June 27, 2016

Brian Blog

I was twelve years old and I remember the day as if it only happened yesterday. Me and my dad had just come out of The Book Shop in St John’s Precinct, Liverpool, and we decided to sit down in the canteen whilst we were waiting on my Mum and to sister to finish their shopping. He took out the book he just bought me which was Harry Potter and the order of Phoenix which I still haven’t read to this day (so for that I apologise dad!) although the message on the front page I read over and over again. 

The message reads “It’s easy to criticise, but it’s hard to understand” written in black pen by my dad, Eddie Herbert. At the time he wrote that message and explained it’s meaning, I wasn’t aware that he was suffering with depression. Sadly, two years later, in March 2006, he lost his battle with depression and took his own life and it was when dealing with his loss, that I fully understood the message he was telling me. 

The message was that we can easily criticise a person, however, until we know the full story, we will never understand what it is they are going through. The message he told fits perfectly with depression and I take his words and share them with those who read this article in the hope that by the end of it, they have a better understanding of depression and the effects it has on the individual. 

“Suicide is selfish”, “How can they be depressed when they have all that money”, “Just deal with it”. It is sad that in a world where so many lives our lost due to depression, these quotes are said so frequently. Therefore I am going to take each one of those quotes and explain why these are incorrect in the hope that it will change people’s perceptions of depression. 

“Suicide is selfish” – Suicide is not a selfish act, it is often the only option a person feels they have when their depression has overpowered them. Many people believe it to be selfish as they have left their loved ones behind; however a depressed person might feel that, by taking their own life, they will be a burden off their shoulders. So, in this sense, suicide is actually an act of unselfishness. They are doing what they feel is right for them and their family. It’s easy to criticise and say suicide is selfish, but it’s hard to understand why they do it until you know the full story. 

“How can they be depressed when they have all that money” – Robin Williams, Gary Speed, Robert Enke. These are just three names out of a number of famous people who took their own life due to depression. The message it tells us is that no matter what people may think money doesn’t buy happiness. Anyone in the world can be affected by depression whether you have £5 to your name or £5 million to your name. If you ask any famous people who have suffered with depression whether they would give up everything they had to overcome depression the answer you would get is yes. Spending X amount of money won’t help a person overcome depression, having people around them and getting the help required will. It’s easy to criticise rich and famous people who have depression, but unless you know the reasons why, it’s hard to understand. 

“Just deal with it” – Telling a person who suffers with depression to deal with it, is the same as telling a person who suffers with cancer to deal with it. Many people may disagree with me by saying cancer is a serious illness, however so is depression and it’s that message we need to get across. Yes, many lives our lost to cancer but many lives our lost to depression too. It is the leading cause of death of men under the age of 50. That alone should be enough for us to end the stigma surrounding depression and ensure more is done for those suffering. It’s easy for us to criticise someone we know and tell them to deal with whatever is going on in their life but unless we are living in their shoes, it’s hard for us to understand. 

By giving a brief explanation on these three quotes regarding depression, the message my dad told is quite clear. Rather than jump to conclusions and criticise people, we should take a step back and put ourselves in their shoes. Unless we know exactly what it is going on their life, it is hard for anyone but them to understand.

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depression and suicide

thanks for your blog brian you explain very clearly that suicide is not selfish and also that it is like having cancer when you are told just to deal with it regarding depression. i have lost loved ones to suicide two of whom were young men.we need to understand the isolation they face and the feeling that we will all be better off without them. i hope blogs like yours and other bits on here speak into really serious situations. thanks again.

Depression and Suicide

I currently suffer from depression and anxiety, while growing up I went to a "rich kid" school, my family had money, but not as much as the ones around me. I was severely bullied as a child and that resulted in my mental health decline. When this came out at school "Get over it, it wasn't so bad" and "it's all for attention" we're phrases I heard often. And while my family had money, some of the friends I made around my home, didn't and the "Her life is perfect, why does she complain" was an often heard sentence. I used to have suicidal tendencies and to talk me out of it my not-so-lovely friends would say that it would be selfish to leave them. I hope blogs like this one help people understand that these types of health problems are not simple to get over and last almost a lifetime.

Brian's blog

I couldn't have put your blog any better.I say most days to people if you haven't suffered it you have no idea how debilitating this illness truly is. A friend once said the difference between someone having cancer is they want to live someone with severe mental health issues wants to die.My children have nothing to do with me even though I send messages hope you all okay love mum and nana.No reply.I'm 52 on the outside I look happy and always immaculately dressed even on the worst days.On the inside behind closed doors I just want to die and let them all have peace then I don't have to torture myself about not seeing the children or grandchildren. Your blog explains it so well and I am sure when anything does happen to me the children might realise I wasn't wanting attention,I arnt mental I just have a very cruel illness and needed their support.

Hi Heather,

Hi Heather, I am so sorry to hear how you feel and for your children having no contact with you. The reason I write blogs like this is to help people understand just how serious depression is. You are correct, it is a cruel illness, however it is an illness that can be managed with the right help. There are many organisations who can help you deal with what you are going through and you should know that you don't have to fight it alone. I know it isn't easy opening up about having depression, however I am sure once you get it off your chest, it will feel like a weight has been lifted and you can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I sincerely hope that one day your children realise what they are missing and accept you back in their lives.

reply to Brian

Hi Brian, I talk openly about my mental health have done since I was 13 and anorexic now 52.I have a fantastic CPN who I have just cancelled today as I can't face anyone today.A doctor put on my notes don't be fooled by the way Heather dresses,hair immaculate,nails,lovely smile well dressed.This is so true I have my I don't have any problems face and I want to die and end this misery.I have tried lots of things over the years but nothing has worked.I know my main issue is I need to accept my body but I can't.If someone says I look well I say you mean I look FAT!! I have an ileostomy bag from laxative abuse and dieting but I can't stop it .It's the cruellest hidden illness ever.

know the feeling

share your pain. so sorry Heather to hear you live like i do.

It's good that you are able

It's good that you are able to speak openly about your depression as many people can't find the strength to do that. It is so easy to hide the hurt you are feeling with a smile, something my dad did often. Reading what you say about wanting to end your misery is sad to hear and I hope you can find a way out of the dark room you are in. I'm not a mental health nurse or have any qualifications in helping those in positions like yourself, however I felt obliged to reply to you as I couldn't just ignore what you said. I don't know if my words will help you, however I really do hope you can get past the thought of wanting to end your misery. I don't know you Heather, but the fact you have openly talked about your mental health since an early age shows what a strong person you are.

So True

Brian, Excellent blog. I get so angry when someone calls suicide selfish or the person who committed suicide a coward. As you mention, until they've walked in those shoes, they have no right to make that type of judgment. Depression is an illness. I've been there. I love my four little children and my wife incredibly, yet was very close to taking my own life. The thoughts of suicide were powerful, overwhelming, and pervasive. The feeling of being a burden to others was incapacitating. Once I had decided on a plan, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Once I started to dream about it, I finally took time off from work and checked into rehab. As you mention, depression is a very serious illness and needs to be taken as seriously as any other. There's a death by suicide every 12.3 minutes & an attempt every 29.5 SECONDS in the US. It's time we take depression & suicide seriously and work at eliminating the stigma. Thank you again for sharing your powerful story. My story and blog posts are at allevin18.wordpress.com.

move on

I am sorry for your loss,i am depressed too,so exhausted everyday,nobody can feel my feelings,i hope you have a good future,best wishes 4 u.

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