Depression: Disability, or Goof-Off?


Depression is probably the most misunderstood mental health issue in the world. The [London] Guardian reports today that it is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. And that cases have grown by 20% in a decade.

I have written recently about tiny houses being considered by some to be a ‘cure’ for homelessness. Where the fou-fou’s, dancing with delight and clapping their hands at such a wonderful and charming solution, have little understanding of the many ‘homeless’ who are actually folks with depression, who have been turfed out on the streets by mental health policies said fou-fou’s either endorsed or stood by and countenanced because, oh dear, it’s such a shame people are sad, but, what can you do … ??

Huh. I seem to write long sentences when I get emotional.

I also wrote about disability being rampant in areas of rural disadvantage in the US. Trying to make a case that it is not poor white trash scrounging. It is the culmination of policy approach by said fou-fou’s, many of them Democrats, who should know better.

In these, and other instances where one sees a lack of personal, social or political cohesion, a major aspect to finding a sensible, coherent and sensitive way forward (hopefully in tandem with those being prescribed for) is the need fully to understand depression.

And people. If you don’t know what depression is. And you genuinely want to help with social and political disadvantage, please actually take the time to find out what it is.

It is not being sad. It is a crippling disease and disability. It is not a choice. It is an affliction. It finds many forms. It has many causes. Whatever else, please approach with sensitivity and concern. Not judgment, shame or embarrassment. We need none of that.

And I say ‘we.’

I was diagnosed in 1994, when I entered alcohol rehab, as hyperactive bi-polar manic depressive, with slight sociopathic tendencies. Which basically means I get happy, then very happy, then crash. And when I feel cornered, I strike out, without necessarily understanding the consequences.

Some people call it Trump Syndrome. That’s. A. Joke.

Some people medicate. Others try to manage with lifestyle change. But, like alcoholism and addiction (which are symptoms of depression), depression is not curable. It is only manageable. It is always a moving feast. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. And the worst part is that the stigma is so great that too many of us remain in denial that we might suffer from it.

To date, I have managed my depression with lifestyle choice and change. Which presents an interesting conundrum for those who love and care for me. Did I decide to bring my twelve-year sojourn in Carrboro, NC to an end because I was depressed, and I was striking out? Or, did I decide to change my lifestyle to manage my depression? To find a new environment, with less stimulus?

When you think you have the answer. Please let me know. All I can do. All anyone with depression can do. Is manage the best we can.

I’m not going to get into the continuing debate about medication -v- lifestyle management. We all choose what works for us. I don’t like medication. I do not find it surgical. I find it smothers my creativity. And frankly. I’ll take the daily panic attacks. The moments I go outside and count to a hundred. The times I hide in the closet. In the dark. Until the demons leave. I’ll take all of that. For the ability once a day. Once a week. Once a month. To compose a song. Chase a recalcitrant employer, politician, authority figure of your choice. Or write a post like this. That’s my choice.

But. I am aware the demons are closing in. And one day, counting to a hundred may not be enough. And one day, I may need to choose medication. And when that day comes, shrug, I’ll do it.

I am fortunate to have friends and family who love and understand. And to to be blessed with a brain that recognizes most of what is going on. And can discern the difference between reality and not. I am comfortable with the very ingrained fact that, long ago, I decided that, above all, I love life. And that I will only leave naturally. All the rest is one long delicious maze. But that’s me. It’s not everyone. Please bear that in mind.

I guess all I’m really asking with this post is that, in your personal relationships, when you get to feeling hate for the overbearing boss, the slowcoach not pulling their weight, the annoying guy with the annoying stories at the bar. Spare a thought for depression. And demonstrate in action that progressivism we all love to write about.

Same thing when it comes to civic affairs. It’s no good preaching all over Facebook and your favorite blog about how liberal you are. If you can’t be bothered to find out what is depression, and truly understand how much social disadvantage flows from an ailment you may find uncomfortable. The result is you may be coming up with prescriptions that inflict further discomfort on others, simply because mental health issues are something you’d rather sweep under the rug.

All I ask is please be patient. Please be progressive in action as well as thought.

[Facebook comments are here.]


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