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Please Don’t Open This Can-O-Worms!

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Monday, March 01, 2021

How wonderful to live in a perfect world, surrounded by beauty, caressed by blue skies and warm sunshine.

These were happy times a few years ago when I made this hanging basket for a friend.

And a chapter of my life as a photographer-having a love for nature and capturing people being natural.

But we all know life has many shades, and just as there is day, night follows.
“Don’t open a can of worms” was the tone after someone asked for help in a virtual group of writers that I belong to.

A woman asked for help in creating a fictional character who experiences severe depression and reaches a pivotal point. She said she knew little about depression, therefore, asked for insight. She said she was afraid of offending anyone who had suffered with depression. “Any advice would be greatly appreciated.” Read on to see some of the comments:

“You need to do some research.” (said by several)
“That is too sensitive of a subject to broach so you should find something else.”
“The person who is depressed just needs to have their thyroid and ferritin levels checked.” (three people agreed)
“I would avoid the subject altogether.” In other words, “do not open this can of worms!”
I have to say I was stunned! She asked for help and I had something firsthand to offer. This was my reply:

"Imagine the worst day of your life and multiply it by 365 days! That is what it was like until I eventually got through it."

“ I know how it feels to feel alone and hopeless. Slept little. But when I did, had nightmares. Had no appetite and the smell of food was sickening. There is a pervasive feeling that no one understands. It was a time of darkness thinking the sun would never shine again. It went on forever—months into over a year. Some just looked at me. I saw a therapist who scribbled on her notepads while I talked. We made little eye contact, but I noticed her often looking at the clock. So textbook. I was put on medications which worsened the situation. I was a zombie. I did not laugh nor did I cry—for one solid year.”

But for the few people I have met in my lifetime who have said, “I can’t relate to depression. I choose happiness end of story” … I can only say:

I had an in-law tell me to “Nike Up!..."Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!" ... Yet ironically this same person recently told me she has been dealing with depression and was put on ‘mood elevators.’ Also keeps tranquilizers on hand. I refrained from telling her to “Nike Up!”

Were it not for my husband's undying love, I shudder to think where I would be today. I doubt I would be here sparking!

Depression and anything considered "mental disorders" unfortunately still remains a stigma for many. It is safe to tell someone that you just got over a bad cold, suffer with allergies, but depression has a face all its own.

What can we do to help others and ease their pain? I think the first thing is to be aware; make note of changes in someone you know. Withdrawal is a classic sign. Be willing to listen. I try to keep in mind: I have not walked in their shoes—judgment is not mine to make.

"The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said" --Peter Drucker

I found this to be an extraordinary story of deep love and devotion between a man and his chocolate Labrador, named Denver. The author experienced the lengths and depths of undying love, but sadly was plummeted to the depths of despair at Denver's sudden passing. In his beloved pets honor, he made the trek of the Viking way-186 miles. I am fortunate to have gotten to know this wonderful gentleman from UK and had some meaningful chats.

With spring soon to come, I wish you blue skies and sunshine. emoticon Thanks for reading.
P.S. I am ever thankful for the spark community where no one should suffer 'in silence' but find a listening ear--full of support and kindness. I have found it here and made some wonderful friends!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Interesting and thought provoking and sad.
    73 days ago
    I can say this - living with a depressed person is heartbreakingly difficult. The feeling of helplessness is just horrible. I have to stand by while someone I love screams at me - as loudly as she can - that she WANTS.TO.DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is a person who is taking medication for depression and getting counseling. Mental illness is not something that can be overcome by 'choosing happiness.' I wish it were.
    73 days ago
    I am sitting here trying to figure out what to say. Depression is a horrible disease. People come up with such horrible advice. Nike up!!! That is a good one. Don't they think we would love to Nike Up. We don't want to be depressed we hate being depressed we would give anything to feel the warm of day instead of the endless darkness. I am sure these people think they are helping. But all they are doing is making us feel worse as if we should just bounce up and saying everything is just fine and dandy. If we do that what we are usually doing is burying our feelings so no one knows we are hurting and that just makes everything more hopeless. We need to use words that don't "attack" the person. Don't tell them what they need to do instead listen to what they are saying or better yet listen to what they are not saying. Really pay attention when you realize someone is hurting. Just sit with them no words needed unless they ask and then be gentle. Let them know you care - the person may not appreciate it but your words might help to reach the person deep inside that so wants help but doesn't know how or what to do. Try hard to reach them before the darkness gets so bad that they think they have no other choice but to die. They know it will be better than. Not all people get to the point but one too many do.

