Friday, August 5, 2016

"You Keep Using That Word"

Watch this:

Then read this: 

Depression is not something anyone is proud to have. No one goes around boasting "I am depressed." Yet most other health conditions are worn like a badge of courage. "You have cancer, that's horrible, how can I help you?" "You were just diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, that's awful, are you on a special diet, medications? Did they give you insulin yet?" "You had a heart attack? Are you going to be okay? What did it feel like? Could you have another one, should you rest?" 

Over and over, sympathy, consideration, helpful advice, stories of other survivors and often time’s actual assistance in daily life are all given when someone is diagnosed or suffering one of life's terrible diseases. I don't mean to sound condescending to those who have had cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, kidney disease or any other catastrophic health condition that weighs a person down. However, there is a definite helping hand or two or three or more when one of those scrounges come rearing it's ugly head. 

Depression though does not make that list, ever. Is it because many of those who are depressed suffer in silence for fear of ridicule or half-baked advice like "Just get over it" or "Be happy for what you have instead of looking at what you don't." Have you ever used the word depression thinking you understood it? Has a family member or friend ever come calling and discussed how depressed they were and while you nodded your head and tried to listen to them all you really wanted to do was tell them how to get ahead in life, how to keep pushing through, how to look at the good things in their life? Did you believe you'd truly helped them with listening and offering those kernels of wisdom?
I'm sorry to say this but you didn't do a damn thing for them except maybe make them feel even worse. True depression is disabling. It confuses the mind; it warps every moment and event. It eats away at the soul and the darkness is like a twenty-four hour fog. You may think you understand but unless you've walked this path you simply cannot. Unless you've struggled to get out of bed every day and take a shower or put on clothes, you cannot possibly know the pain of depression. Until you've lain on a couch all day, crying your eyes out or contemplating what purpose you serve, you cannot grasp the meaning of "depression." Depression is a blanket that envelops every part of your being and doesn't let go. It wraps you tighter and tighter until you can barely breathe. 

Depression exists for a multitude of reasons. Some believe it's chemical, a misfiring firing of neurons in the brain, others think it's some kind of missing letter in one's DNA, still other theories are it's brought on by severe tragedy or illness, chronic health conditions or and still some think it's just something made up because a person can't "cope" with the real world. You can find a billion articles on the scientific and clinical causes and reasoning behind depression, that isn't my point here. 
My thoughts here are to actually describe the mental and physical toll depression takes on one person's soul. Depression doesn't always lead to suicide either, a person can live in the haze of depression for decades and not contemplate or attempt suicide but rather just continue to exist in a half-life state. A depressed person cannot really enjoy life because so much of their insides are hollow or empty, they may laugh at jokes and find slight enjoyment in things, like eating...but sometimes that enjoyment leads to graver health consequences, thus leading to deeper depression. 

Even now, trying to describe living with depression, I am not doing the disease justice; I am not fully communicating the torture inside a depressed person's mind or the anguish of trying to escape it. Treating depression comes in many forms, medication, psychotherapy, self-analysis, yoga, exercise, drawing, writing, vitamins, essential oils, and so many other ways I cannot list them all. It's usually a lifelong battle and often a lonely one. Depressed people have trouble maintaining relationships because they cannot fully give of themselves no matter how much they want too. They find it difficult to engage in small talk or concentrate on conversations, events or get together's because inside they feel so damn awful. 

Unfortunately, sometimes, no amount of therapy or medication or combination of the two and/or other treatments just do not fully get rid of the depression. A depressed person may be able to function in life, go to work, have a family, pay bills, go to school, achieve a career or other accomplishments but it may take an amount of effort that you cannot fathom. You will never understand the struggle to get to that job every day or finish that paper for school or even go grocery shopping. You cannot fully grasp how hard getting into that shower was today or walking to the doctor's office from the parking garage. And to talk about it is wrong. 

Depression is wrong. Everyone tells us that. The lack of support, home cooked meals, help cleaning the house; the constant catcalls of "Just get over it" or "Find happiness in one thing you do today" prove just how much depression is wrong. The well-meaning "non-depressed" people who constantly say "Well aren't you taking medicine" or "Don't you have a therapist" will never, ever grapple with the everyday knowledge that no matter what they do, true happiness will forever elude them. 

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