So when I was 29 I sought out professional help from a therapist (it took me 3 to find the right one for me, but that's another story) and though it has been a hard fought battle over the years to regain my clarity and sense of self worth it was the best decision I ever made. Therapy, group support and 12 step programs saved my life and I cannot say enough about their value and importance for anyone struggling!
Why am I telling you this? Because after losing a close friend to suicide recently I decided it was time to speak out on the importance of mental health and the NECESSITY of asking for help. Prolonged mental stress, depression and anxiety do not just go away because we ignore them, they have a funny way of reasserting themselves when we least expect it. And the statistics are sobering. On average 129 people take their own lives each day in the United States (many of them veterans suffering from PTSD) and there are, on average 1.4 million suicide attempts each year in the US. Clearly there are millions more that suffer in silence.
How can you help? Watch for Warning Signs from those you care about. Be a good friend and let them know you care about them (what to do when you think someone is at risk). If YOU are struggling with anxiety, depression or thoughts of suicide ASK FOR HELP. There are many people out there who have been in your shoes (many more than you could ever imagine) and many caring professionals that can help, but you have to be the first to utter the unspeakable and begin the conversation. Here are a few resources that may be of help:
- Excellent article on one persons experience with depression
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- NIH Suicide Prevention Page - excellent resource
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)
- Western NC walk-in and mobile mental health services
- Exercise (increased physical activity may reduce depressive episodes by 17%)
- Time in Nature (especially beautiful places) - Harvard Medical School article
- Healthy Diet - Harvard Medical School Article
David, Co-Founder of Wind River