New Study Shows Link between Hormonal Contraceptives and Depression

According to a Danish study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry, there is a link between depression and the use of hormonal contraceptives.

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Even though a lot of research has been done on the use of contraceptives, the study authors highlighted that there was insufficient data on the connection between contraceptives and depression.

Details of the Study

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen studied over a million women in Denmark between the ages of 15 and 34. The study took place over a period of 13 years using data from the National Prescription Register and the Psychiatric Central Research Register in Denmark.

According to an abstract from the JAMA Psychiatry, the women were selected according to the following criteria:

  • If they had no prior depression diagnosis,
  • Having not redeemed prescription for antidepressants,
  • Not having any other major psychiatric diagnosis,
  • Not using cancer, venous thrombosis, or infertility treatment

The researchers tested for depression by checking either for a depression diagnosis at a psychiatric hospital or the use of antidepressants.

Results

NPR reports that only 2 percent of the women in the study group received a depression diagnosis, whereas 13 percent filled prescriptions for antidepressants.

The contraceptive pills that had both estrogen and progestin made the women who used them 23 percent more likely to turn to antidepressants. Those who took pills with only progestin were 34 percent more likely to get antidepressants.

For teen girls taking pills with estrogen and progestin, there was an 80 percent relative risk of depression. The risk went up to 120 percent for progestin-only pills.

In a press release, the researchers said, “Millions of women worldwide use hormonal contraception. Despite the clinical evidence of an influence of hormonal contraception on some women’s mood, associations between the use of hormonal contraception and mood disturbances remain inadequately addressed.”

When it came to other forms of hormonal birth control such as Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) and vaginal rings, prescriptions for antidepressants went up by 40 percent for the former and 60 percent for the latter. For those using hormonal patches, the rate of antidepressant prescriptions went up by up to 100 percent.

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With so many prevailing risks of depression, it is important to ensure that steps are taken to protect the society. Since teenage girls are most vulnerable to this threat, women should take a proactive role in educating not only themselves, but also pay special attention to the women of the future.

Studies such as this one from the Danish researchers help to shed a light on subject matter that is rarely discussed. While their conclusions might be up for debate from some of their peers, this study still presents data that will inform women and help them to protect themselves.

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Is it Laziness or Depression?

Last week, an IMGUR user – a media sharing website – triggered an online debate after posting a ‘before and after’ picture of a room that was previously littered with bottles and trash, but was now completely clean. The user, who identified as a depressed person, wanted to show that people suffering from depression could try to make a difference in their lives.

However, as is common with the online community nowadays, this post started a debate asking: Is this really a depressed person or someone who is too lazy to clean their room?

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source: BBC-IMGUR

 

It is not clear whether the perception created by the movie industry that many people grow up as slobs and have to be forced by their parents to clean their rooms is indicative of what truly happens in most homes. What’s intriguing, though, is that this question of “laziness or depression” is one that is debated constantly among those who are depressed.

Some say your laziness causes the depression, while others say that laziness is as a result of depression. It is like the ‘chicken or egg’ question in another format. In other cases, it’s not about one or the other. There is an unstated consensus that some people lack the discipline, motivation and commitment to do things that will improve their lives and their environment.

But what is really going on?

The Real Problem

Even though we expect life to be this beautiful experience full of happiness and love, we find that there are times when we will go through pain. You have to learn to be disciplined, to be proactive, to be purposeful in your actions, to be giving (in terms of charity and service), to be clean and to do everything required to achieve your goals.

Some people by default hate cleaning in any form. They are just unmotivated to get to it. Others are indeed lazy. They have to be prodded by some authority figure to clean up after themselves. In your lifetime, perhaps you’ve had a room or gone into a room and thought to yourself, “No one should live in such a dump.”

However, the problem arises when people automatically assume that someone who does not clean their room is simply lazy. You might even be one of those who have been called lazy.

 

A perceived failure in life is also put into the category of laziness. You might feel like a failure because you are unable to get a job while your peers are out there accomplishing great feats and receiving praise and accolades. This perceived failure has led many to question their purpose in life and the reason why they should continue living. It cuts to the core of our self-worth.