    Well that was not what I thought I was going to say. This is not everyone's story and yes it is my story. Yes I was so depressed at one time I did try to kill myself. THANK GOD and that is a prayer that I was not successful. It was my His grace that I lived. I was not sure why in the beginning why I was not successful but I learned a lot from that experience. First I realized I was acting out my parents wish for me - that I would die. 2nd I learned that if a doctor puts you on medication (which she had me on stuff before I tried to kill myself) to asked questions. My mother was addicted to drugs so I did not take the medication the way I should have hence it was not helping me. My doctor apologized to me when she saw me again because she knew my past and did not think to tell me I could not get addict to this stuff. I learned this lesson so when in late 2019 I realized I could not get my depression under control my doctor and I discussed what medication for me to try. She told me if it did not work to let her know and she would slowing bring me off them NOT TO STOP COLD TURKEY!!! Well I learned my lesson so I started taking them and within a week I knew I was in serious trouble. My depression was worse and I was going nuts. Called the doctor and she was out of town. So I left a message for her to call me when she got back which she did. She felt so bad and she was so shocked that the symptoms I had only 3% of the people had them so she figured I would have no problem. She got me off them fast and said once the pill was out of my system we would try another one. I said no thanks I can handle depression better than what happened after I took the pills. But I watch and make sure if it is getting bad that I reach out to her. Another lesson I learned is that I can relate to someone who is depressed. I describe how it feels it may not be exactly how they feel but they know I understand what they are going through. I am finding I am able to express to someone when they wonder why someone doesn't just reach out for help or just get better or whatever. I can explain what it feels like to be depressed. That yes we would love to be happy and be depressed.

    Sorry for going on and on. I didn't realized that there was a lot I have learned in my 73 years.

    If I offended anyone I apologize that is not my intent. I am just sharing my story it is not your story and it is not necessary any other depressed person's story.
    73 days ago
    I'm glad everything worked out. Have a great Tuesday.
    73 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    73 days ago
  • DJC2021
    Excellent blog Jan. Some very interesting responses to your blog too. This is the very reason why I keep coming back to Sparkpeople. I think people are becoming more aware of mental health issues. I hope the stigma is disappearing. Thanks for sharing. emoticon
    73 days ago
    I don't know why there is such a stigma attached to depression. It can happen to anyone, at anytime and when you least expect it.

    Thank you for this posting this blog and sharing your story, Jan.

    73 days ago
    emoticon with you Jan. It is really a shame that so many are still so uncomfortable broaching the subject of Depression. It takes courage to ask for help and to be ignored or made to feel "less than" makes things so much worse.

    I dated a boy in High School who was good at everything..............he was Valedictorian of our class, excelled at every sport and won a football scholarship to a University that most of us would feel very lucky to attend. His father was the reason for his depression. He was one of 6 kids; he looked the most like his father (which I always felt was one of the reasons that his father chose him to abuse because he hated himself); if this boy didn't do the job at a sport that his Dad thought he should, he beat him; he would promise him the family car for a date and take away the permission right before he should leave for the date; and the list goes on and on. It took quite a while before he finally revealed all of this to me. I could tell that things just were not right between he and his father, but he would never talk about it. After we had been dating for about a year, he finally let bits of information out until I knew everything. I knew that it helped him to be able to talk to me and I finally convinced him to talk to our Guidance Counselor who brought another counselor in who had even more experience with this kind of abuse and depression. The counselor was excellent and helped him a lot. Luckily, this boy was a Senior when he worked with the counselor and when he went to the University, he didn't come to his home anymore. Holidays were spent at our house. This was my first actual experience with depression, but my guidance counselor said that LISTENING to him and not discounting his problems led to other areas of help which was a real learning experience for me and good training for working with students as a teacher.
    I am so glad that you found your husband. He sounds like a real keeper...............as do you. emoticon
    73 days ago
  • JAMER123
    Most people don't understand the different depressions that can happen to one person. And most people don't have any idea as to how to deal with someone going through a tough spot and then there are those that continue to push the buttons of the depressed.

