Commentary - Lessons learned from depressionThe question so many ask when we lose a family member or a friend that is fighting a terminal illness that is dear to us: “Why did it happen, what was the reason?”
The question so many ask when we lose a family member or a friend that is fighting a terminal illness that is dear to us: “Why did it happen, what was the reason?”
Sometimes these answers are easy to come by. Just as we know that they will fight and we will fight with them, yet the battle will be lost. We can understand and acknowledge they will fight and hold on as long as possible. We go through the process with them.
Moreover, when it ends we are hurt and lost but we also say they fought hard. Then there are those diseases that are not easily understood. Diseases that no one talks about openly. You do not see it many times, because it can be masked so well that it is not seen. It is hard to get your arms around it.
I have encountered this disease recently, because of a dear friend. The disease is depression. Its ultimate goal to those it attacks is to bring them down, to make them give up, to make them feel worthless in a jungle of time and space. These effects are all so real to those that suffer.
Unfortunately, we as outsiders never see it. We do not see the pain that they are living with. We do not see the torment that they are going through. However, for the individuals it attacks it is forever there, always lurking, calling them to an end that nobody wants or sees coming. An end that will cause far more questions than answers.
This past year I lost a very dear friend, Jeff, to this disease. I did not see it coming; I did not see it in him. I did not see the torment that was inflicting such pain on his body mentally. I did not ask all the right questions, I wondered for many a night. He talked of what we were going to do; he talked of how we were going to have a good time on a Fourth of July weekend. He talked about barbecues and bonfires, cold beverages and good company. He did not talk about the pain. He said that he was tired lately, that he had not been sleeping well.
He had battles, like most of us, with money, bills, family, friends, ex wives and girlfriends. However, he never once said that he was depressed, he never once said “help me” and in the end, he did not win that battle.
Oh, he would comment on how he always wanted to “help others more,” and that he felt like he was never doing “enough for anybody.” Because friends stepped forward and helped where they could, and gave him physical things to make it easier for him to regain his footing on the turmoil that he saw all around him.
Now I believe that his pain was so great that the things that he wanted most were in front of him, in family and friends. The problem is he could not see it.
Many times, he would say that he could never repay all that was done for him. Yet, he was giving his friendship, his smile, his caring for others. He was thinking that he had to give of physical things, money, physical items and work. He did not see the goodness that he was casting around him. He was unable to see all the good through the pain that he was having.
This, unfortunately, is what I feel that I have learned now that he is gone. He was a true friend to my family and me. He would spend hours helping us out and taking care of all the little things. He always possessed this knowledge of what we needed and what was going to work best. He had an infectious laugh and kind heart. He had a way to make you feel good and to make you forget the things that were bothering you.
Through his death, I learned a valuable lesson in life – how many times we take the every day for granted and those around us for granted.
Many times we forget that the one that we count on may be looking for us to extend a hand and help. Moreover, in many ways that help is to listen, not to speak. Just listen.
I know that our dear friend to my family and me is at rest and in peace. He left us with many questions to try to answer and over time, we will realize that we will never be able to answer many of them. We will always wonder why, and what if, and could we have done something different.
Nevertheless, one thing that he did leave me with was knowing that we will all miss him, and I will remember him, and I will always respect him, and most importantly I feel that I have told his story. Do not ignore what may be in front of you. Listen and you truly can learn, and you can help. Rest in peace my good friend. Rest in peace.