“Depression” and “Suicide”

By Bro Ruel V. Bancoro SVD

Bro Ruel V Bancoro SVD (left) in a Mass at the interior region of Tanzania.

(Brother Ruel is a registered nurse and a medical doctor. He is Divine Word Missionary brother. He hails from the Philippines and currently works in the SVD Mission of Kenya in the SVD Province of Kenya-Tanzania. The following article extracted from the author’s Facebook Account.

Let us talk about “Depression” and “Suicide”

On my second year as a medical student year 2006, I was very thankful of what has been going through in my life. I just returned then to the Philippines from the US after working for many years as an RN. I was financially stable. I was excelling in medical school. I have loving and supportive family and friends surrounding me. No problems, right? One mid-afternoon, I took a taxi and told the driver to take me to the nearest hospital. I was hyperventilating and things were gloomy. I was at the end of my rope. Inside the ER, I calmly told the staff that if they don’t give me a sedative shot to calm me down, that I would harm myself. I messaged my family and told them that they should come and be with me.They were surprised. Just like everybody else who knew me personally. I was placed on 24-hour watch. I was started on anti-depressants for some months and had a weekly counselling for 2 months or so. I had the manic-depressive kind. I realized that it was primarily from a failed relationship a year earlier and how I was bottling things up. Unconsciously, I was trying to be strong and succeeding until something inside gave in. As a medical practitioner, I had the insight about the “problem”. I knew I needed help. I knew how, when and where to get it from and I seized on it. I recovered and became more equipped on how to battle that demon. God saved me then and am grateful for it. For countless others it might not be the same!

Depression can be subtle but it definitely kills! Being occasionally sad is different. Depression is the feeling of always being under a dark cloud, when things that were previously enjoyable or pleasurable lost their meaning and value, feeling of hopelessness and nothing to look forward to. I asked some religious on how to deal with someone who is depressed and most of them say that they ought to pray hard and trust God. Spirituality definitely helps when dealing with a depressed persons. My hope is that there will be more and more clinicians who would discuss the role of spirituality with their depressed patients. Yet the dynamics of depression is that sometimes it takes you to a place that you don’t see anything straight or clear, nothing seems to be helping even when praying. The spiritual greats like St. Mother Teresa are inspirational for their persistence in prayer life through utmost darkness. For most of the sufferers though, it is only when you’re out of that cloud that one can really avail of the grace of genuine prayer.

Depression is very common! We may be overlooking someone dear to us at this very moment. Look over your shoulder. It could be a parent, a spouse, a child, a sibling, a friend, a partner, a co-worker, a neighbor, a confrere. It could be anyone! They are walking zombies out there without us noticing. Don’t ignore them but reach out to them. You could be overlooking someone skilful at hiding emotions. Worse..that one could be you! It is not weak to admit it, it is not weak to talk about it. Medicines help too and we ought to help each other in fighting the stigma on availing psychiatric counselling. Seek your trusted friend. Try to get out of that persistent gloomy thoughts by talking and staying with positive people. You can reach out to me, even chat with me! I will never seen zone you! 

You can always find someone’s hand when you feel like you’re at the end of your rope. You might not see them, but they’re there. For the rest of us, we can be those hands that the hopeless, depressed and suicidal people are praying for.

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