The expectations placed by society to become successful can be overwhelming. The society’s definition of success is to have a great job, money, family, and to achieve great feats. Unfortunately, not many people live up to these expectations. The negative impact of that failure can thus be detrimental to someone’s mental state.

Unexpectedly, you sat down one day and asked yourself whether there is something more happening inside your head other than these thoughts of failure and lack of motivation. Why do you have trash littered all over your room; with discarded food lying around? What is making you lack the desire to clean up or to get anything done? Perhaps, at this point, you considered that you could be depressed. Well, if that’s the case, then it is possible you are on the right track.

It sometimes takes a while before people can be diagnosed or self-diagnose depression.

People don’t understand what depression is. Many believe it is being really sad. For those who go through depression, it is a mix of a lot of experiences.

For one, you lack motivation to doing anything important. You just want to sit mindlessly watching TV or doing some other time-wasting activity. It acts as an escape from the painful reality of your present life. Secondly, you become isolated and unwilling to interact with peers, friends, and family. You isolate yourself because you don’t want to be a burden to anyone. It’s as if you are now hiding yourself from the world. Yet, deep inside, you desire to connect with someone. Thirdly, you go through a painful process of introspection whereby you critique yourself and everything that is wrong with your life as you perceive it. You die inside slowly every single day till the point you believe your life no longer has meaning and you choose to die.

Once depression has taken root in your life, you might even find that you are battling thoughts of both loving and hating your family and friends. It is strange. You wish them well but their success makes you envy them. You wish it were you. Then you feel guilty for thinking like that and hate yourself even more. You feel so much pain inside and want to let it all out. At times, you think about crying but there are no tears. There is no escape for you and no release. You’ve bottled it up inside for so long and you wonder: “Who will listen to me? Who will hear my silent cry for help?”

Depression can blind your ability to analyze your life objectively in order to improve yourself. You blame yourself harshly for everything bad that has happened in your life. You feel guilty because the person you see in the mirror is not the person you expected to become. You believe that working hard would have brought you the success you craved.

But it is not that simple.

The reality is that depression is not a choice, but a disease.

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What you can do now?

Once you come to terms with the truth that you have a mental illness, you can begin the process of healing. Depression is a potent disease that when given time to thrive can end up killing you or cause you to end your life.

Here are some few thoughts for you to consider:

  1. Get help IMMEDIATELY

Some people let pride tell them that they can’t go to a counselor because they don’t need to see a ‘head doctor’. The stigma surrounding mental health treatment has left so many people suffering in silence. Don’t be that person. Seek out a counseling centre to visit or maybe you can find one willing to talk to you over the phone or on the internet. Just get help.

A doctor might even diagnose you with other problems affecting you such as anxiety, sleep disorders, and attention deficit disorders. These might cause issues such as fatigue, sleepiness, and depression.

The key is to figure out what is going on in your mind so that a better treatment method can be found. Often times, a depressed person only needs someone to talk to them, connect with them and show them that they are important and that people love them. That is enough sometimes to get an individual on the path to treatment.

In other situations, however, the use of medication is necessary.

  1. Be kind to yourself

The world expects a lot from each and every one of us. Sometimes this pressure to fulfill what the society’s expectations can make us feel inadequate and unworthy to continue living. This pressure from life can weigh you down. Many smart people with university degrees haven’t achieved what was expected of them. Others have had their potential talked up but are yet (or are seemingly unlikely) to ever fulfill it. Some have experienced an illness or disability that has affected their pathway to success.

No matter what it is, remember that life is like that. Everyone has ups and downs. We do not have control over some things. But as Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “…we can find some form of meaning in the suffering.”

Learn to avoid comparing yourself with other people and their life circumstances. This is about you. So don’t discredit your feelings.

Find ways to improve yourself but don’t be too hard on yourself. The world is harsh enough already. So be kind to yourself. You are all you’ve got. And you are everything to someone else.

  1. Understand your potential

One of the reasons why you feel so down is because you believe you have talents that you have not utilized to the best of your ability. This frustrates you. Nevertheless, the introspection, the guilt from your failures and constantly judging yourself strips you of your self-esteem. When you have a low opinion of yourself, you are not being true to the potential that is within you.

