Enter Depression, Exit…

Count me as one of those who has to turn off the radio or television when news and commentary and sorrow about Robin Williams’ suicide begins.  Way too close an encounter for me, like the shadow of a shark to a snorkling diver.  I use the time to review the rules: don’t swim in certain waters, only go in with friends, and only when I’m rested, feeling buoyant.  When a shadow appears, talk to myself: talk to others.  Swim away as away from a rip-tide, across the current not straight back in. Panic doesn’t help; irony sometimes does — there you are again, swimming from shadows! Solid land is back there somewhere; I know, I’m mostly on it.  There are more.  Here’s a good article in the Guardian’s Science section.

Depression, the clinical condition, could really use a different name. At present, the word “depressed” can be applied to both people who are a bit miserable and those with a genuine debilitating mood disorder. Ergo, it seems people are often very quick to dismiss depression as a minor, trivial concern. After all, everyone gets depressed now and again, don’t they? Don’t know why these people are complaining so much.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; dismissing the concerns of a genuine depression sufferer on the grounds that you’ve been miserable and got over it is like dismissing the issues faced by someone who’s had to have their arm amputated because you once had a paper cut and it didn’t bother you. Depression is a genuine debilitating condition, and being in “a bit of a funk” isn’t. The fact that mental illness doesn’t receive the same sympathy/acknowledgement as physical illness is often referenced, and it’s a valid point. If you haven’t had it, you don’t have the right to dismiss those who have/do. You may disagree, and that’s your prerogative, but there are decades’ worth of evidence saying you’re wrong.

Guardian: Burnett

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