his death all the more sad.
Three doors up from a previous address where I resided there lived a young family with two teenage boys. Everything about them appeared normal.
The eldest boy played Under 16 Aussie Rules football with one of the local junior teams. As it goes, it was the same club as that of my grandsons.
At training I would often compliment him on his prodigious talent. “Ya reckon,” would be the response of the typical teenage kid with an exceptional ability.
Often I would say hello as he walked past on his way home from high school. He readily engaged in conversation … especially if it were about the football.
He seemed as content as the average teenage boy. I later learned that being alone in the bush, hunting and fishing, was what he enjoyed most. It was in this environment that he took his own life. He was found at his campsite with a self-inflicted bullet wound to the head.
The deepness of his depression had won the day.
The “RUOK?” day passed us by last week and since the suicide of my young neighbour I have often asked myself what if l had asked the lad that very question.
Or indeed what if someone had asked me at the lowest point of my own depression.
Unlike Danny Frawley, l continue to take my medication in the knowledge that to do otherwise is to invite the dreaded darkness back into my life and l never want that again.
In one of my latter sessions with my psychologist I mentioned how oblivious people can be to one’s depression even those you know and love.
In my experience I went from day to day, appearing to function normally without emitting any clues, or when I did either intentionally or unintentionally, people responded with the usual just “just get over it” or even when I attempt to explain, they without any understanding, accused me of seeking pity.
In my case I sought the sanctity of that which I thought I enjoyed most, writing everyday for The AIMN and acted out my everyday life life as best I could.
The catalyst for my recovery came with an innocent question to my doctor from which resulted a diagnosis of depression. I was refereed to a psychologist, placed on medication, and the began the long road toward the light.
I was never suicidal. I just wanted some understanding of that which I didn’t comprehend myself.
I found out that depression is common in men of my vintage, however every case is different. In my psychologist I found a women of great understanding who gave me back – through her treatment – many things I thought I had lost.
In medication I found an acceptance of drugs I would once, in a typical manly way, have rejected.
In meditation I found the calmness and tranquillity I longed for. The capacity to overcome mental and physical pain.
In my recovery I rediscovered the positive empathetic encouraging person I once was. One so willing to pass on the experiences of a life well-lived.
My thought for the day
Life is an experience of random often unidentifiable patterns and indiscriminate consequences that don’t always have order nor require explanation. The more we relate to others the more we get to know ourselves.
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