Hope you’ve all been enjoying the summer!
It has been an eventful one both personally and professionally this year! My wife and I were fortunate enough to do a road trip all throughout the New England states this year which included a stop in Philadelphia on the 4th of July (historically very cool, but never again!), a few moments on the floor of the House of Representatives in DC, and I think the most exciting thing for me was seeing the airplane used by Wilbur and Orville Wright at Kitty Hawk! The little boy in me was so thrilled to see that it was the actual airplane, and not a replica! Amazing how that airplane was the predecessor for everything else in the skies today, and in the rest of the air and space museum!
In other news, I’m very thrilled that I was asked to join the team of very smart and excellent therapists at the Parkdale Therapy Group in St. Louis Park! Private practice is great, but I greatly enjoy having other professionals around to talk with over lunch, bounce questions off of, and to learn from in consultations. More about the Parkdale group is at www.parkdaletherapy.com.
It has been on my mind ever sense I heard the news about Robin Williams death. How can a man seemingly that happy, that hilarious, who seemed to have it all be so depressed? How can death seem like the best option one has?
Its clear that depression can be deeper and darker, and make one feel more alone than the rest of the world might realize. Until you’ve faced it for yourself, I don’t believe that we can truly know how deep the hole can go. Its sad that these issues and reflections on the pain of depression and sentiments of care only pop up in the media with the death of a celebrity, but the conversation is timely whenever it does.
In 2012 WHO estimated that 350 million people in the world have depression. That is almost exactly the population of USA and Canada combined according to 2012 figures! It is mind blowing just how pervasive it is, and that’s just depression! Were not even talking about PTSD, ADHD, Bipolar, and all the other diagnoses out there that are also taboo in our culture. I appreciated Michael Friedman’s words when he talked about the stigma of mental health:
“From an early age, children describe each other as “crazy” or “weird.” This can often result in teasing and bullying for children with mental health issues, and social distancing from adults. As a result, individuals struggling with depression will often feel worse as a result of this mistreatment and be less likely to seek care.”
I am encouraged that our culture is slowly waking up to the issues of mental health that surely were there the whole time, but now we are much more aware of and know how to treat. We shouldn’t feel “crazy or weird,” or alone in our struggles with depression when we know that the equivalent of the entire population of North America is suffering from it. I see that our culture is waking up to that fact, and that goes for all other mental health concerns as well. It is no longer looked at as a negative thing when somebody gets help, especially when there is help available. I believe it can be a humbling experience to ask for help, but that in its self is positive. Who wants to be around people who think they don’t need anything from anybody? We all need to feel loved, appreciated and cared for. We also need to get some things off of our chest once in a while.
There was only one article that I read about Robin Williams lately that ended with the thing about “if you or someone you know sufferers from depression, there is help. Call 1800-….etc.” It was even written in a bold font so everyone would notice it. That message I believe should be at the end of every one of those articles about Robin Williams, so I was surprised to see it at the end of only one. Why not put that message at the end of every sports article as well? Not that depression has anything to do with sports, but with 350 million people suffering with it, I would think we could stand to say it a little more often. So here it goes….
If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression, you (or they) literally have ~350 MILLION friends who deal with a similar struggle. You are not alone, AND there are proven ways to help that sort of thing. Do not be afraid to call a doctor or therapist. You wont be the first or last. There are people who make it their life’s work helping those who struggle with depression, and many are very good. You don’t have to go it alone, and we hope you find relief through working with these people. Give it a shot. You’re worth it.
Have a great day everybody!!
Jake Voelker MA, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Parkdale Therapy Group
1660 Highway 100 South, Suite 330
St. Louis Park, MN 55416