Mental health jumped front and center last week when Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott revealed he had become seriously depressed last year after his older brother committed suicide.
You might think it took center stage because people offered him sympathy and help, but no, that wasn’t it.
It started trending, as it’s called nowadays, because a dingbat sports “reporter” said Prescott was basically the CEO of the Cowboys and he shouldn’t show such “weakness” while in that position.
The reporter was Skip Bayless, who has made a career out of saying awful things about people who have achieved much more in life than he has. For many years he plied his trade across from motormouth Stephen A. Smith on ESPN, but now he appears daily on a Fox Sports show that is watched by literally almost nobody.
If nobody watches the show, why should anybody care what he said? Well, I’m sure somebody in your own life, somewhere along the line, has said something horrible. You might have even been the only one to hear it. But it was so horrible you had to say something.
Most people, when they hear about mental health problems, think of somebody literally flipping out, like in an old cartoon when Bugs Bunny or somebody would start bouncing around on their heads and making weird noises.
Or they think of people sitting on city streets, talking to themselves, all their worldly belongings crammed into a shopping buggy.
But mental health encompasses a lot more than old cliches. The number one mental health problem is depression and most people who suffer from it keep it well hidden for fear people will think less of them, abandon them or the worst thing, be told to snap out of it. You don’t have it that bad.
Depression has nothing to do with how well off or how bad you have it. It’s a feeling of hopelessness, of not enjoying anything anymore, of wondering why you’re still going on. It’s a feeling of thinking the world doesn’t need you anymore, that you serve no purpose.
Maybe, like me, you don’t have a brother, but you undoubtedly have people close to you and if one of them committed suicide, I’m sure you’d be almost inconsolable. Nobody would question how you were feeling. In fact, they’d probably be surprised if you seemed unbothered by it.
I know, you’re not the quarterback of a $2 billion franchise, but it doesn’t matter. If a family member that’s always been there, that you love and cherish, suddenly dies in a way that didn’t have to happen, if somebody had just been paying attention, you should not just shrug it off and move on.
Anxiety is the other great modern mental illness that people who don’t have it seem to not understand. I suffer from it myself, but it’s under control. I had it bad as a teenager, but had no idea what it was. I was told to stop “acting” and go to school, even though I felt like I was going to die whenever I was in a brick building of education.
It went away for a long time and I lived a normal life, but it came back, said remember me, and I’ve been living with it for eight years now, which seems impossible, but even though most times I never think it about it (thanks to modern medicine) it still smacks me out of nowhere at times.
It’s always good when mental health jumps to the forefront of people’s minds, though what usually gets it there isn’t a good thing. I’m sorry Prescott’s brother killed himself and now Prescott is expected to step on the national stage and play like nothing bad has really happened in his personal life.
But that’s what we all do. Everybody has times they don’t want to leave the house, but we step outside and when nothing gets us … But sometimes something does get us, even if we’re the only ones who can see it.
But we keep going. There’s only one other option, and if it comes to that, really, please, talk to someone.