You have to overcome the battle with your mind first before you can get back on your journey to fulfill your life’s purpose. Finding your purpose is key because it will inspire you to pursue your highest ideals. However, you have to solve the depression issue first. You have to see a therapist so they can treat you or give you medication to alleviate the dark cloud you feel hanging over your head. The more your outer world is out of balance (no work, no money, no friends etc) the more your internal state will suffer. You have to treat the depression, otherwise, it will trickle into every facet of your life. Work will become a chore, your relationships will suffer, and you might even think about giving up.

Once you get into treatment and find a community that has experienced what you are going through, you will be able to start working through any problem and perceived lack of motivation. People talk about pushing through your struggles or working hard to improve your life, but these statements fail to see that depression is a mental health problem. So deal with it first.

  1. Avoid taking substances that make you ‘high’

Trying to escape the reality of life through substances like drugs and alcohol will only fuel the feeling of fatigue and disinterest in pursuing your purpose. These substances are all about ‘chilling’ and relaxing and not about relentlessly pursuing a certain goal.

In addition, if you’ve been prescribed medication for your depression, it is always advised that you should not mix prescription medication with alcohol or any other drug that your doctor has not recommended. The interaction of the chemicals in the medication and the other substances can be life threatening.

  1. You are not Alone

Remember that you are not alone. Even when you are hiding yourself in your room or a corner somewhere, someone is going through something almost similar. Such people gather in community programs or in online forums and it can be helpful for you to join such groups. Others have gone through what you are experiencing and there is hope that you will get better just as they did.

Also, the people in your life care deeply about your well-being. Perhaps they have not shown it yet but at least give them an opportunity to be with you and to show you that they love you. Believe you will one day feel better than you do now. The season of suffering won’t last forever.

All in all, remember that your brain is key to your life.

People never think about that until mental health issues take over and overwhelm them. So nurture your mind, feed your mind, and seek help when your mind is ill. When you feel better, find a better meaning for your life and you will be able to brush aside any thoughts that you are lazy or that you are a failure. Instead, you will be able to pursue your life’s goals and achieve your own definition of success.

Are Suicide ‘Awareness Days’ a Waste of Time?

Tomorrow, September 10th, is the World Suicide Prevention Day. This day is sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) to raise awareness on suicide.

Despite being held for over a decade now, there are growing concerns that the World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) initiative has done little to address the scourge of suicide worldwide. Moreover, there are those who feel that the conversation about depression and suicide should not be restricted to a day or a week, but rather, addressed throughout the year.

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Organizations that deal with suicide every day of the year know better than anyone that more and more people are taking their lives. Unfortunately, this problem is not being aired in the media or discussed in communities. There are many families struggling in silence because they have lost someone to suicide and they have no one to talk about this problem with.

Worse still, there are many people contemplating suicide right now and they have no one to turn to.

According to the Samaritans, an organization whose goal is to help people and to reduce incidences of suicide, more than 800,000 people die from suicide worldwide annually. For example, in the UK, more than 6,000 people take their lives every year. In the US, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that more than 40,000 Americans die by suicide yearly. These statistics, however, are only about those who have died and don’t show the number of failed suicide attempts. When all those figures are tabulated, it shows there are a lot of people suffering from mental health issues.

The good thing about setting aside a date in the calendar year to address issues of suicide is that some people will get to hear a message of hope and possibly change their mind about taking their own lives. Secondly, it gives parents, family members, friends and co-workers of people who have committed suicide an avenue through which they can raise awareness and share their personal experiences on the painful loss of their loved ones. These experiences might inspire and inform others on preventing suicide in their families.

Criticisms of ‘Awareness Days’

Even though the concept of WSPD is to highlight the scourge of suicide in our world, these awareness events are lacking in some key areas:

  1. Do the people who are likely to commit suicide attend these events?

Maybe there have been occasions whereby someone at risk for committing suicide attended these events and got some help. But chances are that the people with suicidal thoughts are probably at home, hiding from the world, feeling lonely and isolated. They probably think that they are useless and that no one will miss them when they die. They think that the world would probably be better off without them.