    Thanks for a great blog again. emoticon
    73 days ago
    Oh Jan I'm so happy you found your your way out , , , glad you met your DH to help you along the way . . .

    emoticon to both of you!!!!!
    73 days ago
    thank you for writing about this, i had major depression at 16. my dad left the family i had to care for my 4 siblings while my mom worked, she took out all her anger on me and I was sad and couldnt eat and cried all day once i got out of school how i survived i dont know , glad you made it also,
    73 days ago

    I don't know why people don't like to talk about it, but my mother went thru a severe depression,
    and to this day I don't know the whole story, never will now. I was too young to know the details.
    Unless you have been through it, don't judge someone who has depression. Letting someone talk
    sometimes, is the best thing you can do for them.
    73 days ago
  • AURA18
    Thank-you for sharing your experience.
    This quote is amazing show of empathy.
    "The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said" --Peter Drucker
    73 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/2/2021 8:33:26 AM
    I just try to ignore it and keep up with what has to be done. Not really happy though.
    73 days ago
    I’ve been on antidepressants for years. Was weaned off and fine for about 6 months and then I could feel myself spiraling down again. Got back on my meds and doing well. Have accepted that I will probably be on my meds for life. I don’t want to spiral down again. emoticon For opening up a discussion. It needs to be talked about and acknowledged that you can’t just pull yourself out of it! emoticon
    73 days ago
  • LINDA!
    I have been diagnosed with Major Depression Disorder. I was diagnosed in 2008 after living with this condition most of my life. I will always suffer from it, however, I do take Celexa as a result. My parents did believe it to be a stigma to see a psychiatrist. It is a shame. When we have an illness we see a doctor - I see no difference in seeing a psych when we have issues that we cannot treat ourselves. I am so happy that I finally decided to overcome any embarrassment and seek help.

    It is sad that so many people cannot accept that some people need a little help and cannot just "snap out of it."

    Great blog, as always!!
    73 days ago
  • HOLLYM48
    As someone who has never suffered from depression, I cannot imagine how horrible it must be. My daughter unfortunately does suffer from this disease, and it has been so very eye opening to hear how it effects her. You can't just get over it, you can't just choose joy, if only it could be that easy. I am so glad you had the support of your husband and you were able to get through it eventually. Every day is a battle for someone, let us all treat each other kindly as we don't know what their battle is.
    Sending hugs to you!
    73 days ago
    Depression lies to you. It tells you things like you aren’t worthy and no one would miss you. It makes you believe it would be better if you weren’t here. It is such a scary lonely place to be locked in your brain and it really is a chemical imbalance throwing your whole system off. Exercise and diet help but, knowing your body and signs are important. Thank you for posting such an important blog!
    73 days ago
    emoticon emoticon Awesome blog!
    I know what you speak of firsthand on the stigma of mental disorders. I think they are sometimes worse that physical problems. My Dad never believed I have a real diagnosed anxiety/panic disorder or seasonal effective disorder. He has told me many comments similar to the "Nike Up" comment.
    Sorry you went through depression like that. Sounds like you're better now and that's good.
    Big emoticon glad were friends!

    73 days ago
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    73 days ago
  • KURTZIE1998
    That was great, your amazing, very talented
    73 days ago
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    73 days ago
    So many responses. While I was pregnant with our 2nd child in 1974, I told an OB that I was so depressed I couldn't handle it. He said, 'Handle it.' I immediately asked someone in my Lamaze class about her doctor. The next day she took me to her appointment. I told the receptionist I was looking for a new doctor. In a few minutes I was called into the exam room. The doctor spent 45 minutes with me. I told him, 'I'm so depressed, I can't handle it.' HIS response, 'Look at what you've been through in the last year.' Just that confirmation was enough to give me a boost.

    However, during the next year I still had problems. One day, I felt nothing. It was a day to rejoice because I didn't feel depressed. Walking with my husband and children, I was feeling good and told my husband, 'This is the first time I haven't felt depressed since we moved here.' He asked if I'd been depressed. DUH?

