“Depression, the Secret we Share” by Andrew Solomon; a TedTalk

“The opposite of depression is not happiness; it’s vitality”- Andrew Solomon

This is an amazing video about depression, both the humanistic experiences of depressive symptoms and the medical/psychiatric realms that interact with the mental illness.

While you watch this, please keep in mind that Solomon’s descriptions of depression are his subjective experiences of living with the illness. However, the stories he shares about what other people have experienced and the research he mentions can be generalized as a way to provide hope and to remind ourselves about the courage that exists in all of us.

Was the suicide a nightmare or real life: a True Story

A few years ago, I woke up and was unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality. Since it is September and this month is recognized as Suicide Prevention Month, I thought this would be a wonderful time to share this story with you.

The story goes like this:

One night I went to bed after a long day during my undergraduate years. I woke up sleepily from my cell phone ringing.

“Hello?”, I said.

“Hi, Brittany. I am calling to say bye.” Someone I hold very close to my heart was on the other line.

“What are you talking about? What do you mean by ‘bye’? Where are you going?”, I said from disbelief.

The other person stated, “I am going to kill myself. I can’t live like this anymore. I am sorry I have let you down”.

Tears began to stream down my face uncontrollably.

“What? What are you saying? You promised me you wouldn’t. Wait… Please DON’T!”

“I have to.” The phone hung up. My mouth remained open in shock. My heart felt like it stopped beating and time stopped.

The next moment I remember is waking up drenched in sweat and hearing myself scream. What just happened? Did I cry myself back to sleep after that phone call or was that phone call only a dream? A nightmare? It had to be a nightmare!

To make sure what happened was truly a nightmare, I called the person’s cell phone. The next five seconds seemed like eternity. The phone was not being answered fast enough. It must have been…

“Hello, Brittany.”

Oh my God! I heard the person say my name!

“Hello! Is that you?”

“Yes, are you okay? Are you crying? What’s wrong?” I attempted to explain for the next ten minutes what just happened as my tears of happiness overcame me. I then heard, “That will never happen. I promised you that I wouldn’t do that. And I plan to follow through with that promise”.

I began to cry again. “You promise?”

“Yes, I promise”.

 

Luckily, that phone call I experienced was only a nightmare. Unfortunately, some people’s nightmares do really happen in real life. Talking about suicide or discussing one’s thoughts about suicide is nothing to be ashamed of. Discussing the signs and concerns about a loved one or a friend is what can be done to prevent suicide from happening in the first place. For support, for either you, a family member, or a friend, please call:

The National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK
The Youth America Hotline: Counseling for Teens by Teens at 1-877-YOUTHLINE
The Trevor Project: Crisis Intervention & Suicide Prevention for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth at 1-866-488-7386.

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” An Untimely Chaotic Consistency”

I tweeted on July 8th: “The discussions that are most difficult to start, are the most important conversations!”. I then included these: #mentalhealth, #suicide, #domesticviolence, and #rape.

When I wrote this tweet, I was reflecting on all i have heard and all the various emotions I have felt these past months. I learned of my relative’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, which has been chipping away at my heart. Also, I heard details about someone’s unimaginable experience that has propelled me into the depths of my fears. I have felt anger, compassion, fear, happiness, madness, and relief. The only way I know how to describe my life this month is “an untimely chaotic consistency”. Yes, that phrase doesn’t make much sense. However, on the other hand, it sort of does.

As a bystander to what I have learned, I attempt to make sense of it all. I attempt to understand how cancer cells can simultaneously deteriorate a family’s center and question a body’s ability to function. I attempt to question and understand the possible limitations of an individual’s strength. Although I am not the one with the cancer diagnosis and I am not the person that has experienced the greatest degree of sexual assault, I am the one that is indirectly impacted from such experiences. These two individuals are people I thought were untouchable.


Maybe I’m thinking about this all wrong. What if, these two individuals are touchable in the physical sense, while their souls are impenetrable? Their souls remain intact within the darkness and chaos.

The souls of these individuals are what remain after damage has been done. The soul of my relative is allowing them to continue receiving chemotherapy treatments. the other person’s soul is sustaining their unweathering strength as they move forward in retrieving the power that was taken from them against their will.


This month has been tough. Now that I think about it, the coming months will be the most challenging for these two individuals personally, and for myself indirectly as I witness their fight against the odds. These will be the most emotionally and mentally challenging months ahead. Fortunately, these two individuals will not go through their path towards recovery alone.

* This blog was written for those that have been impacted by a cancer diagnosis  & have either experienced or know someone that has been raped.

Resources:

If you have been raped, please contact RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) at 1800-656-HOPE. Visit RAINN.org.
Peace Over Violence: http://peaceoverviolence.org/emergency/sexual-assault-rape.
Safe Horizon: http://www.safehorizon.org.
Safe Horizon’s Rape, Sexual Assault & Incest Hotline at 212-227-3000 or help@safehorizon.org (please allow 72 hrs for response)
“Rape Is” Support Center: http:www.rapeis.org/support.html
Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project (24 hour): 1-800-832-1901
National Child Abuse Hotline (24 hour): 1-800-422-4453

Infographic of Mental Illness Facts

Infographic of Mental Illness Facts

This is a wonderful infographic representing the prevalence of depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia throughout the United States. Mental Ilnness affects people of all ages and all cultural backgrounds.

1 in 17 Americans live with a serious mental illness
1 in 4 families have a relative that has a mental illness

We are all in some way impacted by mental illness.

Stand together to decrease stigma.

If you’d like to read more regarding USC’s MSW program &/or about the infographic presented above, please visit this link:  http://msw.usc.edu/mswusc-blog/facing-mental-illness-infographic/