Episode 2: Suicide, anxiety & depression
This episode of “Stuff No One Talks About” tackles the complicated matters of suicide, anxiety, and depression - subjects people tend to avoid.
Hi, this is Dr. Burns. My name is Dana Langford. My name is Dr. Domenick Sportelli. And this is stuff no one-- No one-- No one talks about.
[MUSIC PLAYING] It's gonna to take a community to be
able to address this issue. I personally dealt with suicidal ideations multiple times.
And I attempted suicide three times. And so when I was doing that, it wasn't from the aspect of I
didn't want to be here anymore. It was more so of the fact that I was in pain. A lot of times, people don't want to talk about suicide because of the fact that they think,
oh, if I bring it up, it may put the idea in someone's head, or you may be pushing them towards that.
But that's not the case. A lot of times, you just need that permission to be able to divulge whatever you have going on with them.
We have to share these particular stories as you see multiple people talking about, I've been depressed, or I didn't want to be here anymore.
Or you're having people normalize these specific conversations. That's something that's going to go a long way because people
can resonate with these particular things, because suicide may be passive. Somebody could be in a down moment and be like, I just wish someone would take me out.
And I just don't want to be here anymore. It could be something just as simple as that. But then also, understanding when you have these specific conversations,
people can know where to go, who they can trust, but also build their support system around them. And that's what's going to take people a long way, because you
can't live life alone. You feel like you have no other option.
And you feel like you don't want to be here anymore. And you have a plan and intent to execute
that particular plan. You need to get help. And that's not even just calling a friend or a family member,
it's also reaching out to your behavioral health center or maybe even going to the hospital. It's OK to go check into--
check yourself-- I've actually been in hospitals before, as a patient, but then also as someone who's serving someone there.
So it's not a death sentence for you to go get that particular help. And then understanding, if you don't have any way out
or if you have means to die by suicide, get those things out of your house,
or remove those things from your periphery so you can be safe.
But then also, talk to someone. You, again, can't reiterate that enough, is telling your supports what you have going on
in your mind, what's going on in your head, but then also letting them know that if I send a message,
and I need you to come immediately-- creating those plans, be preventive instead of reactive.
The way that I look at suicide intention or suicidal thinking, that is the heart attack if I was a cardiologist,
meaning, that's an emergency. In psychiatry, we have an old cliche saying.
And it says that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. People often ask, why would somebody
ever want to harm themselves? And there are lots of reasons for this. And every circumstance is unique. So in most cases, it's an escape.
In a lot of cases, suicide feels to the individual that it's the only solution that they
can come to get rid of these uncomfortable emotions and circumstances in their lives.
Another reason why somebody might consider hurting themselves is physical pain. Sometimes we see people that have significant chronic pain in their lives,
and they can't control it. And it leads them to think down the lines of self-injury or suicide. There still is a mental health stigma.
So people do still unfortunately perceive mental illness, whether it's depression or anxiety or something
like bipolar disorder-- they still think, wow, there's something wrong with me that's a character flaw. I shouldn't be experiencing this.
No one will understand this. I can't talk to anybody about this. It sets up an environment where they don't feel understood.
They feel isolated. They feel alone. And they feel as though they cannot get help. If you feel that someone might be feeling
depressed or sad or suicidal, there are a couple of things that you can do to help them. And I think most importantly, let them know that you care
and that they're not alone, because I'm telling you right now, probably a large reason why they feel the way they feel is
because they feel isolated and misunderstood. So that will go a long way. When you do this, you want to do it in a non-judgmental way and a non-critical way.
Reassure the individual that what they're going through is not permanent.
And when you're in the midst of a storm, sometimes it's really, really hard to see your way out. So you need someone else who can see past that storm
to guide you through that storm and get you to the sunlight on the other side. Don't be afraid to ask someone directly,
are you feeling like you want to end your life? Do you have suicidal thoughts? Are you feeling suicidal? Do you have a plan to hurt yourself?
