Ty Bechel Local Columnist
Column: Avoiding self-care can be just as damaging to loved ones
This column may be my most intimate to date. We can recover from toxic relationships, surviving cancer, losing a loved one, or mental health conditions. Not only did I escape the hellish and fiery grip with which drug and alcohol addiction attempted to destroy me, but depression also had me wrapped tightly in its web of confusion. Misery will tangle our priorities in a messy knot, leading us toward self-destruction from which some of us may never return.
Depression is something millions of us have experienced. It can lead to anger, dark and silent bedrooms with only the osculating fan to comfort us, and for some suicide. For us to hurt so badly we want to harm ourselves is all too common in our society. According to the Madison County Coroners annual reports from 2000 to 2019, there have been 360 suicides. Suicide, believe it, or not, outpaces homicide.
Self-harm goes beyond suicide, too. Avoiding self-care can be just as damaging to ourselves and our loved ones. Eating carelessly, injecting or snorting drugs, drinking alcohol until our livers can no longer function properly, jumping from one relationship to the next or recklessly scanning our credit card to buy things that bring us synthetic joy for mere seconds can be signs of an unsteady attempt to fill a hole we have been trying to fill for years.
When my depression flares up and theres a faint whisper in my ear that says I am not important or I should give up, I know this is not true, no matter how many bellows I utter and tears I cry. I have many ways to move through this uncomfortable moment in time. I love to write, pray, meditate, call a close friend, exercise or listen to a song that has a meaningful attachment to the deepest part of my soul. Here is an excerpt from a piece I wrote when I had a bad spell a few months ago that is quite descriptive and may be hard from some to read:
Then out of a moment that some may call an act of God, the two-by-four snapped and I fell six feet, crashing on the hardwood floor and shaking the entire house.
As I regained consciousness, it was like going through a dark tunnel and getting closer to the light. I gasped for air, like one would coming up from being underwater for too long. My bronchial tubes filled with oxygen and my brain was in overdrive.
I picked myself up from the ground and steadied the chair; I slowly gripped its back and stepped on it to inspect the wood plank that snapped from the ceiling. When I grabbed the plank something fell on my face. I quickly jumped down to the ground and frantically swiped over and over. Even in my near-death experience, my fear for spiders biting me was still prevalent. Oh, the irony.
I looked more closely and it was insects falling. I grabbed the winged savior and inspected it. A termite. Termites saved me from myself.
With the current state of our nation, it may be even more important to call someone we know who struggles. Forced isolation and dramatic life changes can affect all of us differently.
Many of us need a moment of assurance from those we care about. Have you ever talked to yourself in your mind and internally begged a person would hug you or tell you that you matter? In our individualistic society, we put too much emphasis on toughen up without considering that life truly is about connection. Though this is not the panacea for depression, if you or someone you know is struggling, please promise me to never be afraid to ask for help or lend an ear.
In the wise words of the late Bill Withers, Lean on me, when youre not strong, and Ill be your friend. Ill help you carry on. For it wont be long til Im gonna need somebody to lean on.
This year has been tough. Until next time, may you reach out when you are troubled or be the ear when someone needs to be heard.
Ty Bechel is the executive director at Amare, a nonprofit 501(C)(3), that is a non-clinical, peer-led recovery community organization that offers recovery support services, education, awareness, guidance and hope to Madison County.
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Column: Avoiding self-care can be just as damaging to loved ones - Alton Telegraph
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