I seem to have talked about depression and anxiety a lot lately. Compounding life events can take their toll, and little by little that inherent worry or sadness begins to feel like you’re going mad, being crushed by the weight of it all. Sometimes it can be simpler than than; a single, impactful moment in your life can send you on a downward spiral through sadness into utter despair, like the disembodied shards of a glass ventricle.
Depression and anxiety can also be silent killers. An article on anxiety.org (an American site) highlights depression, anxiety and suicide “linkage was established as early as 370 BCE with Hippocrates”.
Closer to home, Beyond Blue lists a number of statistics around depression, anxiety and suicide. Amazingly, one of the statistics linked to depression states that it is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It also goes further to draw on Australian census information from 2008, to show that at any one particular time, over 3 million Australians are experiencing depression and/or anxiety.
3 million people, right now.
Chances are, given that the numbers of affected people are so high, you know someone experiencing problems right now. And you seriously might have no idea that they are suffering.
High stakes behaviour is often mysterious to others. You might not be able to tell what is going on under the surface, like a duck on the surface of a pond. I came across this really interesting article that discusses habits of people with concealed depression (awarenessact.com). In it, various examples are cited; muted cries for help, abnormal sleep, strange eating habits, and so forth. These might all seem like pretty easy examples to spot, but they can manifest in different ways that we might miss if we’re not asking the right questions, or paying attention to subtlety in responses.
There’s no simple way to know what or how to ask, to uncover someone’s hidden pain. That being said, it’s usually a lot easier to ask the harder, more personal, or difficultly intimate questions of the ones closest to us. We all know someone, and it’s a fantastic place to start; checking in on the people that matter the most to us.
Sometimes… just sometimes, talking about what is going on can help someone else’s suffering. Getting all of that weight off their chest, in their own way and on their own terms, could mean the world and prevent disaster. In aid of that relief, we all need to try and follow some of the dialogue best-practices: listen to others, respect their voice without judgement, and suspend our own voice and inputs to provide them the space they may need.
Sometimes, a simple question is all it might take to help someone in need.