    We moved 3 more times in 17 years. Our hospital was offering free depression testing. My husband suggested I go. (I thought he was depressed.) My score indicated depression. My family doctor prescribed medication and I was doing fine on it. Then I weaned off. A few years later, I started seeing a psychiatrist and he prescribed a low-dose antidepressant. When I mentioned adverse side effects, he switched meds.

    For more than 10 years, I saw a social worker every month. The last one retired a few months after my mother died. I said, 'I'll go it alone until I need help.' Three years later, I'm doing fine. I still take a minimum dose medication for chemical imbalance.

    When I see the darkness in some people, I reach out and talk to them. Acknowledgement of the darkness helps.
    73 days ago

    Thank you for speaking and sharing your truth. We are taught to suffer in silence when it comes to our mental health. ..thank you for bringing this out into the light emoticon
    73 days ago
    Awesome blog 2B. 19 days until spring, and yes, I wish you blue skies and sunshine!
    73 days ago
    That can of worms can be in many forms. And you were correct in telling the other writer....."Don't Go there, change your character, and so many other forms saying ...This is not the time, or place, so Do Your OWN Research!"

    73 days ago
    What a sensitive understanding response you gave.I loved the book "Denver's Wat"Experiencing depression yourself allows you compassion for others..It requires hard work to overcome depression and anyone who offers true compassion is helping.Thank you for sharing.
    73 days ago
    Jan, you did an amazing job of offering that person some insight into dealing with depression. If a person hasn’t experienced it themselves, it is hard to understand.

    The best advice I’ve gotten for depression is:

    First, get yourself checked out by your primary doctor. Be open and honest about what you are feeling. Sometimes an unexpected physical condition can cause depression.

    Second, tell your partner or parents how you feel. (They can possibly offer you some support/ help). Then seek out a mental health professional. Remember that your friends/family aren’t mental health specialists.

    Third, double check that you are comfortable with your doctors and therapists. Do they listen and respect you? This one is key to your improvement.

    Fourth, take a look at your diet, sleep patterns, job expectations and relationships. Do you see any areas that need to be improved? Your doctors and mental health specialists may be able to help you take back control of your life.

    I went through this several times myself. Once when I lost 6 people (friends and family) in 4 years. And..I became hyperthyroid and then hypothyroid. The second time my hormone system got messed up and I went through menopause completely at 41. The third time was recently. I suffered a traumatic brain injury in the part of the brain that controls emotions, body temperature, speech, memory and balance. Every time, I went through the steps that I listed above. I found them to be very helpful for me. But...everyone is unique in what they experience. What works for one may not work for someone else. That is why we need help if we’re going through depression!
    73 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/1/2021 2:00:40 PM
    Those responses were amazing - from people who obviously had not experienced depression or did not want to talk about their own that they were not willing to own up to. I was raised in a family that was all "just get on with it". When I finally talked to someone (at age 41) their response was "I think you have been clinically depressed since you were 14". What an eye-opener!

    Having a person or group that is willing to just listen helps enormously.
    73 days ago
  • LPORTER2015
    Such a wonderful way to help her out and to bring awareness to such a difficult topic to discuss.
    73 days ago
  • NANCY-
    So sad that she was shut down and how kind of you to assist. We are not taught how to assist or react to depressive states or other mental issues. Thankfully things are getting more out in the open and there is more understanding.
    73 days ago
  • EDWARDS1411
    Sadly the stigma still prevails, but the more information and discussion, the better the understanding and thus more compassion. Thanks for sharing!!
    73 days ago
    Depression (sometimes suicidal depression) has been part of my life on and off for the past 25 years or more. Thank you for broaching such an important topic.
    74 days ago
    Thank you for taking the lid off of that Can o' Worms for a bit. I've been depressed but not suffered the depression you're talking about. I know a few people who have and I have felt helpless and ill-equipped around them. I'm glad you responded honestly and helpfully to that other writer.
    74 days ago
    Thank you for this blog. It should be read by everyone with an open mind to learn about their nearest and dearest or just a neighbor. (((HIGS)))
    74 days ago
  • 4CYNDI
    Thanks for sharing such a sensative topic. So glad you got through it. I have too walked through depression (some of it chemically induced I think from pain medications), not as severe as yours though. I am glad there are those out there who care enough to write about it and brign it into the light.
    74 days ago
    After my mum died, I had a wonderful dr. I was also going through a divorce, had lost my job and recently moved house. Oh, and my sister and I had fallen out.
    “I think I’m depressed,” I said.
    “You have earned it.” Said the dr. “What would you like to do? Anti-depressants?” I said, no, that I wanted counselling, which is what I got, with a great nurse for a couple of months. It really helped. We all need different help and differing amounts of time to,’get through periods of depression’.
    74 days ago
    Until you have walked in someone's ... moccasins.

