Sans Soleil

by jennine on July 3, 2008

Sunday in Manhattan, 20 year-old supermodel, Ruslana Korshunova stepped off her 9th story apartment balcony, plunging to her death. Police ruled her death suicide, and as with all suicides, we among the living ponder the suffering as we morn the loss.

Ruslana’s friends and family remember her being happy, yet messages found on her computer reflect a different side of the story. One of homesickness and confusion about love, like most 20 year olds away from home, only most 20 year olds aren’t supermodels in a foreign country.

We can only speculate why she did it.


Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide.
There are many causes of depression, and there are many types of depression. Sometimes it’s hard to identify.

I know. I have lived with chronic, long-term depression since my early teens, maybe even my entire life. Ruslana’s death is brings up a lot of feelings because of my own experiences with hopelessness and despair, while on the outside seemingly productive and happy.

Hearing stories about people who have and an epiphany or they just ’snapped out of it’ always left me feeling more hopeless, and more damaged, because I could never pull it together

While I’m not a therapist, or a doctor, or a mental health expert, I can share with you my own experience with depression. I wish I could say that it was quick and easy, but it wasn’t the case for me. Hearing stories about people who have and an epiphany or they just ’snapped out of it’ always left me feeling more hopeless, and more damaged, because I could never pull it together like other people seemed to. The truth is, no one person has found the way to enduring enlightenment. And work? Well, everyone has to work at it. Even Mother Teresa struggled.

Asking for help
There is help, but I had to ask for it. I also had to be willing to accept help when it came… which wasn’t always easy.

Hanging on
One of the hardest things about being depressed, is the hopelessness, the seemingly unending darkness. Many times I felt as though I were ‘hanging in there’ for ages and the prospect of continuing was unbearably discouraging. But truth be told, it took a long time to identify the depression and what to do about it. For many years, I just chalked myself off as being somehow defective, like I didn’t receive the ‘Life Instruction Pamphlet’ everyone else got, and extraordinarily sensitive. For some reason I knew I needed to keep trying, and desperation played a big role in being willing to try different ways of easing the suffering, but in the end, I’m glad it took time. I’ve learned a lot of things about myself, and how to find out what works for me. And most of all, the time it took really helped me to really value my progress and to take the depression seriously.

Listen, listen, listen
When I asked for help, I got all kinds of opinions, listening to myself is so important. Unfortunately there are people who profit out of desperation, either by power or money, I’ve seen it firsthand, it’s hard to identify, but I really had to listen to my inner self. There are also people who don’t have the knowledge or resources to truly be effective, one doctor (a GP) talked to me for 10 minutes and prescribed Prozac. One therapist dismissed a rather serious and blatant problem I was not comfortable with having. My gut said those people were wrong for me.

After hitting a rather serious and frightening bottom, I knew it was time to get help and really be diligent about the depression. I realized I couldn’t just work things out on my own, and I had to trust that maybe someone else could help. From opening up and talking with some wise, and trusted friends, I was able to find a good therapist, through my health insurance. Working with a therapist is incredibly helpful, we tried lots of things, and in time, we decided to try medication. I found a psychiatrist, and we worked out a medication plan, with regular check ups. Along with the therapy, my life really changed. But I have to work on it, daily.

Little Tips

Healthy Living. While these may not work for everyone, there are a few things that really helped get out of the depression. Though I take medication, there is a holistic approach with both a healthy diet and regular exercise. There is indeed something in healthy living.

Gratitude. Acknowledging all the beautiful things in my life. It’s strange how once I started, the list kept growing. Writing them down also helps.

Thinking positive. Amazingly, my idea of a positive thought resembled ‘constructive criticism’ more than a positive affirmation. I know I said ‘not just one book’, but Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life really helped me learn how to think positively. She also has these great Power Thought Cards, that I’ve been using for years.

Life is an evolution, it’s a journey… and sticking around, I’ve got to see some pretty amazing stuff happen. I got to meet some wonderful people because I didn’t have all the answers.

Volunteering. Nothing builds self esteem like doing esteemable acts. There are all kinds of volunteer work needed. Though sometimes I’d wonder why I had these commitments, after I’ve done the work, I always felt better.

Hope
I know this post may not be the most encouraging if you’re actually suffering from depression. There may be a quick fix, but that wasn’t my experience in getting better. It didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen after reading just one book, or doing just one thing and saying it did would be unfair to all the people who have helped me over the years, it would be unfair to you, and it would be unfair to myself. In retrospect, I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world, because life is like that. Life is an evolution, it’s a journey… and sticking around, I’ve got to see some pretty amazing stuff happen. I got to meet some wonderful people because I didn’t have all the answers.

Resources:

Many health insurance plans cover therapy, call your insurance provider for details.

If you don’t have insurance, or if your insurance doesn’t cover this, try contacting a free clinic in your area see what options you have, you might be surprised!

There are several types of therapy…

Questions to ask a potential therapist

You can also take a free, confidential depression screening, or call 1-877-769-5501 for a telephone screening.

{ 11 comments }

super kawaii mama July 3, 2008 at 5:54 am

A beautiful and well considered post for a very tragic topic. Thank you for sharing.

WendyB July 3, 2008 at 6:03 am

Very good post. ((hug))

jennine July 3, 2008 at 7:54 am

thanks loves… it was hard to share, but it’s probably helped me more than anyone…

Nicole July 3, 2008 at 8:34 am

Thank you for sharing this. I think it’s good to keep an open dialogue about these things so it doesn’t feel so taboo and lead a person to feel even more like an outsider/defective/other. I have to agree with a lot of what you said. While everything is personal, finding the right balance of medicine, sleep, diet, and exercise, you can begin to feel vibrant again.

Jeanne July 3, 2008 at 8:50 am

Thank you so much for this.

Beka July 3, 2008 at 9:05 am

Thanks for posting this. I saw her story on the news the other day, and I was just shocked. I always think that girls who are so beautiful and successful must live fulfilling lives. Then, something like this happens, and it makes you look at life in a different light, makes you feel thankful for the way your life is, even if it’s tiny and seemingly insignificant. At least, that’s how I see it.

SwanDiamondRose July 3, 2008 at 3:55 pm

thank you for sharing jennine. it’s strange it is so taboo this depression topic. i’ve been through this too. and it’s so strange how people think “beautiful” people have an easier go at things than others. it makes it worse all around.

Kezia July 3, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Nice, thoughtful post, Jennine. I actually don’t think it’s strange that some think beautiful people are happier and/or have easier lives. We’re conditioned to think that pretty early. No one is immune to suffering, and clinical depression is a disease, not a choice. Also, women are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression than men.

SwanDiamondRose July 3, 2008 at 6:25 pm

i realize it’s societal conditioning all tied to perpetuation of the species through reverence to strength with which beauty is paired. i still find it strange. and really sad.

jennine July 4, 2008 at 11:05 am

thanks for all your supportive comments… i know it’s a touchy topic, and everyone deals with it differently. but it’s really important to talk about it because i know when it just didn’t stop after i got out of my teens, or after i got a decent job, or after i got the right boyfriend, or fit into a size 2 jeans…. you know the list it goes on. it really helped me to hear that i wasn’t the only one out there.

Amy July 8, 2008 at 8:51 pm

How true…it’s nice that you shared this post with others. So very sad.

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