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Joanne Krok Mackiewicz: Thanks Zach Steele and family for their story

To the editor:

I don’t know Zach Steele, but his story is all too familiar to me. The story in the Gazette last Thursday about Zach’s depression and attempted suicide by jumping of the E.J. Gare Parking Garage in Northampton spurred me to comment about the overwhelming difficulties that surround this hideous disease and the tremendous difficulties the individual and families are faced with in its treatment. Zach said that he had no reason to be depressed.

What many people don’t know is that depression does not need a particular reason, and, absolutely anyone can be affected by it. Seventeen years ago last month, my sister committed suicide. She was fairly smart, had a good job, owned a house, loved her family, was very pretty and was a good person albeit with flaws. She had always been a happy person and had many friends. She was “full of life.” She was the optimist; I was the pessimist. “Just exercise more and you’ll feel better,” she would say.

She didn’t have the energy to even think about exercise when the “demon” overtook her. A hospital stay, doctors, medicine, therapists, family, friends — none could help. She didn’t give herself the time — time to heal — for you see time is your enemy when you are in the dark depths of depression.

We’ve all experienced how time slows down when we aren’t having a good time, and the worse the time you’re having the slower time moves. Recovering from depression can take as long as recovering from a very serious accident. My sister really wasn’t depressed for very long. She was hospitalized on a Sunday in April, which just happened to be on Easter that year, and took her life on June 17. She did leave a note. She blamed no one. She couldn’t function in the capacity that she had had before depression. She couldn’t see herself ever coming back to being herself regardless of the support of doctors, family and friends. Again, she didn’t give herself the “time” it takes to heal and it takes a lot of it.

I want to thank Zach and his family for his story. I hope it helps. I would like to urge people to support his music fundraiser at Look Park this coming Saturday.

Joanne Krok Mackiewicz


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