If these awareness days are being held once a year, what chance do they have of reaching all the people who are suffering in silence? These events do have a ripple effect and more people do get to learn about suicide. But how many of those are actually having a word with the people who are contemplating their death?

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  1. The awareness days seem contrived, vain and flawed

One of the criticisms of awareness days is that people merely participate in the activities but the message doesn’t get across. There is no ‘transformation’ of minds.

Imagine a person who was doing some shopping and is now walking out of the store with a lot of coins in their pocket. Outside is a person with a bowl begging for some money. What will likely happen? The person will dig out some of the coins and give it to the beggar. Inasmuch as people like to help, sometimes people do what is convenient. There’s not much thought to it.

That example brings to mind the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral in 2014. While the challenge was to raise money for an important cause – to treat the neurodegenerative disease called Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – many people used it for publicity or simply because it was trending worldwide. At times, some of the genuine participants had to take a moment to remind others to actually donate money and not just pour ice water on themselves and call it a day.

There is a suspicion that some people only help so that they can feel good about themselves. For others, it looks like they just want to add a new cause or activity to their CV.

Many people who are suffering from depression, mental health issues and those with suicidal thoughts want to feel the theme of the awareness days; which is to connect, communicate and show care to those who are struggling. Unfortunately, these three key points rarely occur at these one-time events.

  1. There doesn’t seem to be a clear plan or purpose

Do people know what to do during Suicide Prevention awareness days? There are many people who are passionate about helping those who are suffering but they don’t know what to do or where to go. How are you supposed to respond when someone tells you they are not okay?

Isn’t it just sad that there is one ‘special’ day where people get to ask others how they are doing? Where are these people when someone is overwhelmed by life’s circumstances? Where are they when someone is feeling lonely, hiding from the world and is hoping to die? Caring for only one day is simply not enough. It’s like when people donate a lot of toys, food and clothes but only during Christmas. What about the rest of the year?

So, what is needed then?

According to the IASP, “Suicide is complex. It usually occurs gradually, progressing from suicidal thoughts, to planning, to attempting suicide and finally dying by suicide.”

Talking and raising awareness about suicide for one day is simply not enough. Here are some of the things needed to help people who are thinking about taking their lives:

      • better mental health services.
      • connection with others. The feeling that people truly empathize and not just sympathize.
      • easier access to mental health counselors and suicide hotlines/helplines.
      • better campaigns to remind people throughout the year that others are suffering with mental health issues and need love.
      • donations for mental health charities.
      • better educational programs on dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts in our homes and communities.
      • school and college events discussing mental health issues.
      • more funding for research into treatment and medication.

The most important point of all is that people who want to commit suicide simply need a reason for living. They need to get to the point where they choose life.

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In one social media campaign against suicide, the hashtag ‘IKeptLiving’ has been used by people to share how their lives were transformed when they chose to live instead of committing suicide.

In many other instances, it is not simply a matter of deciding to live. There are other mental health problems or the use of medication that can cause people’s suicidal ideation to be acted upon. These are some of the people who need to be identified and helped.

You have an opportunity to go out and spread the message about mental health and suicide. These one day awareness events are not enough to turn the tide against suicide. I challenge you today to start caring conversations with people. As I always say, you never know whose life you might save.

Do You Have ‘Bounce Back’ Ability?

I was recently surprised by someone’s actions. One day they were sad, not psyched up to do anything – either feeling lazy or just unwilling to get out of bed; then the next day they were buzzing around full of energy.

It might not be a remarkable feat since many people do that and have done that before. What piqued my curiosity is how some people are able to pick themselves up while others wallow in their sadness till it trickles into other areas of their lives. Next thing you know, they are sucking the joy out of an engaging conversation or they are complaining about how life has been unfair to them.

Which person are you: the one that wallows or the one that picks themselves up? Where do these positive people get this bounce back ability and how can you get this trait today?

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Life is full of roses…and thorns!

I have said it before, life can be difficult. You hear all these motivation gurus say that the world is your mirror and if you are being negative then you will attract negative stuff into your life. In truth, life just happens. Even the most positive people get unexpected curveballs in their lives.

