Friday, June 8, 2018

Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade and depression





Unless you have suffered from depression or have lived with someone who does you will not understand how two such successful people who seemingly had everything going for them could commit suicide. But if you have experienced significant depression or lived with someone who does, you do! 

How can one describe depression to one who has never experienced it? 


Waterboarding of the soul


The dark night of the soul

Being stuck in your own head with all its fears and thoughts without a way out

Pain, pain and more pain - the kind that you cannot escape from

Brain fog where everything is a struggle, everything is hard

Darkness and sadness and hopelessness

Drowning in a vast ocean

Constant feeling of fear

If you have experienced depression you will have your own metaphors but none of them are sufficient to describe the experience. Most illnesses can be described. This one can only be felt and it feels like there is no escape. Money, position, power, family and any number of other things we often aspire to cannot free the depressed person from the prison of the mind. It is an illness and that illness needs compassion, understanding and help.

Because this illness resides in the brain, there is no escape from it. It can appear at the oddest moments and rob the brightest and most successful of their joy. It is in the brain but it is not just a matter of just "getting over it," or "thinking positive thoughts." It often requires extensive therapy and medication and ways to cope with the inner pain. 

If you cannot understand the suicides of Anthony Bourain or Kate Spade it is because it is not understandable apart from understanding the unpredictability of depression and the darkness that even successful people experience. Outward appearances can hide deep inner pain regardless of one's success in life. 

Many evangelicals and deeply religious people misunderstand depression thinking that if only one would give their issues to God all would be well and quote Scripture verses to that affect. Life is not that simple and answers are not that easy. Depression is a disease. "Just get over it," is not an answer but a deeply painful attitude to those who suffer from depression. You would not say that to someone with cancer and it equally does not apply to depression.

There are, thankfully, many good therapies for depression, as well as medications (Don't be one of those - especially in the religious community - who look down on those who take medication for depression). Sometimes it is learning how to deal with the disease rather than curing the disease. It can be a hard road but one worth travelling so that joy can replace depression, if only part of the time.

I have deep compassion for Anthony, Kate and their families. In a moment of time and in a season of depression, suicide seemed the only way out. I wish with all my heart they had chosen a different path but understanding the metaphors above I understand the pain. If you know someone who suffers from depression, encourage them to get help. It is available! Like anything else it can be a hard road but worth the effort. A life lost to depression robs the world of a precious individual made in God's image and of inestimable value.

TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com.

"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."

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