How to support a loved one with depression in Colorado
Imagine you’re crossing the street, and a car races through a red light. You’re directly in its path — and you do nothing. You don’t run. You don’t leap out of its way. You just stand there.
You’re not frozen with fear. You stand still because you no longer want to live.
This is how Kaiser Permanente employee and member Brandon Plasky felt when a car sped toward him one night in 2016. Even though he didn’t deliberately put himself in the path of the vehicle, he made no move to save himself.
Thankfully, the car swerved at the last second.
Years later, Brandon explains that he hated himself “because I wanted to die, but I was too scared to try [to] release myself from this life.”
At the time, Brandon constantly felt miserable and empty. He was struggling with bouts of uncontrollable rage, alcohol abuse, and extreme mood swings. As a customer service representative at the Kaiser Permanente call center, he lashed out at coworkers and even members — and was formally disciplined twice.
Symptoms of depression
Brandon exhibited many signs of depression, which include but are not limited to:
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or irritability that don’t go away
- Changes in appetite and/or weight
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Persistent fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering
- Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy
- Having thoughts of death or suicide
A life-changing conversation
After Brandon’s suicide attempt, his fiancé and younger brother told him they were concerned about him. They’d noticed that something was very wrong, and had been for months. Brandon denied everything at first, but eventually agreed to seek treatment.
“Brandon’s pathway to help is common among those with depression or other mental health conditions,” says Evelyn Lifsey, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist with the Kaiser Permanente Colorado Highline Crisis Team.
“Usually, 1 of 2 things happens. The person recognizes that they’re not enjoying friends, family, and activities they used to, or others tell them that they are not acting like themselves.”
Dr. Lifsey stresses that help is readily available for people struggling with mental illness, and that Kaiser Permanente tries to make access as easy as possible. In fact, referrals aren’t needed for mental health and wellness care.
It can be scary to reach out at first. Those who need help can talk to any provider they feel comfortable with, regardless of their department or specialty.
Now, Brandon encourages others to take advantage of the mental health and wellness services offered by Kaiser Permanente.
“If you think something may be amiss,” says Brandon, “Please seek help. If you’re worried no one cares, you’re wrong.”
Mental health resources in your area
No matter where you live in Colorado, there’s a team ready to help you manage depression and other mental health conditions. For the location nearest you, call the number below.
- Denver/Boulder: Call the Behavioral Health Access Center at 303-471-7700, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Mountain Colorado: Call Beacon Health Options at 1-866-702-9026 (TTY 1-866-835-2755), anytime day or night.
- Northern Colorado: Call the Behavioral Health Access Center at 1-866-359-8299 (TTY 711), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Southern Colorado: Call Beacon Health Options at 1-866-702-9026 (TTY 1-866-835-2755), anytime day or night.
If you think you have a medical or psychiatric emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.
You can also visit findyourwords.org. This website is designed specifically to offer support to those living with depression, as well as loved ones who wish to help.
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