The light streams into the shadows of my mind
illuminating the darkness
It travels down the corridors of my scary places
provoking me to follow it as only light can
In that instant it becomes clear that
Riding the waves of light is the only way to chase
away the boogie man who is forever haunting me
On his job, trying to steal my dreams
captivating me with lies
So. I. Ride
by Charisse Rhodes
Open your device to a social media site and there you will find countless stories of people sharing the good side of life. Smiling faces, gorgeous pictures, successful businesses or perfectly coiffed kids. Not to be a stick in the mud but there is another side to all this perfectness. It’s the real side. The everyday side. The hard work and the tears side. The story of the kids who are not doing well or the cheating spouses, or the husband/wife being beaten or struggling to just make it through the day. There is the side behind the smiles where few dare to go. It is the side that we try not to let others see, try to run from or don’t believe that anyone truly wants to know. While I enjoy Facebook, ‘Perfect’terest, ‘and blogs as much as the next person, I am careful to remind myself that there is life beyond the screen. Actually, there is often a much bigger story behind the pretty.
People are dying trying to be like Mike. Before all this seemingly social media, we really didn’t have the view into the lives of others. Occasionally, I remember my mom telling me she would sew her name onto the back of my pants when I asked for a pair of coveted Gloria Vanderbilt jeans (shhh…age revealer) because if anyone’s name was going to be on my backside it would be hers since her hard earned cash purchased them. Too often I was reminded “we don’t keep up with the Jones”, a popular statement of my youth. Unfortunately, with technology, the Jones’ are constantly in our faces, on our televisions, at our desks and every other glowing box we see. We have not become more social as we have voyeuristic. Reality television is relentless. And while it has it’s place, we must remember that what we do in our own lives is equally as important as what the next person is doing in theirs.
The reason for this article is because depression is real. Suicide is not just for teens and mental illness does not indicate that one is weak. The truth is depression rates are increasing. If we are not careful, I strongly believe our voyeuristic, reality based, idolization of those perceived “haves vs. have nots” will continue to permeate a mentality of lack and discontent which will make an already often economic based struggle that much worse. Personally, for many reasons, my environment is better when the television is off. Many in my family, including myself are the “feeling type.” We feel our feelings very strongly. Depression definitely chases us frequently. Because of this, we recognize that the lives in front of us should get our priority at all times.
Here are some facts.
- Women are now more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men.
- Approximately 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. (If it’s not yourself, you know someone)
- 10-15% of women suffer from postpartum depression
- An American dies by suicide every 12.95 minutes
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10-24
- And the 5th leading cause for ages 45-59
See Suicide 2015 Facts and Figures and Depression and Mental Health by the Numbers: Facts, Statistics, and You for more information.
We must not be deceived by the emojis and smiles on a screen. We must not ignore the pressure that some feel every day by the weight of life’s circumstances placed on them. We must stop judging and start helping. We must recognize that depression is not a weakness, but a covert operation to look as normal as Mr & Mrs Jz, Jones, Wests and any other person’s life that society has continually invited us to peer into, yet remain unbiased, unchallenged.We must come from behind our screens and build a tribe of local supporters who have our back. We must lift one another up in prayer when our brother’s or sisters are unable to pray for themselves. We must learn when to close the door and turn off the noise and when to open our door and ask the questions to those we claim to love…Are you ok? How can I help? And then listen with our hearts for the answer. While our social media is entertaining, remember that a word typed on a page can’t replace a touch on a shoulder or a hand. There is nothing sexy or pretty about death my friends.
I leave you with a video by Prince Ea that I enjoy.
Be good to yourself and help somebody along the way.