Fighting the urge to walk alone

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Mental illness encompasses a wide range of disorders that affect many. Whether you are personally struggling with the symptoms or someone you are close to is striving to overcome them, the effect is strong.

Mental disorders, in one form or another, affect all UVU students, professors, advisors and employees.

These disorders can be difficult, to say the least, but there are resources to fight and conquer them. One particular disorder is depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Depression, even the most severe cases, can be effectively treated. The earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is.”

With any difficult issue we are faced with in life, one of the best ways to begin handling it is to acknowledge it and become proactive in defeating it. It is easy to want to deny feelings that accept something else has a hold on us.

Pride oftentimes can interfere in situations like this, but it is usually more liberating when we can reach the point that we are willing to ask for help. The best part to remember is that in these trials, we don’t have to go through them alone. Create a support group of friends and family around you.

A common issue that can come from untreated depression is suicide. Discussion and awareness of the issue was highlighted following Robin William’s unexpected death.

It’s not that his death made depression or suicide more important than it is, because it’s always been extremely significant, but it helped people talk about and realize the severity of these issues.

It is easy to fear and feel uncomfortable with topics and issues that we don’t understand, but the best way to help those struggling is to become educated and comfortable speaking about these disorders.

There have been pressing circumstances in my own life in regards of depression and suicide this past year that have inspired me to educate myself and others on these issues. You never know the difference you can make in someone’s life.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that even the most successful and happiest seeming of people can struggle with a dark corner they don’t know how to approach.

If you or someone you know is struggling with these feelings, it’s not your/their fault. Nothing is wrong with you or them, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about and there is always help waiting.

UVU Student Health Services Coordinator of Suicide Prevention J.C. Graham said, “This is a tough thing. You don’t have to do it alone. Let’s get you connected to a counselor or therapist. Let’s work together as a team.”

One of the best ways to help fight depression and prevent suicide is to be aware of symptoms and know what to do if you begin recognizing them.

According to warning signs are the following: talking about wanting to die; talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose; talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain; talking about being a burden to others; increasing the use of alcohol or drugs; acting anxious; being agitated or reckless; sleeping too little or too much; withdrawing or feeling isolated; showing rage or talking about seeking revenge and displaying extreme mood swings.

The more signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Do not be afraid to reach out for help. The national suicide prevention lifeline is a free service that provides suicidal persons or those around them with support, information and local resources. Call 800-273-TALK (8255) anytime you are having dark thoughts or need guidance for someone around you.

Graham also has a UVU sustained prevention program called QPR. It is 50-minute suicide prevention training. The Q stands for “Question”. If you feel someone around you is at risk, ask him or her if they are having suicidal thoughts. Research shows that asking actually reduces risk.

The P stands for “Persuade”. This involves persuading the person to get help. And the R stands for “Refer”, for you to refer the person to resources like the national suicide prevention lifeline and UVU Student Health Services.

There are always hope and light at the end of the tunnel. “It is treatable. It might take time, but be proactive in your treatment,” Graham said.

In addition to counseling/therapy and possible medication based on severity of the disorder, strategies to fight suicidal feelings include exercise, getting adequate sleep and setting up an individual treatment plan.

For those students and faculty who might not struggle with depression or suicidal thoughts personally, be mindful and intuitive of those around you. Remember the warning signs and increase your awareness by educating others.

You never know how big of a difference taking the time to say hello, smile or compliment someone could make. We all have our different battles in life, some internal and some external. It’s essential for us to look out for each other; we are not in this alone.