For instance, you get a phone call from the office telling you to come and pick up your stuff because you’ve been laid off. Then they insult you by saying it’s not that you were doing a bad job, it’s just the economy is in shambles. How do you respond to that? What if you have a family and they were counting on that pay check? What if you had just taken a loan and now you don’t have the income to pay it back? What if you had a medical condition and being employed helped you tap into the health insurance cover your employer provided. Where do you get the money now?

While all this is hypothetical, there are people who have gone through such problems; probably even worse. It is in stories such as these that you discover whether you have a bounce back ability or not. Some people lie down and complain about the problems they are facing. They go around looking for an audience to hear their sob stories. In time, they refine their stories to the point that deep down they enjoy sharing it. Other people try to get back up as quickly as possible.

Here is how you can bounce back:

  1. Don’t let yourself wallow

I’ve read before that if you are feeling sad you should allow yourself to feel sad and that it will eventually ebb away. Some of us look for every excuse to listen to our favourite sad songs. The musicians just seem to understand exactly what we are going through. But isn’t life too short to spend it being sad? Wouldn’t you rather be smiling?

Recently, I’ve discovered this principle that while feelings cause actions, actions can also cause feelings. For instance, if you are sad (feeling) you are likely to listen to sad music (action). However, if you listen to uplifting music (action) you are going to be happier (feeling). Try it out.

Writers and people in other creative professions understand this concept well. If you don’t feel like writing, you will stare at your Microsoft Word for hours. But if you decide to start writing something anyway, you will start feeling psyched up to write even more than you had originally planned and the words will keep flowing.

  1. Take out the emotion and understand your problem

Simply put, you can’t fight against what you don’t understand. For those who’ve had a big problem such as being fired unexpectedly, it usually comes as a hammer blow. Your emotions are all over the place. What’s worse, fear starts to kick in spinning all types of tales about your imminent demise. It is a bad place to be mentally.

If you can somehow strip away all the emotions you are feeling and confront your problem with solutions in mind, you will be able to come to terms with your situation.

For instance, if you’ve lost your job, here are some ideas of what you can do:

  • Figure out what you are good at e.g. perhaps this is your chance to become a freelancer in writing, a consultant, a businessman, a salesman, develop a product from home etc.
  • If your quality of work led to you being fired, come up with ideas on how to tackle that problem so that it doesn’t threaten your next job.
  • Could you go back to school to improve your credentials?
  • Had you been planning to take a break from work to go on a sabbatical or extended holiday?
  • Do you have a connected network that can help you get a new job?

These are all ideas that can take the emotion out and help you focus on solutions.

  1. Go for counselling

There is a stigma around seeking support through counselling sessions no matter what problem you are facing.

Counselling should not always be used as a last resort.

It helps you get out of your head and see your problems from a different perspective. You get to speak to someone who is concerned about your well-being and wants to see you get back on your feet again. Most importantly, you get to share your thoughts and fears in a non-judgemental environment. Going for counselling can help you bounce back sooner than you would have if you did it alone.

Plus, it doesn’t always have to be a professional counsellor. Maybe you have someone who cares for you and always gives you an ear when you need advice. Seek them out and share with them. As I always say, be there for others also. If you see someone who you think is struggling with a problem, reach out to them and offer to help them find solutions.

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  1. Take it on the Chin

Unfortunately, the more you go through negative situations and come out of them ‘alive’, you build character which helps you every time you face adversity. Bounce back ability is a learned trait.

What happened the first time you fell off your bike? You had to get up and try again till you finally got it. That is true of life. You will face different tough situations and each time you will have to decide whether you will shy away or you will take on the problem head on. The more you face your demons, the greater your bounce back ability will become.

  1. Have faith

I am reminded of the story of the origin of the Christian song ‘It is well with my soul’. This man put his family on a ship and was going to meet up with them later but then received word that the ship had capsized. What a devastating moment! But do you know what happened when his ship got to the spot where his family had died? He wept for them and wrote “It is well; it is well with my soul”. You can imagine all the pain he felt at that moment. Yet he spoke from a point of faith that everything will be okay.

