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Depression feels like an overwhelming emptiness

Gadiel Lazcano

For as common as it is, depression is still one of the least understood prevalent mental illnesses here in Wichita. Those living with Seasonal Affective Disorder, Postpartum Depression, Major Depressive Disorder, and other types of depressive illnesses are not sad in the way that society understands. Sadness may be cured by a good job, a tasty meal, the love of family, or the newest gadget. Instead, depression feels like an overwhelming emptiness. The hobbies or past-times that once brought joy no longer fire the same pleasurable synapses they once did. And objective reminders of all the reasons that we “should” be happy only bring guilt and shame that the good things in life cannot overcome the dark chasm that we feel inside.

Efforts to feel something – anything at all – sometimes culminate in self-harming behaviors. Others who simply cannot see an end to the emptiness sometimes feel that no life at all is preferable to decades of life like this. This makes depression one of the deadliest mental illnesses, and is worthy of much more attention than being advised to cheer up.

If you’re worried that someone you care about lives with depression, know the local resources available for mental health care. Check-in with them often and know how to talk about depressive illnesses in a productive way. Be able to ask if they have thought about hurting themselves, and if they have a plan. And know how to respond in a helpful and non-judgmental way if they respond in the affirmative to those questions. Get your loved one to a professional, and do not leave them alone. You may be all they have.

Eric Litwiller has served the south central Kansas community through his work at Mental Health Association since September of 2017. As Director of Development and Communications, he is charged with seeking the private investment required to raise awareness of the scope of mental health concerns throughout the region in an effort to eliminate the unfair stigma associated with mental illness.