Suicide is Painless

That’s the title of the theme from M*A*S*H and I always wondered why it was appropriate for a TV show about a war, but that’s a topic for another day. Now that we’ve had time to absorb what Robin Williams has done, I’m really hoping the dialogue around suicide and mental health will change a bit. I hope Williams’ universal appeal is enough to make some people learn more about depression and how it differs from ordinary feelings of being down or sad.  

I recently stopped subscribing to Chatelaine magazine but I still get the newsletter and last week there was a brilliant piece on recognizing depression in yourself. I’ve written before about how people often believe their thoughts are their thoughts and that’s the end of it. Not true.  Thoughts and perspectives can be altered once you learn how to recognize and catch them in the act. That’s the trick, though. In Chatelaine, Valerie Taylor, psychiatrist-in-chief at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto isolates four ways to tell if you’re depressed that may have become so routine for the person, they don’t even notice them. It’s part of who they are and how they think.  I hope this article helps some people realize they are depressed. It’s not that everyone’s at risk of suicide but that not being depressed is a better way to live.

The four signs listed by Dr. Taylor are: Struggling with everyday tasks; the routine of life seems like a daunting chore.

Sleeplessness. Chronic insomnia is unhealthy for your body and your mind. And if you can’t turn off your churning thoughts, it’s a signal you’re not well.

An inability to let things go.  Small and historical wrongs against you stick with you. You play them over and over. It’s a form of obsessive thinking.

You can’t work, you’re overwhelmed. You may actually go to work, but you aren’t as productive as usual.

Dr. Taylor recommends Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It seems a good time to admit that I took Cognitive Behavioral Therapy from a practitioner in Toronto. It’s a proven psychiatric tool, not voodoo or experimental hocus-pocus.  As Dr. Taylor explains, it forces you to look for evidence to back up the way you’re thinking.  Essentially, it puts you in charge of your thoughts instead of the other way around.  CBT is powerful and potentially life-changing.

Robin Williams, a journalist in Brockville who everyone said was ambitious and the nicest guy ever, perhaps someone you know, seems fine on the outside and then goes and ends their life. Those are the extremes.  There are likely millions of people who are struggling against depressed, negative and self-destructive thinking and that’s diminishing the quality of their lives and their relationships.

You can read the full article from Chatelaine HERE.

2 thoughts on “Suicide is Painless”

  1. I’ve witnessed each of these characteristics with a friend who had severe depression which in more recent years they’ve managed to get under control with the right meds. And although I personally can’t identify with all of them, number 3 hits way to close to home and number 2 periodically occurs. As for number 1 and 4, not yet but there have been days.

    1. It’s true Allan, sometimes some of these things come and go but if they persist, and you experience them all at once, it might be time to go for help. As a former sufferer I’m living proof that a person doesn’t have to live that way.

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