This week, the Kansas City area was stunned when a popular local television personality died at the age of 41 - by apparently committing suicide.
Fox4's Don Harman had apparently been suffering from depression for many years - although his on-stage personality was one of jokes, quips and cut-ups. And people this week were shocked that such a "happy, funny guy" could kill himself.
And hence one of the biggest misconceptions about depression.
Okay, everyone - get this straight:
Being 'depressed' is an emotion.
Having 'depression' is an illness.
They are NOT the same thing.
I should know.
I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression in 1995.
My battle with depression was long, hard and grueling...not to mention, extremely painful.
Depression is an all-consuming illness that can manifest itself in various ways. For me, it took over my entire body.
My vision was affected - in that I couldn't see colors any more, and saw the world in shades of grey and darkness. As I told my husband one day, "I've lost the rainbows."
My appetite was affected - I lost my sense of taste and was not hungry, losing quite a bit of weight.
My energy was affected - I had chronic insomnia; I couldn't sleep; and I couldn't walk more than 10 steps without feeling exhausted. Even the simple act of trying to make a PB&J sandwich was more than I could handle. I just couldn't do it.
My muscles were affected - every muscle in my body ached, and it hurt like the dickens just to get out of bed in the morning. So, I didn't. I just pulled the covers over my head and hid from the world.
And worst of all - my brain was affected. Reasoning and decision-making skills were pretty much gone...and my emotions ran from feeling sad to feeling suicidal.
It hurt. It hurt like hell.
And it felt like I was trapped in a deep, dark black pit that I was never, NEVER, going to crawl out of. Ever.
It took years....years of medication, therapy, hospital stays, counseling, and determination...to finally put my depression into what I consider "remission." I've been in remission since 2002, but I constantly gauge myself to insure that I am not sliding back down in to "The Pit."
So many times, I wanted to give up. I wanted to end the fight to get better. I wanted to end the pain.
And I wanted to end what I thought was dragging the rest of my family down.
But I held on.
And it got better.
Slowly, for sure. I mean, it took 7 years. SEVEN years. It wasn't an overnight thing.
I just wish Don Harman had held on. Had kept up the fight.
Because it WILL get better.
If ANYONE is reading this that is suffering from depression, or thinks they may, please know that it does get better.
With the right treatment, the pain will go away.
And the rainbows will come back.