Hey guys, Dana here. Long time no talk. It's been a while, I know. The last time I was in the writing realm, it was back in January when I discussed the 5 cent charge on plastic bags in Suffolk County. Today is different. Today, I'm here to talk to you all about mental health.
I'll start with something personal. Yesterday afternoon, I found out an old friend of mine from several years ago took his own life. I haven't seen, talked to, or even thought of that friend since I was maybe 18 or 19 years old. When I found out that he left this world, I was stunned. I wish we never lost touch with each other all those years ago. I couldn't stop thinking about him. It broke my heart that he was so depressed and lonely that he took his own life thinking that nobody would care that he left. Nobody should ever feel that way. To tell you the truth, I've had my share of low points in my life as well. I was bullied in elementary school, middle school, and high school. During my sophomore year of high school, I was in "a relationship" with a sociopath who lead me to believe that the things he did to me were my fault. I struggled with earning my associate's and bachelor's degree in college. I was at the end of my rope when I was job hunting. I was fighting with my parents left and right. I felt like I failed them because I didn't have a job straight out of college. I wasn't living on my own. I struggled with my weight and self esteem. I understand how horrible and unfair life can be. Life can get really difficult, unexpected situations can rock your world. But it doesn't mean that death is the only solution to resolve what life throws at you.
Depression is a disease within your head that makes you believe that you are not worth it. You don't matter. Life is not worth living. Nobody loves you. Nobody would miss you if you were gone. That's how heartbreakingly powerful depression is, and how it takes over your life. Your own mind is fighting against you. But nobody actually pays attention or takes it seriously until somebody well known takes his/her own life. Robin Williams, Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Verne Troyer, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain: a comedian, two musicians, an actor, a designer, and a chef had mental health issues and nobody knew because everyone thinks famous people don't struggle with depression, bi-polar, OCD, any other chemical imbalance. Even if you have it all; wealth, a family, a legacy, all of those things do not buy happiness. It doesn't matter how successful you are in this world. Fame does not equate happiness, and sometimes a smile is just a facade to mask what's really going on inside their minds. You need to open your eyes and realize that there is more than just what you see on the surface. Depression is more than just "the blues." It isn't something where you can easily say "get over it." It's all in your head." Don't ever belittle someone who struggles with anxiety, depression, bi-polar, or anything. The brain is an organ just like your lungs, your pancreas, your liver, your prostate, any organ that is diagnosed with a disease. Mental health is not something to take lightly and ignore it if it becomes an inconvenience to you. You need to check up on your loved ones ALL the time; keep them close, reach out, make plans to meet up for a cup of coffee, invite them places, anything to remind them that they are loved and cherished.
Being kind to one another can prevent these situations too. Every day I sign onto Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, all of the social media sites we know, and somebody has to say something insulting, stir the pot, push people to point out somebody's insecurities and make them feel less than what they're worth. AND PEOPLE LOVE IT. Why? Why is "being a troll" more acceptable than being a decent human being? Why is being disrespectful getting more praise than kindess and compassion? Yes, disagreements are a part of every day life. Yes, we don't always have to get along with each other. But is it really that hard to be a decent human being to someone you barely know? Better yet, You have no idea how a simple smile, a kind gesture, or any random act of kindness can brighten someone's day. Compliments can literally turn someone's day around. Tell a stranger you like their shirt. Tell your co-worker that you appreciate them. Lend someone some spare change if they come up short when they're getting a sandwich at the deli. Thank the Starbucks barrista and wish him/her well. Wouldn't you like it if somebody said something sweet to you? Especially if you were having a terrible day? You and I both know how heartwarming a little act of kindness can be, and how far it can go.
With that being said, I want to remind you of something that I tell everyone I become friends with, or if we just got to know each other, you get to know this now. If at any moment in your life you feel like you are at the end of your rope, I want you to know that you can always come to me with anything that is threatening you. If you have my cell number, I want you to call me. I don't care what time it is. I don't care if I'm sleeping. I don't care if I have work in the morning. I don't care if we haven't talked in a long time. I don't care if the last time we spoke, we were fighting. I want you to talk to me, and I will not leave or hang up until I know that you are okay. My phone ringer is on loud every night for a reason. I'd rather get a phone call at 4am to talk you out of suicide than a phone call at 4am to find out that you're gone. If you believe that no one will miss you if you killed yourself, that is untrue. I will never leave your side. I will never let you fall so far down to the point of no return. I am your friend who will never make you feel ashamed or embarrassed if you come to me with anything that makes you consider the unthinkable. I promise with every fiber of my being that if you come to me, you will find an open mind, a non-judgemental ear, and arms to hug you until you're okay to enough to take a deep breath and realize that you are not alone. I may not be able to 100% fix the issues you have, but I promise to hold your hand and walk beside you until the storm subsides. Please remember that, my friends. I love you all. Don't ever forget that. Have a good weekend, and I will return to the writing realm again.