According to the World Health Organisation, depression affects more than 120 million people around the world. Right here on our doorstep, records indicate that at least 9% of Malaysians suffer from major depression.
WHEN I was in boarding school in Australia, I remember the day I first met Miyuki. News travelled fast through our corridors about this foreign girl who was coming to live with us. Through the grapevine, we heard she had been expelled from several schools in Japan for breaking so many of their rules. We were all expecting a “wild child” but she wasn’t what we expected. She had huge brown eyes, which reminded me of a Japanese anime character and she was also very quiet.
Apparently, one of the rules she had broken in Japan was the fact she had not dyed her hair black. The teacher made her stand outside the class, as punishment for her lighter hair colour. Her hair was naturally brown because she was half French but the school insisted that it must be black, like everyone else! The pressure to conform started wearing her down over the years. She was a misfit in society being only half Japanese and she spiralled into a depression by the age of 15.
Depression is something that can strike us at any point in time. We all get depressed now and then. We’re only human but if you’re feeling sad, anxious, empty, worthless or helpless for a prolonged period of time (which can be anything from two weeks to months, or even years,) you could be suffering from clinical depression.
Here are some of the questions you might want to ask yourself if you suspect you could be suffering from depression. Have you lost interest in things that usually give you pleasure and enjoyment? Do you lack energy and passion in your life? Do you dread going to work? Do you have difficulty sleeping or sleep too much because you feel unmotivated?
If any of this strikes a chord, you are not alone. According to the World Health Organisation, depression affects more than 120 million people round the world. Right here on our doorstep, records indicate that at least 9% of Malaysians suffer from major depression. Similar to global data, depression is also the fourth most disabling disease in Malaysia.
It is something that can be treated and, like many terrible storms in our lives, it can pass but positive steps need to be taken first. Similarly, if you know someone at home or in the work place who might be depressed, don’t shrug it off. Get them to seek medical help or counseling because they would rarely search for treatment themselves.
Make no mistake. Depression is a potentially life-threatening mood disorder. We can never know what a person is capable of when they are filled with unhappiness.
An unstable mind is an unpredictable mind. An extreme example of depression leading to people wanting to end their lives would be Japan. It has one of the highest suicide rates in the world due to depression. According to the World Health Organisation, a staggering 30,000 suicides are committed per year, approximately one suicide every 15 minutes. Many of these deaths are linked to pressures in society and unemployment.
Years ago, I was dating a guy who had everything going for him. He started up his own business with a few partners and he was gushing with enthusiasm about the future of his new company. In the first year, business was bad because a major deal fell through. In the second, it was even worse because of the recession. He was starting to lose his confidence but the final straw was finding out his business partners were cheating him. He lost everything he put into that company, and more.
I figured an ambitious, driven guy like him would bounce back. You know the saying what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? Well, not always. He became a shadow of the person I knew. He lost his fighting spirit. When a person becomes depressed, it doesn’t matter how intelligent or talented they are. It is almost physically difficult for them to focus or concentrate on anything.
The heart-wrenching part was standing by helplessly as a partner, unable to stop the “laws of attraction” being set in motion. Call it cliché but you can just about be anything you want to be when you truly believe in yourself. The sheer power of positive thinking propels us toward great achievements. What we don’t talk about so much is that the opposite also holds true. If you feel like a failure, you can really become one.
He had all the symptoms of depression but like so many depressed cases, he had no desire to seek medical help. He was also against taking anti-depressants but fortunately for him, he stumbled on acupuncture treatments. It was meant to be for his back pains but they placed extra needles for his depression.
I am not sure if it was just the acupuncture treatments that did the trick but he eventually came out of his depression. I guess it was probably a combination of things because his business started to show the first real stirrings of hope. It was slowly gathering momentum, which helped to build back his confidence level.
I am relieved he became the person I once knew when I first met him. He fully recovered from this low point in his life. I’m no longer a girlfriend or helpline but I’m someone he can still call a friend, years later.
If you think you are depressed, seek professional help. If you can’t find someone you can trust to speak about how you feel, you could try calling the Befrienders at 03-7956 8144. It’s volunteer based but their lines are open 24 hours a day. Sometimes, just airing your feelings or heavy burdens can make you feel a lot lighter, even if it’s to a total stranger. Also, you could email or write in to my website, if that helps, and I will try my very best to write back to you.
- National Depression Screening Day 2010 (psychcentral.com)
- Knowing the signs of suicide and what to do (vamortgagecenter.com)
- Suicides, depression cost Japan $32 billion – gov’t (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Our Health: Speaking out on depression (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- 95 Million Patients with Depression Remain Untreated, WHO Reports (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Heartbreak-Related Depression: the Alexa Ray Joel Story (aolhealth.com)
- Depression, Suicide and Multiple Sclerosis #MultipleSclerosis (spinytim.com)
- ADHD, Depression, and Suicide: How Parents Can Keep Children Safe (health.usnews.com)
- A Review of a Suicide Perspective and The Military (socyberty.com)
- Coming to Terms With Depression (webmd.com)