Daily Short-hOPT: Love and Compassion vs. Depression

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

Early in this blog endeavor, Noah wrote a piece entitled “What We Don’t Know“. This has been one of my favorite posts of his for multiple reasons, foremost among them the very truth of the matter. The gist is, we don’t know what battles the people we encounter every day are facing, thus, we should treat everyone with compassion, understanding, and love.

Last night, a legendary actor and comedian was found dead of an apparent suicide. Robin Williams was very much a part of my family’s life growing up. From ‘Aladdin’ to ‘Jumanji’ and ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’, his movies were woven into our family fabric. My younger brother and sister wore out our ‘Aladdin’ VHS tape, and later on, I would wear out ‘Good Will Hunting’ and ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ ones.

As someone who once dealt with depression, I can speak to the absolutely empty and helpless feelings that it evokes. A clouded mindset caused by depression often means that the victim believes that he or she can’t be helped, and that talking about it is a sign of weakness; worse, that if one speaks about it they will be seen as crazy or unstable. In cases where the courage is wrangled to speak about it, it is often met with an attitude of “suck it up” or “you just need to get over it”. Maybe this is a way for some to deliver a pep talk, but I can assure you, it only serves to send the suffering further down that desperate rabbit hole.

For those who do suffer with depression, you need to know that you can be helped. You don’t have to continue to feel the weight of the world. You’re not crazy. You can be happy. There is hope. You have to seek it. You have to decide that you’re done living a muted and miserable existence. You have to understand that your feelings are real and palpable (though some may not see it that way) and you have to decide that it’s time to change that. You have to reach out. Help is available. There are people who will understand you and talk you through it.

For those who have never had to deal with it, it is incumbent upon you to be there for those who need you. It is imperative that you also reach out to those around you who are hurting. Often, your job will be to simply listen and be there. You won’t always have to talk. Mostly, you’ll need to listen and offer support and encouragement. If someone seeks you out for help and guidance, please do not dismiss them. Please don’t give the “pep talk” I discussed above. It doesn’t help. I’ve mentioned listening twice in this paragraph, and let me mention it a third time: listen. Be there. Support. Encourage.

The world lost a fantastic human being last night, and though I didn’t know him or have any inkling of what he could have been dealing with, I can imagine that he fell into a place where he considered himself unredeemable. The fact is, none of us are. We don’t always know what battles people are fighting, but with a little effort and compassion, we can help them along their way. And, at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, you never know whose life you can save. Dramatic or not, think about how true that statement could actually be.

Have an awesome Tuesday,
-A.

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