A Depression Synopsis
Telling It Like It Is
Depression is often well articulated by medical definition but not fully understood by the general public. Most people get their view of depression from movies or television or drug advertisements. But the symptoms portrayed in these media really do not capture the true character of mental depression. People with this illness don't sit looking out the window with a sad, longing expression. They interact with you everyday smiling, joking, and seeming to be the average person in the street. What we don't see, with apologies to Smokey Robinson, is "the tears of a clown". Its a rare day that goes by when we don't watch a news report of suicides, family disputes, shootings, or some other kind of not-so-happy act. Their friends and neighbors interviewed are always "shocked" by this revelation. "Gee, he seemed like such a nice guy, always had a friendly smile or greeting". Its not to say that these reports are only about persons who have this illness but many of these individuals are acting in response to conditions exacerbated by depression. To those of us who really understand, we know its a manifestation of their extreme frustration, sense of failure, and subsequent inability to find reward or satisfaction in their lives. These feelings intensify over time and need to be released in a healthy way before becoming uncontrollable.
Depression is something deep inside. Its an overwhelming emptiness, a sadness that consumes free thoughts and prohibits pleasure. You can't find happiness or satisfaction in any normal daily activity, often feeling quite alone with a sadness much like the grief experienced when mourning a death. You still love your family and care about friends but are constantly waiting for bad news or disaster to strike .... the infamous other shoe to drop. Being mentally consumed in this manner inhibits any attempt to be happy. Friends tell you to "get over it", "chill-out", " quit thinking that way" and so on. They don't understand and this just puts you deeper in your hole. You find yourself more withdrawn, limiting contacts, avoiding social events. You truly feel that no good deed goes unpunished so why expose yourself. If everything is viewed with a negative eye, you can't be disappointed. This is how to protect yourself.
It is most important to distinguish between being depressed and having depression. Being depressed is an emotion while depression is an illness. Medications can help. They are not a cure but can provide enough symptom relief to enable a person some control over anger or extreme grief, allowing them to function. Depression ranges from mild to manic but the depth of emotion is the same for all who have this illness. Many can find solace in sharing their thoughts with others who also live with depression. Those who share the symptoms are best suited to listen, understand and comfort. My advice is to seek out others who are ill and talk, vent, relieve the pent-up fears and bad thoughts. It isn't a cure but you won't feel alone and sometimes that's just enough to go another day.