Red Flags

Sadly lots of sadness has recently sprung to my life from the secrets and darkness within the lives of the troubled.

Christmas is the worst time of year for people with depression and anxiety — we hear that all the time. It is the most difficult time of year to hide suicidal thoughts — we hear about that a lot. It is the most terrifying time for families and friends who know there is very little, if anything, they can do to take the pain away — but, we know giving up or walking away isn’t the answer.

Sure the sun will shine and the wind will blow, but the human spirit continues to struggle with the human condition now widely known to be mental illness. People only start to think about that or only start to open their eyes when the reality of mental disorders strike them directly personally or within their families.

I lost a dear friend to a common mental health condition, a condition that was there from childhood but never talked about or acknowledged for any number of reasons. Like a snowball, it became more and more difficult to handle and then too overwhelming to family and friends. 

An intervention had to take place and a few caring people stepped to the plate to take that bull by the horns vowing to carry it through and never walk away, no matter how difficult it could become. It took a total breakdown for us to take that step and from there we depended on professionals. The monster was too much for us to handle.

It was a long and grueling road, lots of hills and valleys, occasional detours and many setbacks. Faith and hope was about all we, the outsiders, could offer as medical science did its best to douse the fire from its roots. The fire wall kept us away as various theories were applied and various dosages of various medications were tested and carefully monitored.

Gratefully the patient was compliant, letting go of his shame and embarrassment, acknowledging the condition, and accepting professional help. Although most of the people who initially stood up and swore to not walk away, couldn’t hold on. It seemed hopeless to some family members and some friends, as he was moved from institution to institution, with time outs now and then that showed little progress, fading hope, and few signs of optimism.

Some of those who didn’t walk away early during this indescribable, complex and worrisome journey, eventually became ostracized — perhaps because they got too close and were too aware; or, perhaps because part of the therapy recommended a clean slate or a distance from those who intervened. Perhaps the time had come for the patient to start fresh with new dreams, new priorities and a new life.

Yes, I was one of a few people who was ostracized and that was extremely hard to take. We, the diehards, stuck it out and we continue to support each other knowing we saved a human being.

We are now just grateful that his darkness came to our light when it did and as it did, and that his efforts and his determination to overcome his demons, have now seemingly brought light to his life and promise to his loving family.  

There is indeed power in hope and I wish everyone faced with a loved one crushed in an abyss that is impossible to fully understand, faces head-on the red flags early, so more Christmases can be a time of true joy and celebration.