*This is a special post written by Heart Centered Counseling’s own Lisa Michaels
April 8th would have been my little brother’s 37th birthday. Tragically Demetri committed suicide 7 years ago just before his 30th birthday. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss my little brother dearly and wish he were still here.
I’d like to send a message to people who are suffering in silence with suicidal thoughts:
It would be easy for me to say “if you are thinking of ending your life please get help.” However, this has been said so many times it’s a bit cliché. Because the truth is–often friends will let you down. Frankly, some of your friends (even close friends) just can’t handle it or don’t want to hear about it. And sometimes even counselors and doctors don’t understand what you’re going through. In addition, medication often doesn’t work and sometimes even makes things worse. The side effects can be awful. And our public mental health system is a dysfunctional institution. These are the real life challenges that people with mental illness face. It’s a multi-faceted problem and requires more than just saying “please get help,” because help is not always easy to access.
However, I’m still going to say this to those of you suffering: Don’t give up. It IS possible to find people who understand what you’re going through, and to find the right counselor and doctor. It really is. If you don’t like your counselor or doctor, ask around and find someone who specializes in mood disorders. Find someone who is compassionate and has been through it themselves. And please know that medication management is a journey. You may be onto something that works for a little while but then stops working and you have to try something new. Sometimes you have to try a combination of medications. This takes time and patience. That’s why frequent checkups with your doctor are important.
Again, don’t give up. I understand because I’ve been through the dark despair of a mood disorder. It is my life passion as a mental health counselor to help other people who’ve been through it. It’s very satisfying to be able to help people find ways to cope, be mindful and present with their feelings, and have hope.
Don’t let depression tell you to give up, or that you’re not worth it. You will have good days and bad days. Forget about being happy. Be real. Be present and conscious with your journey. Forget about what our culture tells us we are supposed to be. Instead embrace meaning. And live in the here and now.
In my work as a therapist I have discovered that the key to finding meaning and purpose in life is to make genuine connections with fellow human beings. Creating loving relationships and surrounding yourself with good people will give you a sense of connection, laughter, and peace. Be grateful and rejoice in the kindness of others.
You have a path that is all your own, and you have a unique contribution to make to this world. Don’t pass that up.