All Articles Tagged "depression"
Rapper and actor Kid Cudi took to social media on Tuesday to share a pretty revealing note about his mental health. Using his Facebook page, Cudi, born Scott Mescudi, stated that he’s checked himself into treatment to deal with struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. As he put it, “I am not at peace.”
Its been difficult for me to find the words to what Im about to share with you because I feel ashamed. Ashamed to be a leader and hero to so many while admitting I’ve been living a lie. It took me a while to get to this place of commitment, but it is something I have to do for myself, my family, my best friend/daughter and all of you, my fans.
Yesterday I checked myself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges.
I am not at peace. I haven’t been since you’ve known me. If I didn’t come here, I wouldve done something to myself. I simply am a damaged human swimming in a pool of emotions everyday of my life. Theres a ragin violent storm inside of my heart at all times. Idk what peace feels like. Idk how to relax. My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it. I cant make new friends because of it. I dont trust anyone because of it and Im tired of being held back in my life. I deserve to have peace. I deserve to be happy and smiling. Why not me? I guess I give so much of myself to others I forgot that I need to show myself some love too. I think I never really knew how. Im scared, im sad, I feel like I let a lot of people down and again, Im sorry. Its time I fix me. Im nervous but ima get through this.
I wont be around to promote much, but the good folks at Republic and my manager Dennis will inform you about upcoming releases. The music videos, album release date etc. The album is still on the way. Promise. I wanted to square away all the business before I got here so I could focus on my recovery.
If all goes well ill be out in time for Complexcon and ill be lookin forward to seeing you all there for high fives and hugs.
Love and light to everyone who has love for me and I am sorry if I let anyone down. I really am sorry. Ill be back, stronger, better. Reborn. I feel like shit, I feel so ashamed. Im sorry.
I love you,
Cudi has spoken openly in the past about overcoming suicidal thoughts. As the 32-year-old told Arsenio Hall in 2014, “I dealt with suicide for the past five years. There wasn’t a week or day that didn’t go by where I was just like, ‘You know? I wanna check out.’ And I know what that feels like.”
He continued: “I know it comes from loneliness. I know it comes from not having self-worth, not loving yourself.”
According to the rapper, the loneliness is the most dangerous aspect of depression.
“I’m just really just trying to guide people and help people because loneliness is a terrible, terrible thing, man and if you don’t know how to conquer it, it can eat you alive.”
I think it’s great that Cudi decided to be open about this journey he’s preparing to go on. It’s important to see someone with such a large fan base and level of fame using their platform to be open and honest about their own battles with mental health. It’s more common than people think.
The more we talk about it, the more people will feel less shame about seeking help for it.
People with depression don’t always have a therapist to turn to. Sometimes they feel more comfortable confiding in friends and family instead of someone they have to build a new therapeutic relationship with. The people closest to you can be a shoulder to cry on, but the truth is they don’t always give the best advice. Not knowing what to say at times can lead to unhelpful, invalidating and insensitive reactions, leaving the depressed person feeling no better than they did before they approached their loved one for help. A person giving feckless advice isn’t intentionally being hurtful, but it’s important to understand that depressed people perceive things differently at times. So the people closest to them have to be mindful of what they say and how they say it, which isn’t always easy. As a therapist, I hear clients tell me about harsh things people spit back at them when they tell them their issues. They have to have to deal with feeling dismissed on top of their own sadness and hopelessness, which can make their symptoms worsen. Take a look at the worst five things you can say to a depressed person during a time of distress.
“It’s not that serious.”
This comment can make a person feel like they are over-reacting, which makes them second guess themselves. If they are upset then it is obviously that serious to them, and if you are their friend or family the best thing you can do is let them know you understand and offer help. This response shows that what they are upset about isn’t serious to you, which can make a depressed person feel like they are burdening you. Listening instead of invalidating their feelings would suffice.
“You’ll be fine.”
