Depression is a cruel thing. It lingers in the background waiting to rear its ugly head at any moment.
I should know. I take medication for depression every day.
I’m not afraid or ashamed to admit it. I’m acting to take care of myself, and if I can encourage others to do the same, then I feel like I’ve contributed something good, at least for one day.
I don’t need to remind farmers that this is a tough time. The agricultural economy is in the dumps and farmers are suffering, especially dairy farmers. At times it’s almost too much to bear.
One story that still sticks with me almost a year later is that of Fred Morgan, a 50-year-old farmer from central New York. The New York Times reported Morgan’s story on March 19, 2018. Morgan, whose dairy farm was facing foreclosure, had plans to commit suicide so his family could cash in on his $150,000 life insurance policy.
“I’d sacrifice my life so my family could keep the farm,” he said in the article. Thank goodness his wife convinced him to not do it.
After Morgan got some help, the family declared bankruptcy, restructured their finances and switched to organic dairy production, according to the article.
At the end of the day, we’re all human beings. We all have needs and wants, and for the most part we all want some sort of happiness in our lives.
If you farm and you’re feeling down about your business and your life, always know that there are people who support you and want nothing but the best for you.
If you feel like you need a break and want to talk to someone about your struggles, pick up the phone and talk to somebody. Take a break from the chores and tell your spouse that you aren’t feeling good. Put your arms around your children and tell them how much they mean to you.
I know that when I’m having a bad day or when I’m exhausted, nothing makes me happier than seeing the smile on my kids’ faces.
I know, farmers have a lot of pride and many don’t want to admit they have problems. But it doesn’t matter with depression. Once it rears its ugly head, it’s like being in a dark hole without having a way to climb back out.
But there is some good news: You don’t have to deal with this alone. And help is available if you need it.
So, where can you start to get help? First, go to your loved ones. Your parents, spouse or even your children can help you in more ways than you can imagine.
If that doesn’t help, call a friend. Even if you just have one friend, at least you have someone you can call on the phone or meet up for a cup of coffee or a beer.
There are also professional resources available to you if you need it. The National Suicide Hotline is available every day at 1-800-273-8255. You can also call 911 in an emergency.
Farm Aid’s Farmer Resource Network has resources, too, at farmaid.org or 1-800-327-6243.
On the Eastern Shore, Jessie’s Paddle — The Jessie Klump Suicide Awareness & Prevention Program — has many resources for people who need help. There is also a website, saveashorefarmer.org, that has lots of farmer-specific information.
In New York state, NY FarmNet provides free, on-farm consulting services for people who need help. These services are confidential. For more information, go to help.nyfarmnet.org/contacts/new or call 1-800-547-3276.
These are just a few resources; I’m sure many others exist that I’m not aware of.
Just remember that help is out there if you need it. No one deserves to suffer alone.