In our household, we don't talk about depression. After the discovery, my sweetheart told me that he didn't want to talk about it, not because he was in denial, but because he felt saying, "I have depression" was too much. It reminded him that there was something going on that he couldn't control. In addition with trying to understand his ADHD, it was too much to think about.
It makes him feel like he is inferior. It makes him feel like there is something "wrong" with him. It makes him feel like he should be able to control how he was feeling, and when he can't, it gets worse.
After reading about depression, I needed a clear understanding of the definition. I only found one that I liked from Dictionary.com:
- A serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way
- A mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest....it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems
All those definitions talk about "feelings" or "mood" as if the depressed person has complete control over how they are 'feeling.' After reading the definitions from Websters, the Mayo Clinic, and Medical Encyclopedia, it is clear to me that the definition of depression is portrayed as a condition that is solely dependent on the person who has it.
I am still struggling a bit with the idea that people who are depressed don't have any control, but I can say this: do I agree that some of the emotion is controllable? Yes. The way a person responds to it, matters. They way a person decides to figure out happiness for them, matters. However, us outsiders need to understand that sometimes, depression just is.
I remember being depressed for a time, and it was the worst thing I can remember, aside from physical pain. I remember not being able to explain where this sadness came from. I couldn't describe that no matter what I did to make it better, it wouldn't go away. I prayed, fasted, went to church to seek religious healing, served other people, searched for answers in holy writ and other reading material, meditated, exercised, everything that people tell you to do to be happy. Nothing. Not one bit of happiness. Luckily, this only lasted three months.
I can't even think about what it would be like to combat this all the time. Imagine waking up day after day feeling like you have done everything you can, and you are still unable to shake the sadness. I do not pretend that my little stint of depression could ever be compared with a lifetime of depression.
I was moved by a story of someone who was recently saved from his overwhelming depression. In the article: Suicide and How my Brother Saved Me from Drowning, Seth Adam Smith has an interesting perspective of how we can support those who have depression.
I think the takeaway for me is that each person struggling with depression will have a different way of finding ways to be happy, or to be "saved" from the struggle. Everyone has different coping mechanisms.
Some may choose not talk about the fact that they struggle with it. Maybe, just maybe, not mentioning depression means they have found one way they are controlling something that may not be as controllable as we think....because talking about it is....depressing.