Though some people may see this response as helping a person understand that time will heal their wound, it isn’t always effective when it comes to a depressed person. Sometimes they feel like they will not be fine. You telling them that is not helping them come up with a solution. The key is to acknowledge their feelings and then help them figure out what steps they have to take in order for them to get to a point where they will actually be fine.
“I don’t know what to tell you.”
This is a horrible response to a friend or family member looking to be consoled, especially a depressed one. It’s understandable that that person’s problems may be overwhelming for you and you in fact may not know what to tell them, but it’s not a good idea to let them know that. It can make them feel like you do not want to help, and this may be true in some cases. If you do want to be supportive then telling them you understand that they are going through a lot and you are there to help as much as you can is a start. Helping them see the positive in the situation instead of the negative would help them feel more at ease as well. Or just normalizing their response to help them understand that you get why they are experiencing such an emotional response. Giving this empty reply is a no-go.
“You need to be more grateful.”
Just because a person is angry or upset about something does not mean they are not appreciative of what they have or cognizant of their accomplishments. Depressed people may have a good job, be financially stable and have a family and still struggle with being happy. High-functioning depressed folks seem to “have it all together,” so when they are experiencing a depressive episode a friend who is trying to be supportive may try to divert their attention off of what is depressing them to their accolades, which have nothing to do with what they are feeling in that moment. Focus on what they are saying, and maybe share a story of how you overcame a similar situation. It helps encourage them and helps them see they are not the only one who has been hurt.
“Maybe you need medication.”
Unless you’re a psychiatrist or therapist, you cannot assess or come to any conclusion about whether someone needs psychotropic medication or not. As someone who is lending an ear, you can most likely tell if therapy is needed, and suggesting it a great start, but that’s where it stops. Plus, people with depression do not always take medication. Use of coping skills helps a lot as well, and so does having supportive friends and family.
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that around 4 to 6 percent of Americans develop in the winter each year. SAD typically sets on during the changing of the seasons, when the sun begins to set earlier, meaning people get far less of that essential vitamin D. Many people, unfortunately, don’t take SAD as seriously as other forms of depression because they just think, “This will go away in the spring or summer.” But that is still several months spent feeling very depressed and unlike yourself. And just like any other form of depression, SAD can make it very difficult for a person to carry out their daily tasks, and do things that are important for their health, like exercise and socialize. Ironically, one of the reasons SAD sets on in the winter–especially in places with severe winters–is because the weather makes it harder for people to socialize. Nobody wants to tough out the icy streets and windy roads, so they stay indoors. But, like we said, you don’t need to live with SAD. Here is how to beat seasonal affective disorder this fall and winter.
The Internet can be a great source of joy–it’s loaded with some rather hilarious memes that make you see the humor in just about anything, it tells you when your best friend gets engaged, and it lets people reach out to you about jobs and events without your phone number. But it can also be fertile ground for depressing content. And it can encourage some unhealthy behavior. Staying off the internet could almost be considered irresponsible today, but like with any massive source of information and connectivity, you need to develop responsible habits. If you don’t have a discerning eye, use your critical thinking skills, and put up some pretty strong mental filters, the Internet can eat your sanity alive. Here are 20 Internet habits that could be making you depressed.
If you don’t have a history of depression, it can be very shocking and confusing to experience depression in your adult years. By the time you’re “grown up” you’ve usually learned the tools to remain happy and hopeful, like keeping healthy and close friendships, finding a supportive relationship, getting regular exercise, getting plenty of sleep, taking your vitamins and having goals. If you’re doing all of these things, waking up every day and finding that your usual tools are not working and you can’t chase depression away it can be confusing. The very idea of going to therapy can scare some people because they think, “If I see a therapist, that means something is very wrong with me.” But plenty of functional, stable people see therapists every day, just to stay in check with their own thoughts and emotions, plus depression is more common than you’d think. Here are 15 signs it’s time to go to seek therapy for your depression.