It would be a lie if I said that you won’t have scars; that you won’t face overwhelming battles. That is just part of life. The key is to have faith that everything will be okay in the end. As motivational speaker Les Brown says, “It is much easier to have faith when everything is going well.” But it is in those moments when you are afraid, when you are in pain, when you are beaten down that you have to find a way to have faith. Once you lay hold of it and believe in a positive outcome, you are able to cope with whatever you are facing.

All these tips will help you as you develop your bounce back ability. Just remember, even fighters who are champions get hit from time to time. The only difference is they keep coming back over and over again until their problem (the other fighter) is defeated. You can bounce back as well!

 

Happy New Year!!!

Sometimes it feels like a whole year has just flown by. But in truth, a lot happened last year; you experienced more, learned more, and became more.

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With the start of 2016,  I am wishing you a great year filled with blessings, lessons, growth, peace and joy.

If you have a blog, may this be the year that you work out new ways of engaging with your audience and meeting their needs. If you are a reader, may you discover endless ‘mind riches’ through all the blogs you follow and those that you will discover.

To all those focused on mental health, may you learn more about the subject and about yourself. May you gain valuable insights that may help you help those who are experiencing mental health problems. I hope to play a role in that journey.

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Life is going to throw a lot of surprises at you this year; some good, others bad. But all in all, the most important thing will be the state of your mind and how well you take care of it. Please do not forget to also look out for the well-being of others.

All the best to you in your lifelong pursuit of happiness.

World Mental Health Day: Key Points From Social Media

Today is World Mental Health Day!

It is a day to raise awareness on mental health illnesses. For others, it is celebration of triumph over diseases and conditions that strike at the heart of our being.

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Many people probably didn’t notice this day or even know much about it. That sounds eerily similar to the indifference observed when it comes to issues of mental health.

But you know what, that’s okay. Sometimes, unless you have been touched by a situation, a person, a condition, or a disease, it is unlikely that you will care a lot (or at all) about a certain issue. That’s why it is important to speak up and let others know what’s going on. Here is where social media comes in.

Key Points from Social Media about Mental Health

The interesting lesson from today is that a lot of people DO CARE about mental health issues. Just browsing around social media, you realize that you are just one voice among many; hoping that other people will awaken to the reality that mental illnesses are among us and there are those struggling everyday with such issues.

Here is a list of some of the key points that people shared:

  1. Mental Health is just as important as Physical Health

One of the greatest frustrations for those who know about mental health issues is that people don’t think it matters as much as physical health. Check your blood pressure; check your heart beat. But no one is wondering about the mind.

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The brain can get sick just like any other part of the body.

Just look around the internet and you will see more “work out your body” pieces and few “mental workout programs”. It’s just not as important.

We are here to say “Mental Health is Very Important”.

  1. Mental Illness does not discriminate

It does not matter who you are, what you do, where you are from, who you know or how much you workout, mental illness can affect anyone.

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Knowing this should make people stop all the name calling, shaming and stigmatizing because mental illness can affect you as well as your friends and loved ones.

  1. People should stop trivializing Mental Health

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Have you ever heard a statement that sounds something like this: “I didn’t have anything to do today; I’m sooo [sic] depressed”? This is just one of the things people do. They don’t understand that there is a world of difference between simply being sad (or bored) and being depressed.

There were other comments on social media such as “Bipolar disorder is not being moody”. These are just a few examples of how people trivialize issues that affect many lives. If people had any idea what others go through – how much pain and sadness others feel as they are struggling with mental illnesses – then they would show more compassion.

  1. You are NOT Alone

I’ve said it before but when you are going through a mental health issue, it is easy to feel that you are the only one suffering; That life chose to punish you.

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The reality is that there are many other people from all over the world going through their own version of pain. Like you, they have had to suffer in silence. When they tried to raise their voices, they were shamed. People just don’t understand until they have walked a mile in your shoes.

But fear not; you are not alone. There are many people who have a sense of what you are going through. There are many organizations and groups geared toward raising awareness and helping to find solutions for mental problems.

