Now that the holidays are over, our families have come and gone, I have noticed how quiet things have become. I am not saying my house has become quiet with two kids, it is always loud. No, I am talking about internally. Inside my head, my heart and my soul. It seems that after all of the hub-bub of the holiday season, the winter gets longer, days get quieter and we slip into a funk. At least I do. This past Saturday, I attended a funeral for a friend. He was only 46. He leaves behind a wife and two boys. As I sat there listening to the stories of how amazing this man was, I couldn’t help but cry. I enjoyed the time I had spent with him. Lunches, church events, and family fun days. He loved to fish and do all the same outdoor adventures I did. It was hard when he moved away from Moscow. We drifted apart after the move. Sure, we checked in via phone calls and text messages. But that is really never the same. I found out that my friend was suffering from depression. I wondered, how? This man was smart, funny and has a great family. As I thought about it, I realized you are no less or more of a man or a woman or a human for having depression than you would be for having cancer or cardiovascular disease or a car accident. Depression is a part of our lives. We first need to admit that. There are days that are just hard. And that day leads to another day and then another and another. Soon you don’t even realize you are in fog; and if you do, it is hard to get out. I fight to get out, but I can’t. I need help. Sometimes I can’t find it in me to ask for help. It would be embarrassing. However, I married an amazing woman who knows me all too well. She can see when I am in a funk. She comes along side of me and encourages me. She doesn’t judge me or ridicule me. She supports me. She is like a hand in the fog that is outstretched; helping to lead me through. I can’t help but wonder if this is where my friend was. Could I have done something; Said something?
I say all of this to try and help us realize we don’t know what others are going through. They don’t know what we are going through, but if you realize that you are starting to slip into a funk, depression, whatever you want to call it, don’t be afraid to seek out help. It doesn’t have to be with a professional. It can be a friend you trust. Trust is key. On the flip side, if you know someone who is struggling, call them, check in. Offer to swing by and hang out. Take them out. Depression can be a terrible beast. The person probably won’t “snap” out of it just because you stopped by or said hi. It will be a process, but a process I will tell you is well worth it. We all experience depression. We all need a friend. We as Elks can and should be there for each other.
Rick Sperry, Inner Guard