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Find support through Depressed Anonymous

By: Rich Scherbel

Date Posted: 2001-05-18

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. 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. 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 life and ourselves in general.

It affects 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 also affects 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 succeeding.

There are indeed many people out there who live with this type of disability. The biggest problem that they run into 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.

I remember an incident that caused me to not talk about my illness. I was diagnosed with depression over eight 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 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. We need to be with others who understand so that we can overcome the illness’ hold on our lives. Those of us over here on Okinawa find it difficult to find those who can help us because of the limited resources available.

Depressed Anonymous is an option that will be added to the resources available. It is a 12-step program, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, which is specifically designed to help people 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 depression-free. The group is open to those who have a depressive illness and will be run by those who suffer from the same illness. It allows you to meet 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.

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 929-3199 or you can E-mail me at Rich Scherbel.

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