Credit: George Danby

For those who need help: call the Maine Suicide Prevention Program’s toll-free crisis hotline at 1-888-568-1112 or nationwide at 1-800-273-TALK or text TALK to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

I just completed reading Adrienne Bennett’s column “We need leaders who address mental health,” which was published in the weekend Bangor Daily News. Well done Adrienne!

I am 73 now. I am one of the 18 million Americans who suffer from a major, serious depressive episode each year.

I have at least four a year. Not all are major episodes, however even the “minor” ones are no fun.

Yes, I have considered the option of not wanting to wake up in the morning. These episodes can last for as long as two weeks. I cannot express the mental pain. None of “us” can, which is part of the problem.

It is suggested that when one feels this way, they should talk to someone, perhaps a close friend or family member. If that person has never experienced the numbing experience of severe depression, they will never really get it. They do not know what to do sometimes even if they do get it.

My solution has been to be open and honest with my closest family and trusted friends. If they don’t know what I need, they can’t help. I tell them I am entering a “storm.” They all know what that means. They know what to do and what not to do because I have educated them.

I do live alone, so one of my close friends who knows me better than anyone will come to my house and just be there. I do not want to talk. They already know I’m hurting. Having someone there will keep me from doing something stupid like getting in my car, drinking or doing something else that might be destructive and heartbreaking for some.

Generally, from what I have read, people who commit suicide make sure they are alone. I think that is key. Not everyone has the close family and friends that I do and that saddens me. If you do have them, take the time to educate them on how to help you through it. Otherwise, they will not have a clue and might do more damage than good.

Once my storm is over, I look back and think “what was that all about?” I do not remember much, but I do realize how grateful I am to come out on the other side still breathing and enjoying life most of the time.

There is much more I would like to share in terms of what I have accomplished in spite of this illness. I guess that is a story for another day.

David Winslow of Brewer served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force and runs a computer repair business.