I barely watch the news. Sometimes it makes me feel guilty, like I’m an uninformed rube or something, but I don’t avoid the news because I don’t like to keep up with current events. I do it because news stories, like those about the Orlando mass shooting, make me very anxious and very depressed.
The Orlando shooting happened overnight, so I had a brief respite from the breaking story while watching “CBS Sunday Morning,” the kind of news program that fills my need for information. That was until the “Breaking News” graphic covered the screen and I was filled with dread; no TV station ever breaks into programming for a positive story. That’s when I learned what had happened and I was sad, for the families of the victims, for my gay and lesbian friends who lost a sense of security, for the country.
My sadness isn’t clinical, like my depression. You can’t treat it with medication. But it activates the constant thrum of melancholy that I feel every day, even under the best circumstances. It triggers a litany of negative thoughts about when the violence will be turned against a group of Black women like me, and how much worse it has to get before our laws are changed. The thinking and the over-thinking — plus the positive affirmations I need to help move my mind in a good direction — are exhausting. Actually, it’s exhausting to go through the process on a regular day. Add in a national tragedy and the chatter in my brain becomes unbearable.
Added to the story about the Orlando shooting — as happens with all public violence — is the topic of mental illness. The shooter always has a mental illness, or has seen a therapist, or maybe had a behavioral problem as a child. This layer of the story is something that I always ignore. There are millions of people with mental illnesses who aren’t violent. Who don’t buy guns or knives or weapons of any kind. Who are more of a danger to ourselves than we could ever be to others. But the general public will learn, again, that people with mental illness are dangerous killers to be feared and possibly locked up. This makes me just as angry as anything else, ready to don a t-shirt saying “I Have Bipolar and I’m Not Violent.” Not that the rabid news media would pay attention to a bit of truth.
So what do I do to maintain my sanity? Mostly, I ignore the daily drips of information. I never watch TV news, shielding myself from stories that aren’t intended to be useful but are meant to boost ratings. I don’t click on Facebook or Twitter posts about the Orlando shooting; I read the headlines and move along. I refuse to engage in conversations about the violence. Anger isn’t my best emotion, and I choose to avoid i, lest it turn into anxiety and depression, which it usually does. I look at pictures of puppies and kittens and babies as a palate cleanser and a therapeutic tool to reset my mind.
You might think I’m a baby who can’t handle the real world, but I disagree. Mass killings aren’t normal, and I refuse to treat them as such. And I’m adult enough to know what I need to do in order to keep myself happy and healthy. So bring on the kitties and just let me watch.
Nira Hyman is a vibrant, funny, smart publishing professional living in New York City. She has plenty of friends. She pledged a sorority in college. And she’s planning a trip to Cuba. From the outside, you would never know that she has battled depression since high school, throughout her time at an Ivy League university, and for all of her adult life. Though she has seen numerous doctors and tried various medications while coping with her mental illness, she has maintained a proactive and engaged stance in her treatment that has made surviving the dark depths of depression easier over time.
When Hyman first felt the symptoms of depression, she just thought she was experiencing adolescent mood swings. What she soon found were distinct differences between her moods and those of her friends, so she probed for reasons.
“I remember asking people repeatedly, like, ‘Well, when you feel down, how long does it last?’ And I would poll people constantly to find out, ‘Well, if you’re only down for two days, why am I feeling down for four weeks?'” Hyman’s questions continued without much external input, even though her own her mother had always suffered from depression. This is something a young Hyman didn’t realize at the time.
“Even though I grew up around [depression] throughout my entire family, we didn’t discuss how it might impact me personally. Although I visited my mother — she was hospitalized several times — we never discussed what she was suffering from. It was kind of understood that she ‘wasn’t quite right’ or she was sort of ‘under the weather’ with her moods.” In spite of a lack of clarity surrounding depression, Hyman continued to ask questions.