We know in research that by asking these direct questions, you're more likely to engage in a productive conversation that can get this individual help.
Things that you want to avoid is saying things like hey, cheer up, you'll be fine. Being dismissive of it can be a little
challenging for somebody. Just changing the subject and not really engaging it can be hard for the individual that's suffering with this.
Even sometimes just trying to give advice, the way you would handle it, sometimes isn't the best way to do it.
Anxiety sucks. It sucks. Like, there is no two ways about it.
It's kind of hard to put into words exactly what it feels like. It can be really all-consuming.
I mean, it feels very hard, at times, to try to separate yourself from this all-encompassing feeling
that, like, everything is bad. For me, the difference between anxiety and depression is sort of the difference between the past
and the future. Anxiety, in my experience, is all about what's going to happen. Depression, in my mind, has always
been about ruminating on stuff in the past. You just sit there, and you just keep thinking about it
and thinking about it and thinking about it and thinking about it. And it won't go away. And it makes you feel terrible. And you don't want to do anything because then you
start to question, well, if I made these mistakes or whatever, am I worthwhile as a person?
I cannot tell you how thankful I am that I spoke to a therapist.
And I do think that just having someone to talk to in a structured sort of setting like that, where
it's just like you can just, ah, kind of get all that stuff out of your head, can be really helpful.
So that would be my advice for anybody who maybe thinks that they are dealing with this but doesn't know what to do next.
When the suicide-- my father's suicide-- happened, you don't know that-- I didn't know that I needed to talk to someone.
I just didn't know. [MUSIC PLAYING]
When my sister and I were in the room arguing about something, yelling and screaming, and my mother came in quietly
and said, you know, Cecily, Courtney, eventually, it's just going to be two--
and the two of us looked at each other and just broke down. And we haven't had-- my sister and I
have been on the same page for the last 30 years, plus years, through my mother's passing from ALS.
When you realize that life is sacred and every day, it really is precious, that's one less day you have,
then things become important. And that knowledge is what my mother gave me, the gift.
The gift of knowing how life is about transitions. And I honor all the people that brought me to today.
One of the things about Mommy, Mama Vance also, is that not only did she say, you and Cecily
need to go back to your respective locations and find a therapist, but she said, I'm going to do it, too.
And it's so important, because so often, we know that adults say, do what I say, not what I do.
And so, Courtney's mother offered this foundation,
that it was OK and actually a necessity to pursue care.
I mean, that's what we're here talking about, to pursue care. Which is what this book is about, the mental cost, the high cost for high living, or low living.
There's a cost for everything. And I can be on to tell you as all-- and that's what this book is about. You can be-- from the outward appearance,
I'm on top of the world. But inwardly, I'm dying. I'm struggling. And I don't know how to find my way.
Talking to someone is an option, an option that potentially can help. If you haven't, in your lifetime,
been told that this is an option by someone, or have seen evidence of it, then someone coming to you
or someone suggesting to you, talk to somebody, it's just so overwhelming with, well, how do you do that. Because that was my issue, was, how do I do that?
When you get in a crisis, as we often do, if you don't have a team around you that has your back when things get rough,
they're not going to leave you nor forsake you, and that can give you the advice to say, Court, be quiet, Court,
don't say anything, Court, straighten up your shirt-- that is what the book is about, I think, to really let people know that it's OK.
But people in general know life is about either your inner--
either you're in a crisis, coming out of one, or going into one. And it doesn't mean that life is over.
It just means that this is the season that we're in. And you know, I was in the season with my mom for four years.
And we just had to, day-to-day, ride it out. Accept the new normal. This is a new normal.
This won't be-- this has come to pass. It's not going to come to stay. It's going to be-- it's a season. And because there are some things in life
that just take time, if you don't know what to do, sometimes you just got to stand there and let things percolate
and get ready for your next move.
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