Real Talk - The Rise Of Depression & Suicide In Midlife Women
I’m going to start with this right here…
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Hello My Hopefuls! This week it was important for me to talk about a topic that has been showing up everywhere recently because of some high-profile victims – Suicide. Specifically, for this post – Suicide Among Mid-Life Women.
This is not my ‘normal’ wheelhouse subject matter, but it has been weighing on my heart, so I wanted to share my thoughts. “Normal” is the pivotal+ word here because that is probably where many of the problems arise. If we could eliminate the need to try and achieve such a mystical obscurity, half of the battle could be won.
I was very surprised to learn that suicide among women in midlife has risen steadily every year and is considered one of the top ten leading cause of death in this age range. We devour article after blog after YouTube video on how to look young, eat healthy and exercise, yet it appears we are ignoring another major key in our overall survival – mental health.
It’s not a glamorous topic. It’s scary, embarrassing and everyone hates to admit to not having it all together. As women especially, we have fought so hard to be seen as strong and capable and equal that we don’t want to even hint at a problem. We struggle to balance successful careers, relationships and family. As we approach midlife, physical and hormonal changes also begin to play a role in our overall outlook on life.
Another surprising fact I discovered was that anxiety and depression prescriptions have tripled over the last decade while seeking professional therapy and counseling has actually declined. This is an alarming trend of self-medicating that appears to be back-firing. I would like to suggest we try to reverse this trend, or at least learn to practice Skills vs Pills.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting it is easy, nor do I believe it is just a matter of pulling up your big girl panties and marching forward. I understand there are real problems, significant issues and legitimate obstacles to face. I also admit I am no professional and these are just my thoughts and opinions that flow from a loving part of my heart that truly wants you, My Hopefuls, to live your best lives NOW and be full of joy, peace and of course… to Hope With Abandon. So how does one start to fight this battle?
What are the risk factors in our midlife journey that whisper to us the possibility of checking out and leaving everything we know and love? A family history of mental illness is certainly one, but oftentimes depression can strike all at once. And depression is a very real disease. Much like a virus or cancer invades our body, depression infects our minds. It lowers our emotional defenses, makes us feel vulnerable and weak and can paralyze our thought processes. We don’t trust ourselves to make good decisions and lack emotional and even physical energy to fully participate in life. Another risk factor is a sudden loss or change. Maybe you have gone through a devastating divorce and feel unlovable or undesirable. Or maybe your partner passed away. The overwhelming sense of being alone and facing the future by yourself can be terrifying. Being diagnosed with an illness can leave us with more questions than answers and we wonder if we have the strength to fight. Having children leave the home and discovering an empty nest can sometimes bring on a sense that no one needs you anymore and what’s the use. Please, please, please, do NOT fall into any of these traps baited with LIES.
While it is true that very painful things happen in our lives, it is also true that beauty happens too. We can heal from a broken heart. We can move past tragedy. We can learn to manage disease. There will always be someone in your life that needs you, values you, depends on your warmth, smile and love. Do not let temporary moments of agony or misery define the rest of your life….or tempt you to end it.
Another point I want to make is how important our friendships are and how much we need each other. Social media can be used for great things, but it can also isolate us. We (myself included) scroll through post after post and think everyone else is having a better life; with more fun, greater adventures and we become secretly jealous or feel excluded or forgotten. As women, especially, we become competitive and suspicious at times of each other when, in reality, we NEED each other. We all, yes all, go through times of loneliness, self-doubt and insecurity. We need to reach out, connect, support and uplift. In a Get-Real-For-A-Minute I’ll use myself as an example. Most of you know I wrote a book, I obviously write a blog and I try to post a motivational quote every day. I’ve done some phone interviews and a podcast. Was it fun? Yes. Did it change my life? No. I still get up every day, work, take care of my family and my business. I still have goals and a dream, but I still struggle with all of the same things everyone else does. Never let anyone fool you. We ALL have moments of pain and hurt and we ALL need support.
So, now that we have identified some very real causes for legitimate issues, how do we not let them get the best of us? Well, of course, you should always seek professional help if you are having thoughts of hopelessness or wanting to end your life. We should also make helpful daily changes. Eat a better/more balanced diet. Take care of our bodies, so we feel the best possible. Develop a support system. It can be family, friends, a good local church. Find a hobby. Pursue a dream. Get outside! Sunshine can be a terrific mood enhancer. Volunteer. Get outside of yourself and give back to others. Involve yourself in LIFE. Touch. See. Hear. Do.
And if you see anyone in your world displaying any of these signs, please do not hesitate or ‘mind your own business’. Reach Out. Love. Support. Pour into their lives. There is no ‘normal’. There is only LOVE. Love and embrace the people around you. And let them embrace you back! Life is hectic, painful, confusing and BEAUTIFUL. And we only get ONE! Please do whatever it takes to enjoy yours!!
And always, always, always…
Hope With Abandon