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Healing From Depression- One Story At A Time

First Kate Spade, then today Anthony Bourdain- two inspirational and influential lives lost to suicide. I’m a huge advocate of depression awareness but when news like this hits, I go into silence. This is how depression works, once you experience it you carry the scar for the rest of your life. You also know that you’re not completely free from it and that it can revisit you when you least expect it. Then you remember the last time you hit rock bottom, when thoughts of suicide crossed your mind swiftly yet calmly, like sweet forbidden fantasy.

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You know those national suicide helpline numbers that get passed around whenever a public figure commits suicide? I called that number before when I was severely depressed with a 21 months old baby and 5 weeks old newborn. A dark cloud followed me everywhere and I knew something was wrong. A nice sounding woman picked up the phone and asked me a series of questions. She asked me if I was suicidal and I said yes, somewhat but not really. I wasn’t sure. Then she proceeded to ask me more questions and the questions got so overwhelming that I just hung up on her.

I couldn’t even get through the National Suicide Helpline protocol because I had nothing left to give..no solution, no answer, no decision. I was just empty and disconnected. Thank God I had some strength left in me to fight this debilitating disorder. I still had will to live and babies to protect. In some ways, motherhood both destroyed and saved me.

I couldn’t even get through the National Suicide Helpline protocol because I had nothing left to give..no solution, no answer, no decision. I was just empty and disconnected.

I don’t yet have a simple solution on how we can help. I’m not sure if a simple solution even exists. But you know what would’ve helped me when I was depressed? It’s not simply sharing national helpline numbers, it’s not words like “I hope you feel better” or “I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.” It’s not starting your sentence with “I never dealt with depression but….” because right there, you’ve already lost that person.

In my experience, what helps is HONESTY, VULNERABILITY AND CONNECTION- honestly sharing your story and making the person not feel like they are an anomaly. It’s admitting that you too, feel depressed or anxious sometimes. It’s about embracing and normalizing their pain because you too, know what that feels like.

We’re all human and we all feel emotional highs and lows. Yes some people feel it more than others but we all know what pain feels like. Just remember THAT and be courageously vulnerable. Don’t distance yourself from depression. Share your story. Be willing to open your heart, even to another person you may not understand completely at the moment. Hold them close and tell them you understand. Tell them you’ve been there too, but that giving up is not the answer.

We’re all human and we all feel emotional highs and lows. Yes some people feel it more than others but we all know what pain feels like. Just remember THAT and be courageously vulnerable. Don’t distance yourself from depression. Share your story. Be willing to open your heart, even to another person you may not understand completely at the moment. Hold them close and tell them you understand. Tell them you’ve been there too, but that giving up is not the answer.

What they are looking for (whether consciously or subconsciously) is connection…..non-judgemental HUMAN connection. Not problem-solving and logical explanations, not recommending therapists and numbers (although this will help at the next step), not telling them things like “I never struggled with depression but….” Most likely the person who is depressed is already feeling disconnected, isolated, and misunderstood and the last thing he/she needs to hear is that you don’t suffer from the very thing that is debilitating for them.

Don’t ask why. Don’t give them reasons to not be depressed. Don’t judge them by saying but you have this and that! Just say I understand and accept. Even better, me too.

Don’t ask why. Don’t give them reasons to not be depressed. Don’t judge them by saying but you have this and that! Just say I understand and accept. Even better, me too.

I’m still at a loss for words. I hear that suicide rates are rising in America. I know suicide has been a huge problem in my Motherland South Korea for decades. I’m still processing my sadness and trying to understand why recent suicide deaths affect me so much. But my first step is sharing my honest recollection about how depression affected my life and my motherhood.

You’re not alone. I lived through it to share my story. You can find more of my honest accounts here.

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