Once she got to college, Hyman again felt strong symptoms of depression, including trouble eating, sleep disruption, and a plummeting mood.
“I was crying for no reason. I was unable to complete my classes in a timely manner,” she said. These symptoms led Hyman to her university’s health services. Based on her symptoms and family history, they were able to prescribe therapy and Prozac, a drug that she accepted because medications had helped her mother.
Her family’s silence about depression didn’t end with Hyman’s diagnosis. Though her mother was upset and shocked, Hyman believes that her mom’s mixed feelings about her diagnosis came from the fact that she wanted to protect her.
“I think she may have thought that by not talking about it that she could somehow shield me from it. She was surprised,” Hyman said. Hyman now knows and acknowledges the history of depression on both sides of her family and how that past impacts her daily life. She said that dealing with depression is easier now than when she was first diagnosed. She shared the details of her health with friends and loved ones, and she has developed a way to keep track of aspects of her life that can affect her mood or signal a depressive episode. She said that she asks herself questions like, “‘Am I getting enough sleep? Am I eating right? Am I doing positive things? Am I dwelling on negative things that happen to me?’ I sort of have a mental checklist that’s now more automatic.”
Though she still falls into patterns of not speaking to people or isolating herself for long periods of time, Hyman can eventually pull herself out of a downward spiral by focusing on her treatment, and being a mental illness advocate and volunteer with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
But one of the most difficult things Hyman encounters in surviving depression is navigating the healthcare system. Due to changes in the publishing industry, and some factors of her illness, Hyman finds it hard to secure a full-time job with benefits. With those constraints, it is difficult to find highly-qualified doctors who will see her for more than 10 or 15 minutes. Hyman said that treating mental illness takes more time and focus. Still, she has managed to navigate the mental health system to get the care she needs.
“I’ve always tried to put myself out there, just make the call. I’ve seen dozens of doctors, I’ve seen social workers, I’ve seen psychotherapists, I’ve sort of run the gamut. I’ve been in support groups as well.”
To people who might have recently been diagnosed with depression, Hyman stresses the importance of doing the kind of Internet research she couldn’t do for herself more than 20 years ago. According to her, “When I was diagnosed the Internet did not even exist, so there’s so much for people to look up that’s really good. There are so many things that weren’t offered to me when I was younger.” She also stresses the need for those diagnosed to be proactive and not to believe that their life has to come to a complete halt. Hyman says “people can really get a handle on this, and quickly, but they have to sort of come to terms with the diagnosis and know that it won’t stop them.”
Everyone says they’re stressed. But how many of us are really, really stressed to the point that it’s affecting our health, physically and mentally? Unfortunately, it’s actually more people than you would think. According to the American Institute of Stress and MastersDegreeOnline.org, 44 percent of Americans say they feel more stressed than they did five years ago, and one in five say they deal with “extreme stress.” So outside of the uncomfortable tension, they’re also battling with heart palpitations, shaking fits, and, of course, depression. And stress raises the risk of heart disease to 40 percent. The risk of stroke? Fifty percent.
What is going on?
Well, we’re doing too much for one.
“In a society that glorifies hard work and multitasking, we all are susceptible to being overworked and burned out,” said Kathleen Isaac, MPhil, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology. “The danger of pushing ourselves too much is that we put ourselves at risk for adverse health conditions related to stress. In addition, we also put ourselves at risk for other mental health conditions related to stress such as depression and anxiety. We may also see a decrease in our ability to function at our best ability at work, school, etc., and this may take a toll on our work as well as our personal life.”
When we take more on our plate than we can actually handle, we are setting ourselves up to be overwhelmed to the point that it’s harmful to our well-being. And while we all often feel weary about our wealth of responsibilities, Isaac said that you know things are going too far when it starts to impact your body. A headache is one thing, but stress can manifest itself in even more debilitating ways.
