I had lunch with a good friend at a good restaurant today and he brought up the topic of depression. He was shocked to hear that I had received a clinical diagnosis of depression in my early adulthood and have struggled with it most of my life. He asked how I deal with it and it dawned on me that my coping mechanism has always been to find someone who needs assistance and do what I can to help them. I had exceptional role models on this front growing up, as my father and grandmother both went out of their way to help anyone in need that they came across. All this time I thought I was emulating them, when I was really just self-medicating. It’s difficult to feel depressed about your own situation when your feeding someone who hasn’t ate in a few days, visiting someone with ALS or building a home for somebody who’s struggled with spousal abuse and subsequent addiction issues.
In no way do I make light of any form of mental illness, especially when 22 of my veteran brothers and sisters take their lives each day in this country. Nor am I arrogant or simple enough to think that my approach is a one size fits all cure for everyone who deals with depression. There are different levels to this disease, as well as different precursors. If you are struggling, please seek out professional assistance. But also know that giving back is a powerful medicine that will also sooth the soul and bring you closer to your maker.
*** I am in no way offering any medical advice here. Always seek assistance from a doctor trained to deal with depression if you are experiencing symptoms.