Depression and anxiety can occur in the life of a coworker or loved one and often goes undiagnosed in many cases. For some, it is a struggle just to get out of bed and head into work every day. For others it is a lonely place where you suffer in silence and tend to avoid contact with others in a social or work setting.

For the family of beloved coach and teacher Kent Massie, the struggles were real and known, but family and friends had no control over how he would ultimately decide to deal with them. We are doing this story after reaching out to his sister Kaye who told us “I want to help somebody” who is dealing with depression and anxiety.

In 2014 we interviewed Greta H. Mayer, MA PC who is a member of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Clark County regarding the topic of depression. At that time we learned that one of the goals of the Clark County Suicide Prevention Coalition was to increase awareness in the community about the impact of depression on individuals and their loved ones. We spoke to her for our update on this timely topic.

In the article we spotlighted the fact that doctors know that depression is a brain-based disorder that if left untreated can be a risk factor for suicide and the use of street drugs. For too long depression and anxiety have been taboo subjects in many communities, however after over 20 years of research, it has been proven that depression actually affects the brain by causing internal changes to the physical structure of the brain and causing a “physical illness or faulty wiring” of the brain.

For Kent and his family, the struggle was real and his family was aware. “He was a person like anybody else” said Kaye. She and her brothers grew up in Springfield Township and attended Shawnee High School where the boys played football. Kent loved the game so much; he went on to become a local coach and educator in the Tecumseh Local School District. He served as a role model for many students as they passed through the program and for that the community continues to respect his efforts and his contributions. Many young men learned to be a part of a team from Coach Massie and he was there to support them in becoming young leaders in their community and moving into a college life and the workforce.

The Massie family lost their mom back in 1980 leaving their dad with two teens and an eleven year old. He grew close to his children Kent, Kaye and brother Randy. Kaye who is a social worker in a nearby county spoke about the connection the kids had to their father over the years and in his final days. She also spoke about how difficult it can be to balance family life, job and medical conditions too. The one thing she continued to emphasize in her conversation with us was how hard Kent tried to overcome the depression and anxiety he felt.

For many who suffer from depression and anxiety, it is difficult to put into words. It can range from a physical feeling that produces changes to your body to emotional experiences such as agitation, feeling like a burden or feeling powerless to overcome the day to day experiences in the workplace or at home. Some patients experience guilt and self blame and have difficulty making decisions.

Kaye describes it as “all about choices” and for some people it is very difficult to make good or bad choices while trying to work with the disease. Anxiety can be part of depression and result in a need for perfectionism, as well as anger, hopelessness and sleep issues. You can have a feeling of being irritated one minute and depressed and in a state of despair the next. Many who suffer from depression and anxiety seek medical care, but when the drugs prescribed by a doctor may help, at times they are not enough leading to self medication. Others simply give up and seeing no reason to go on, end their lives.

For the loved ones and coworkers, the loss of a person for any reason can be a long road to understanding why this occurred. If you know someone who you believe is depressed, you can help them by seeking support from professionals. It is acceptable to speak openly and listen to what they are saying to you. This is not a matter of judging someone, but a time to be a support to their feelings which are real. Sometimes you need to be persistent in helping them find support from local agencies that have the ability to offer the counseling and support services a depressed and anxious person needs.

For those who are struggling with depression and anxiety, Mayer suggests that “talk therapy is very effective” in helping individuals. There is a list of public and private therapists available to anyone who calls the Mental Health and Recovery Board at 322-0648. She also noted that a friend or family member may need to help an individual by going to the first or a series of appointments.

Mental Health Services for Clark and Madison Counties, Inc is located in Springfield and can provide help to those who need services. They can be reached at 399-9500 to provide information on appointments and services available. Meyer noted that between 1 and 5 people in America are dealing with depression and anxiety at any time in their lives.

For individuals who may prefer to text someone on an anonymous basis, you can now reach out by texting 4HOPE to 741 741 to connect with a crisis line. Anyone can use this resource even if you are just having a bad day and need to get anything that may be troubling you out there without the concern for judgment or feeling like your work or friends are going to know.

What happened to our friend Kent is something that we can learn from. Some in our community have asked why the family member has elected to go public with the information on his death and they want to keep his good memories alive for the students. That is admirable, however in the case of one family member; she wants this to be an opportunity to open a dialog where we as a community acknowledge the facts about depression and anxiety so that others can be helped.

Understanding is the first step to action. No one is judging anyone; they are taking that painful first step in making the community aware of the silent suffering. Many people we see every day and never realize just how much pain they are in or how badly they need to be allowed to say “I am depressed and I don’t think I can do this anymore alone”.

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