“While most people are aware of increased worrying and tension headaches as indicators of stress, there are a number of physical symptoms that one can experience when stressed,” Isaac said. She cited “muscle aches or tension, stomach pain, low energy, chest pain, insomnia, frequent colds or infections and loss of sexual desire or ability” as physical effects caused by our daily anxieties. “Stress can also lead to weight gain because of increased cortisol levels, and certain behaviors associated with stress such as overeating, drinking, and poor sleep may put you at risk for conditions like hypertension and diabetes. It is, therefore, important to pay attention to your body. If you notice that you aren’t functioning as well as you used to, check in with yourself and with your doctor and seek counseling if needed.”
However, some levels of stress we can’t really control in the ways people think. Like the distress we might have to deal with at our place of work or our neighborhoods, specifically for women of color operating in places and spaces where there aren’t many who look and think like us. Different forms of discrimination pop up in minute and major ways, and they can drive people both ill and over the edge.
Isaac expounded upon this reality by confirming that racism and bigotry have long been associated with stressors faced by minority populations, as well as other physical and mental issues, both in the workplace and in everyday life.
“African Americans who experience both overt and covert discrimination (i.e. microaggressions) in their daily lives may be susceptible to higher levels of stress. The actual levels of stress will vary, however, depending on individual factors such as sensitivity to racism (how aware one is of being discriminated against) and coping style. Recently there has been some consideration of the impact that the growing visibility of racist acts in the media may have on stress levels.”
So what can we actually do about our levels of stress, aside from cranking A Tribe Called Quest’s “Stressed Out” and wearing our anguish and exhaustion as a badge of “I work hard and I’m a strong Black woman” honor? According to the CDC, it’s important that we channel our stress into healthy activities and habits, and also, be open about our feelings and issues with people who can hear us out, support us, and help us put things into perspective. That includes exercising regularly and eating better, getting as much sleep as we can, talking to loved ones, as well as a counselor, doctor or even a pastor when it all becomes too much, and most importantly, knowing when it’s time to take a break. We all need timeouts here and there from the things and people who messing with our psyche and sense of inner peace.
Granted, these things won’t end stress in your life for all time, but rather, alleviate it. Still, listening to your body and knowing when you’re bearing burdens alone that are starting to wear on you is important. The sooner we pay attention and do something about it, the better we can be to the people who rely on us, and most importantly, to ourselves.
The topic of drugs for mental illness is quite controversial. Some people think that drugs aren’t needed, and that mental illness can be cured through therapy alone, or prayer, or just trying hard to make it go away. I used to be one of those people. But after beginning a drug regimen for my depression, I became a complete convert.
Imagine being in graduate school with new people, new places and new types of work. I was there in 2001 when I began business school. As someone with a degree in English literature, I entered my MBA program with no small amount of fear. I worried that the quantitative coursework in finance, accounting and statistics would be too hard for me. I wondered if I belonged at the top 5 school where I’d matriculated. My fears were realized when I struggled through my first term with lackluster grades. The overachiever in me was devastated.
I knew the cause of my mediocre GPA: I didn’t have a full grasp of the material I was learning. I could barely comprehend the information in my textbooks. The more I tried to read, the less I could focus. And my attention flagged during class time, where I felt groggy and out of sorts. I tried to cover my confusion with my classmates, showing false understanding and sarcasm. Inside, however, I was crying. To be honest, I did a fair amount of actual crying in my apartment at night. I slept a lot, when I thought I should have been studying, to escape what I thought was sadness.
After weeks of suffering, I told my therapist about how I felt and what I thought were the causes. He asked me if I’d had similar feelings at other times. I confessed that yes, there were times in which I was tearful and prone to sleeping. He suggested that I might be clinically depressed and referred me to a psychiatrist for evaluation and drug therapy. I bristled at first, believing that I didn’t need drugs. But once I thought about how miserable I’d been, I realized that I needed some solution beyond what I’d had at the time.
