@ Chuck Duboff
I asked Geoff to write this Blog; I have been truly blessed to have a friend like Geoff. Often times when the “dark days” take hold, I am terrified that he will have had enough of our friendship and just say that’s it…I have had far too many friends who never took the time to understand what it is I experience. Not only has Geoff tried to understand, but he has also demonstrated an incredible patience. He is there for me as a friend 24/7 (thus his nickname) and it truly does give me some strength and hope. Geoff is one of those people who would drop everything to help in a serious time of need…he truly is a unique soul. As Geoff indicates in the Blog below, Depression just grabs hold and there is nothing you can do…Michael Landsburg, Clara Hughes have come forward and brought light to this horrible disease…their speaking about this, along with having friends like Geoff, gives me strength and hope. If you are the friend of someone who suffers from Depression…be patient when the dark days arrive, try and understand and most importantly, don’t abandon them…it’s like a knife cutting through the soul.
© Geoff Brookes
Chuck asked me if I would write about what it’s like to be a friend of someone who suffers from depression.
First and foremost, I am Chuck’s friend. Every friendship is unique, as every human being is unique. My friendship with Chuck started with the return of the Winnipeg Jets hockey team. We were both on the Jetsowner.com website, as fellow “uber fans” cheering the return of the Jets. Chuck invited me to a Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball game. We discovered that we shared many interests, and we had a blast talking about baseball, the game, the Jets, music, books….
A couple of months later, Chuck revealed that he frequently struggles with depression.
Normally, when a friend is “down”, you try to cheer them up. When they need help, you try to give them a hand.
When someone suffers from depression, the desire to encourage or help is there, but you learn that, like people who suffer from migraine headaches, sometimes there just isn’t anything you can do. You can draw the curtains and turn off the lights, but it’s something that will “pass” when it decides that it’s run its course.
Of course, if it was that benign, or that simple, it would not be such a problem for those who cope with it. It’s like a migraine of the soul – where pain is the reality, distorting the person’s perception of themselves, and attacking their sense of self-worth.
It’s somewhat more acceptable now to openly discuss depression. Many famous, successful people deal with this, according to wikipedia:
Michael Landsberg has spoken publicly about his depression. He makes it clear that it is a sickness, but that he is not a weak person. He just has a particular sickness called “depression”. He uses the hashtag #sicknotweak .
Clara Hughes – a Canadian multi-sport Olympic medal winner in both the summer and winter olympics – also speaks publicly about her depression.
It’s hard to know what to say, when Chuck is depressed. The instinctive impulse is to offer solutions, to praise, to remind him of his support circle, and of the joy in many aspects of his life. I think that sometimes one or more of these comments might help, in some small way. But what I understand from Chuck is that, like the migraine, his depression simply takes hold of him for a period of time, and my words are more like the mist from a waterfall. Most importantly, I think it’s the personal support that counts for something – the simple act of “being there” for Chuck.
And then, it will be over. Chuck has confirmed to me that these “rebound” times are often very creative and productive moments for him. I wonder if that’s how it is for the many celebrities and politicians who also suffer from depression.
We all have our own frailties and faults. We all have life issues that we must deal with. Some deal with migraines, some with depression; some with physical handicaps; some with an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. One of the hard things for people with depression is that they tend to hide the ailment well from most of the people around them, except for close friends and family. My own personal faith leads me to look forward to a day when such maladies are put behind us, and we are revealed to ourselves and others as the essential person that we are continually striving to be. We long for the day when the grey rain-curtain will turn to silver glass and be rolled back; to behold “white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise” [Tolkein, the Return of the King].
But until that day, we must find a way to manage through our days, coping with these ailments, including depression.
Thanks to my friendship with Chuck, I think I now understand the issues of depression far better than I did a few short years ago.