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The Way to Deal with Devastating, Debilitating Depression

By: Rich Scherbel

Date Posted: 2000-07-01

Life has its ups and downs. Sometimes these roller coaster emotions become overwhelming and we look for someone – a friend, a loved one, a counselor, a religious leader -- to help assist us in getting through these events. What happens if these feelings become too overwhelming or we cannot find the support we need? If these feelings are not identified and steps taken to alleviate them, we can find ourselves falling into the trap of depression.

Depression is a common form of mental illness that effects people from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. It is very devastating, especially for those of us who are afflicted with it. Its hold on us can be very debilitating. We become disenchanted with ourselves and lose perspective on who we are. Our self-esteem is lowered and this causes us to feel less satisfied with ourselves and life in general.

It effects almost everything we do or any relationships that we have. We find ourselves wanting to escape life and its pressures through a variety of different avenues – sleep, decrease in social contacts, death. These feelings, or emotional deadness, are consistently so overwhelming that it effects those around us. Family and friends become overwhelmed with our emotional instability and sometimes this results in the loss of that relationship, which in turn, continues the never ending spiral towards emotional oblivion.

It is said that 15 million people in the United States alone suffer from some form of Depressive Illness and tens of thousands of those individuals attempt suicide every year, with 16,000 of those who succeed in these attempts. When people think about the depressed person, they believe that these people are bed ridden and unable to function in society; however, approximately 75% of those who are clinically depressed, lead full and active life styles.

When you look at these figures there are a large number of people out there who live with this type of disability. The problem that they run in to, for the most part, is the public's and their families' impressions, phobias, and misunderstandings about mental illnesses. Often, these individuals are left to live with this illness themselves because of the negative beliefs that they face. They find that some people don't understand them and their altered views on society and themselves.

The media feeds these negative attitudes and misperceptions. They show those with mental illnesses as unusual and sometimes dangerous to society. These attitudes often cause the public to react negatively to those of us who suffer daily as a result of our illnesses.

I remember an incident that caused me to not talk about my illness because of these phobias. I was diagnosed with Depression over 8 years ago while working in the United States Military as a Mental Health Paraprofessional. When I was released from active duty and retired medically for this illness, I found that I needed to find employment to help my family live.

It was during one of my interviews I learned that the public’s misunderstanding and phobias still existed. One of the interviews I attended, I was asked why I left my last job. I explained that I no longer worked for the military was because of my illness. The interviewer became quiet for a few seconds then asked, “Are you dangerous?” I don’t remember what I answered, but I learned quickly that there are several people out there who don’t understand mental illnesses and that it was best not to talk about my illness to others.

This awakening has caused a lot of pain. The attitudes faced by those of us who suffer can be very overwhelming, so we are constantly in search for those who understand. We need to be with others who understand so that we can overcome the illness’ hold on our lives; however, those of us over here on Okinawa find it difficult to find those who can help us because of the limited resources available to us, until now.

Depressed Anonymous is another option that will be added to the resources available for those of us who are suffering from depression. It is a 12-step program, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, which is specifically designed to help those of us suffering from depression to escape its grasp and return to “normal” emotional stability.

It is not designed to replace current therapies or treatments, but to be used in addition to them to help the depressed person talk about what they are feeling and what they can do to become depressed-free. The group is open to those who have a depressive illness and will be ran by those who suffer from the same illness. It allows you to meet with people who have suffered and understand the emotions and feelings that you experience on a day-to-day basis. You will find acceptance, friendship, and fellowship in an environment of understanding and support.

This 12-step Depressed Anonymous support group was started in 1985 and is currently available throughout the United States and the world. The members of the group are there to offer support and understanding that most of us cannot find through our other resources. Its principles will assist you in overcoming the depression.

The goal with this group would be to provide a safe and anonymous place for those who suffer with this disorder to go and receive supportive help from their peers. A place where they can receive advice and feedback from those who have lived with the disease themselves and have learned to develop alternative coping skills to live through and with this illness.

Let’s begin together on our roads to recovery. If you currently suffer from this debilitating disease and want a place to go that can help you overcome the negative emotions in a safe environment, I would encourage you to give me a call at 090-3793-0458 or 934-5014.

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