My first visit to a psychiatrist was full of questions and answers. At that first meeting, I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed Zoloft. On my way to fill the prescription, my feelings about drugs for mental illness resurfaced. I thought they were a crutch that people used when they couldn’t do the hard work of getting better. I believed that I was strong enough to overcome my malady on my own, even though when I was honest with myself I could admit I had been struggling with the same symptoms for years — lethargy, lack of concentration, crying spells, general disinterest in my activities. Against my beliefs, I got the Zoloft and began taking it.
Within a few weeks something wonderful happened. I started feeling better. In truth, I felt more like myself than I had in a long time. It was as though a switch in my brain had been flipped and I’d been restored to my previous level of intelligence and good humor. My grades improved, as did my social life. I became the person I’d always been before depression had taken hold. Suddenly, I became a convert in favor of drugs for mental illness.
Here’s what I want people to understand: mental illness is actually a physiological disorder and as such requires a physiological change in your brain — that means medication of some sort. And when medication is something that can set you to rights and remove your suffering, there’s no good reason not to take it if necessary. Choosing to do so doesn’t make you weak, it makes you smart.
Tracey Lloyd lives in Harlem, where she fights her cat for access to the keyboard. You can find more of her experiences living with bipolar disorder on her personal blog, My Polar Opposite.
I consider myself a Christian. I believe in God, I read the Bible, I go to church. My faith plays a role in certain aspects of my disease, but this wasn’t always the case. Earlier in my Christian journey, and before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I had experiences that would lead me to believe that Christianity and mental illness could not be reconciled. That information came not from the Bible, but from how some Christians exhibit their faith.
Some years ago, I was in the midst of a depressive episode but I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I knew that I was tired and teary and my brain was foggy. I’d thought about getting into therapy to talk about my feelings about a recent breakup and accompanying weight gain. Instead, my father convinced me to become more active in our church. This was supposed to deepen my relationship with God and make me feel better.
I took my dad’s advice and took a more active role in the church. When my favorite minister invited me to attend a women’s spiritual retreat one weekend, I agreed because I liked her and believed that it would help my mood. Expecting fellowship and sisterhood, what I experienced instead made me feel even worse.
Most of the women at the retreat were what I call “I’m blessed” Christians. You know, the kind of people who say “I’m blessed” whenever you ask how they are. They might as well answer “I’m Black.” These “I’m blessed” women that I met didn’t leave room for the emotional vagaries of the human condition, and certainly didn’t leave any room for me to talk about what I thought of as my emotional issues. “I’m blessed” is pretty much a non-starter, at least for me, because I never know how to respond. “Good for you” seems dismissive, and the only appropriate response is another declaration of faith. If all I was supposed to do was talk about God and religion whenever anyone spoke to me, I was sure that Christianity and mental illness — or at least emotional issues — had no place being together in this environment.
The women that I met at the retreat were also the kind of people who say, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” I know they meant that their stress is mollified by their faith, or that God’s blessings are with them even in times of emotional tension. But did they feel stress? My whole reason for getting more involved in the church was because I was stressed. But being around a group of women who seemed to agree that anxiety wasn’t possible for them made me feel alone and so wrong. So when my minster packed her Bible into a case — one that everyone else in the room seemed to have but me — and asked me how my day was, all I could muster was a wan “It was a blessing.” What I really wanted to say was, is there any room for my feelings in this religious expression?
Fortunately, I eventually found professional help for my mental illness and a spiritual home in which I feel comfortable talking to my pastor about my condition. Instead of claiming my unlilateral blessings under all situations, I acknowledge the role that God has played in getting me to seek help and in making me smart enough to get the help I need when I need it. Unlike the Christians I met early in my struggle, I connect with God for strength that’s particular to my situation rather than repeating the platitudes that mark some religious experiences. Of course Christianity and mental illness can coexist in the same person, but Christians need to be more mindful of how their expression of faith affects us.