With these latest celebrity suicides and the ongoing discussions about depression and anxiety issues that trouble so many people, I will share a bit of my story and possibly offer hope to some who feel hopeless.
My maternal grandmother suffered from severe depression and from what my mom described, my grandmother probably had a good bit of what would now be diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Back all those many years ago there was very little help for those having mental health issues.
My grandmother was hospitalized and treated with electroshock therapy more than once, and back then it was a pretty barbaric treatment. After my grandmother's last hospitalization, she was discharged home with a warning to the family to watch her because the doctors knew she was still very depressed.
No one can be supervised every second, so my grandmother waited for her opportunity, slipped away and walked into the river and drowned herself. This happened when my mom was just 17 years old, and she was the oldest of 3 children. The pain of that suicide was felt through the generations.
I spent a lot of time in my younger years wondering if my grandmother's mental health issues were hereditary and something that I would have or could pass down to my children. This history is what led me to the mental health profession, in an attempt to understand this whole process of mental health issues and suicide.
Out of all of the classes I took, accumulating three mental health degrees, guess how many classes actually taught mental health? Zero! Not a single one.
I learned about mental disorders and how to diagnose, and various modes of treatment, but nothing was taught about mental health.
I was extremely lucky about 15 years ago to happen upon an understanding that is very simple and common sense. It points people back toward their own health and well-being and teaches that we all have that healthy part that we were born with that can never be damaged or destroyed, despite what we might have experienced in our life or inherited from our families. It was the best thing that I ever learned.
I have had the honor of sharing it in settings that range from businesses and universities, to correctional programs and substance abuse centers, and one-on-one counseling. I have seen people who believed they could never be happy reclaim their innate well-being and live peaceful, happy, contented lives.
I no longer fear mental health issues because I know they can be overcome. Part of the severity of mental health issues is the fear and the hopelessness. Another part is the ownership that people often claim when given a mental health diagnosis by a mental health professional. Many see their diagnosis as permanent. I don’t. Just as you heal from a broken bone, you recover from depression, or anxiety or whatever label you have accepted. It doesn’t have to be a forever thing, unless you claim it as a forever thing.
What I learned fifteen years ago is that my health and peace of mind come from me and I don’t have to do anything other than allow it to happen. Low moods pass away if you don’t fight them or fear they will last forever, just as when there is a thunderstorm, you know that the sun isn’t gone forever, it will shine again. Low moods pass, and you will feel good again. It is possible to live a life of peace and happiness and survive those thunderstorms life sends our way.