Apparently, May is National Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention Month.*
Clearly, this was decided by people who have no firsthand experience with mental health issues**, because otherwise it would be observed in January — a cold, sunless, unceasing slog of a month to which suicide may well be the only rational response.
On the other hand, why not May? It’s not as if crazy is limited to a particular time of year. Mine certainly isn’t.
Anyway, there are all sorts of resources out there on how to help and comfort the mentally ill. Some are worth examining, most are not. And I should know, because well-meaning individuals have subjected me to many of them and, by god, there is no more effective way to piss me off than to send me links to SEO cluttersites that tell me things I already know — especially those that a.) believe purple on turquoise is a great color scheme and b.) include inspirational quotes.
With that in mind, my only recommendation is that you listen to [starting at about 31:14 onward***] this interview with Rachel Maddow on NPR’s Fresh Air, which (imo) pretty much nails it: mental illness [in this case, depression] is real, there’s no cure, you just deal with it the best you can. And…that’s it.
Also, if you can manage it — and this might be the single most useful piece of advice ever, at least as far as I’m concerned — learn to recognize the signs of an episode and schedule your life accordingly. Planning, people. It helps.
[UPDATE: Also, this.]