  1. Take care of your health

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Another point was that people need to take responsibility for their health. Go for check ups, analyze your family’s mental health history, take the medicine prescribed to you for your mental illness and educate yourself on mental health.

  1. There is a lot of support out there

Who do you turn to when your life is in turmoil? As I have said before, it is good to have a support system around you.

The beauty of our interconnected world means that you can join support groups online and you can meet people going through similar mental illnesses and exchange ideas.

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It was also great to see comments from people who have had mental health problems encouraging others and saying things like “You are not alone” and “Things get better eventually”.

Take heart and believe that you will find a way to manage your condition or cope with a loved one’s struggle with illness. It will not be easy, but you can find a way.

Takeaway

It is great to see a lot of people united in spreading the message of love for those with mental health problems. No matter what problem you have, do not be ashamed; it was not your choice to become mentally ill.

We love you and wish you well.

Suicide: The Power of Words

Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. – Nathaniel Hawthorne

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In recent weeks, the hashtag #JusticeForConrad has been trending. If you are not familiar with its origins, it’s about a girl, Michelle Carter, who is accused of involuntary manslaughter for allegedly convincing her ‘friend/boyfriend’ Conrad Roy III to commit suicide.

Background

According to news reports, Conrad took his own life in July last year. It is said that he had struggled with depression. If you read from numerous news sources, he was a nice young man. The only issue was that he had suicidal thoughts which ultimately led him down the wrong path.

As is the case with suicides, he left a lot of devastated people behind. The toll it has taken on the family has been immense and we always sympathize with those who have gone through such pain.

Unfortunately, the family has been put through more pain due to an ongoing case against Michelle Carter who is accused of allegedly encouraging Conrad to take his own life.

A series of text messages are being used to show that Carter played a role in Conrad’s suicide. According to an article on wtvr.com, New Bedford Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn said that the accused’s words were “harmful, offensive and likely to cause an immediate, violent act”.

For now, the case is still ongoing.

The Power of Words

If you were to do a quick check online, you will encounter a lot of comments about what did or did not happen in the Conrad Roy case. It is there that we discover how much power we have with our words.

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Through the ages and in many literary works, many people have acknowledged the power of words. Words can bring healing, peace, and happiness or tear others down and cause great pain.

Here are some quotes on words:

“Words are the keys to the heart.”
Chinese proverb

“Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them for a lifetime.”
Dale Carnegie (1888-1955)

“If we could measure the damage to corporations from gossip, it might be more than the GNP of the Third World!”
Harvey Mackay
Author of Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and Pushing The Envelope

“Speak when you are angry– and you will make the best speech you’ll ever regret.”
Laurence J. Peter (1919 – 1988)
Educator, author of The Peter Principle

“The language we use to communicate with one another is like a knife. In the hands of a careful and skilled surgeon, a knife can work to do great good. But in the hands of a careless or ignorant person, a knife can cause great harm.”
Exactly as it is with our words.”
Source Unknown

Here is one from the Bible:

Proverbs 18:21 (KJV) – Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

It can take you a lot of hours to go through all the quotes dealing with the effect words have on us and on others.

Speak Love

If you’ve ever had a problem, you will notice how quick people are to give you their views on what you should do. In a situation where you are actually conscious of the power everything you say can have on another person’s life, you will realize that counselling others is not easy.

When you factor in issues of mental health and depression, you will realize that it is always important to choose your words carefully. I have been in situations where it was important to speak a word of life into a person who had given up on living. It is scary how powerful words can be.

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A good approach is to do everything from a place of Love.

I do not know where you are right now. I do not know where you have been. I do not know how your life has been like up to this moment. I do not know what joys you’ve experienced nor the pain you have suffered. I do not know what your beliefs are.

But what I do know is that you are special and you are important!

The world needs you to be you and to give of yourself in love and service to others. I’ve said this many times, but no matter what you are going through, never give up. Everything always works out!

Try to seek out and spend time with those who speak words from a point of love. May you also show others the same love with your words.

Every individual has a place to fill in the world and is important in some respect whether he chooses to be so or not. – Nathaniel Hawthorne