By Carole Van Holbeck, MSAN Mental Health and Wellness Contributor
I recently read a poignant obituary in the Duluth News Tribune. My husband Ken hails from its sister city of Superior, Wisconsin. The obituary starts like this:
“Aletha Meyer Pinnow, 31, of Duluth, formerly of Oswego and Chicago, Ill., died from depression and suicide on Feb. 20, 2016.”
Got your attention?
Eleni Pinnow, Aletha’s sister was first on the scene of her sibling’s suicide. An associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Eleni wants to have an honest conversation about her sister’s life-long struggle with depression in the hopes her story might help others. She writes,
“Depression lied to my sister, told her that she was worthless. A burden. Unlovable. Undeserving of life. I imagine these lies were like a kind of permanent white noise in her life — a running narration of how unworthy she was. After years of the lies and the torment, my sister believed that depression told her the truth.”
Does something in Eleni’s narrative call to you? Do you or someone you love suffer from depression? I’m not talking about the occasional feelings of being sad or lonely we all experience. I am talking about persistent and long feelings of being overwhelmed and struggling.
Would you recognize the symptoms of depression in yourself or someone you love? The National Institute of Mental Health list possible symptoms as:
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Insomnia, early morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts (Web, MD)
One of the biggest hurdles to getting treatment for depression is admitting you have it. Over half of people who are chronically depressed ever seek treatment for their illness. Yes; depression is an illness.
Unfortunately, Aletha became a statistic. 1 in 10 people battling depression will commit suicide. Eleni does not say in her article if her sister ever sought help in her battle with depression. She sadly states,
“I could not save my sister. I could not reach my sister through her depression. Aletha slipped from my grasp, and I cannot bring her back. I can only urge others to distrust the voice of depression. I can plead for people to seek help and treatment.”
Don’t know where to start? A good place is MSAN’s website. Click on the link at the end of this blog and discover the resources available to you and your family on our Mental Health and Wellness page.
Eleni’s final words to her sister communicate the truth of Aletha’s worth.
“Here is the truth: You have value. You have worth. You are loved. Trust the voices of those who love you. Trust the enormous chorus of voices that say only one thing: You matter. Depression lies. We must tell the truth.”
My final words to you:
If you don’t remember anything else after reading this blog, remember this one thing – DEPRESSION LIES. Ask for help if you need it. You are worth it.
To learn about the Mental Health Resources available to military families, please visit the Military Spouse Advocacy Network’s (MSAN’s) website at https://www.milspouseadvocacynetwork.org.
Find additional resources for this blog at:
Signs of Clinical Depression
To read the article featured in this blog, please visit http://www.startribune.com/obituary-told-the-painful-truth-about-suicide/373378961/.