In a dark hole

Dr Pamula Mills

Dear Readers,
I watched an episode of the “Manns” last week and it dealt with ‘conquering fears.’ David Mann, who confessed having a fear of enclosed places, was locked in a casket that was measured for his size and weight; there was no room for error. Two small holes were drilled in the top of the box to accommodate breathing. He had to remain in this dark place for one minute. It was difficult and he was three quarters of the way there, when his son, David Junior, decided to place a white mouse, another of David Senior’s fears, into the box, through one of the breathing holes. Suffice it to say, the competition was now over; that dark place became a nightmare.

Last Saturday, upon completion personal devotions, I was led to telephone a friend, whom I have not seen in several months and who lives abroad. After a brief chit chat of ‘catch ups and niceties,” she confessed that she was delighted to hear from me and proceeded to tell me about the last few months of her life.
She described her life as being in a dark hole with very few, if any, images about forward mobility. She talked about not wanting to talk to anyone, not answering her phone, canceling dates with friends, little desire to go to work or church, avoiding her friends, staying in bed all day, feeling down and moody, refusing to open windows to allow light to flow into the house and declaring that her life seemed hopeless.

She took a long pause and then continued by saying that she decided that she needed to see a professional and had made an appointment to do just that. I was relieved by the last disclosure and encouraged her to do the same. Her decision to seek professional help was strengthened when she realized that I did not judge her, leading her to acknowledge that this was the reason she avoided her friends. We spoke for several minutes more, I prayed with her, she thanked me for calling and we hung up.

I realized that my friend was extremely depressed and cherished the few minutes we shared. More importantly, her resistance to reach out to local friends for the fear of being judged or ridiculed, was a sad reality. This was particularly concerning for her, as she is a believer and felt that others may have clichéd her to death (no pun intended), with spiritual quotes. This thought left me perplexed.

Being depressed can feel like being in a dark hole. It can render emotions of hopelessness, despair, desperation loneliness and fear; it is real. Additionally, ANYONE can feel depressed, or extremely sad. It is vital, therefore to know the signs and become aware. Paying attention to life’s patterns and making good choices can keep you ahead of the game. Also, knowing your strengths, limitations and vulnerabilities can prove to be useful.

Depression can happen at any time, but is usually succeeded by some traumatic or eventful occasion in one’s life. Sometimes it is difficult to explain these feelings to others and the behaviours that follow can seem strange or foreign. Lack of concerned, understanding support, can exacerbate the case, leaving the victim susceptible to undesirable thoughts and actions.

Strive to be as knowledgeable as able of depression and take care of self. Be that individual who reaches out to others and just as importantly, be that non-judgmental person whom others can reach out and touch.

POINT TO PONDER: A dark hole can be a scary place. Askdoctorpam is a column that appears in this journal every week. Your letters and comments are encouraged. You may email your letters or comments to askdoctorpam, or write to Askdoctorpam P.O. Box F43736. Dr. Pam is a Clinical Psychologist trained in all areas of mental health.

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