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Depression Compassion

Three months ago I suffered a trauma. While the physical effects were manageable, the emotional ones were something else all together. This was something I had coped with many times in my life, but now at age 63, it was different. My fear and obsession over what had happened became all-encompassing. I slept poorly and the exhaustion made things worse. I started thinking a lot about death. I stopped wanting to do things and became uncomfortable leaving the house. Then it started to get harder to get out of bed. I stopped enjoying my hobbies, food and even my family. Every day I felt sad and desperate.

Then one day one of my daughters told me that I had to get professional help. She said I was past the point where I could just "pull myself together." She showed me how there were things going on in my brain that were basically a disease, and that it was treatable.

I followed her advice, and three months later my life has turned around. I started taking a prescription medication which changed the out-of-balance chemistry in my head. It didn't go smoothly at first, and I had a lot of doubts. But little by little, things started changing in my head.

The fear began to subside. I gradually stopped obsessing about the trauma. I began to really enjoy time with my family as I once did. Then I became interested in my surroundings, my work, my play. I regained the weight I had lost and resumed exercising. Thoughts of death have all but vanished. I began looking forward to going to bed, and also to waking up. I actually feel positive and content about several things in my life that troubled me even before the trauma. My FOMO ("fear of missing out," for you non-millenials) is much less. I'm not afraid to leave the house and travel any more. And I'm much closer to my lifelong goal of "living in the moment."

But the main reason I am writing this is something else that I have learned from all of this: I have learned to be compassionate of people who find their day-to-day lives hard to cope with, who find it hard to get out of bed in the morning and smell the fresh air of a new day, who find even simple tasks daunting and complex ones paralyzing - people who are depressed. I used to have a mild contempt for these people who could not appreciate their short lives - who could not "pull themselves together."

Now I understand. No one wants to be this way. And if they are, it may be out of their control. And if that's the case, they should and must seek professional help as soon as possible. Because life is so short, and every new day should be treasured. If you know someone like this, encourage them to get help - and show them compassion!

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