    Hubby suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2007 during a motorcycle accident with several deer. Since then he is "bipolar". We spend time being subdued and quiet ... not necessarily depressed.

    Then the world is WIDE open and he talks non-stop, takes on every project he has thought about, remembers everything he has read ... he is brilliant ... and everything that has happened to him. If we keep him this side of those realities ... life is manageable. If not ... a psychotic break happens and ... nothing is manageable. We are on the edge now.

    Our son in law stated ... Dad needs to JUST CHILL.

    74 days ago
    Thanks Jan for reminding us that some people are hurting even if we can't see it. Unfortunately society still points fingers and whispers behind the back of those suffering depression. I wish it was something we could just say to people when they ask "how is your day going?" Wouldn't it be great if we could just say '' my day stinks! I am really feeling down and can't figure out how to feel up again!' But if you do that they walk away and don't understand. Depression isn't something any of us ask for, just like the flu. None the less many suffer for years with those symptoms.
    God bless you for writing about a subject that is as old as time but still taboo to talk about. So sad!
    74 days ago
    I've been to some VERY dark places and like you had a superb and loving partner to draw me back.

    Beautifully crafted blog! emoticon
    74 days ago
    emoticon Jan emoticon So glad you had your hubby there to help you. emoticon
    74 days ago
    The stigma sadly continues. emoticon
    74 days ago
    Depression is no joke.... very difficult to navigate thu it. had 2 episodes lasting years.... never want to go back.. people are very mean about it at times and drs would just look at u and not know how to help... that was the worst of it...
    74 days ago
    emoticon emoticon for sharing By sharing your story you show that the battle can won..

    74 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/1/2021 11:38:03 AM
    The most painful time of my life was when my brother died. Way too young. The first question the Dr. asked me was, "What medication do you want"? She knew I was a nurse. BUT I think my answer stunned her. I said I didn't want ANY medication. It wasn't going to bring my brother back, it wasn't going to change the situation. I said what I need is someone to talk about it with. I found a lovely group of people who'd experienced such a loss and THAT group was utterly therapeutic. It involved talking and listening. No judgments. To this day I remember the wise words of so many of those people in the group when times are troubling.

    Obviously there are situations/times when medications ARE needed and that's all right, too. But empathetic listening is vital for healing.

    It is so sad that there is such a stigma still attached to depression and keeps too many from seeking help.

    HUGS and thanks for talking about this subject.

    74 days ago
    My nephew is going thru depression right now. I wish there was something I could do to help him. He will have nothing to do w/his mom (my sister) or his dad. His therapist told him that his mother was the cause of all his problems. (This is what he told her). He will be 24 and has become a hermit. He broke up w/girlfriend, stopped bowling, got fired from his last job. My sister is not sure if he is taking his meds or not, since he moved out of their house. I pray for him. It's like I don't even recognize him any more. He graduated top of his class and up until this year was always going to college. If you got any ideas I would really appreciate it. emoticon
    74 days ago
  • no profile photo INCH_BY_INCH
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    74 days ago
  • DEE797
    74 days ago
    I have over 40 years of talking openly about all the mental diseases that affect people, family, and myself. But yes, still there's this stigma going on. Two major depressions, 4 years each. Darn! I never ever want to go there again. I'm medicated for life and loving it. Great blog!
    74 days ago
  • JERICHO1991
    Thanks for sharing. I did not feel this way at the time, but my own encounters with depression have allowed me to feel more empathy for others.
    74 days ago
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