Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Wise Words About Depression, From a Teen

Invisible diseases are the toughest to cope with, in my opinion. Invisible health issues, such as chronic pain, celiac disease, or fibromyalgia, are difficult for people to understand because they can't see them. They can't see the problems that they cause and the effects that they have. A cast on your arm is easy to understand. Scars on your skin are obvious to see. But something hidden, invisible - not so much.

Depression is one of those illnesses and not only is it invisible, it's also a mental illness. This makes it even more difficult. As Kevin Breel says in his fantastic talk about depression, we are so accepting and understanding of any body part breaking, except for the brain. How true. 

If our appendix becomes inflamed and needs to be removed, we have surgery. If we get cancer, we get treatment. If we break a limb, we get a cast. But if our brain doesn't act right, if chemicals are not the right level or messages are interrupted, we're stuck. 

What makes Kevin's talk so compelling, so important, is his age (19) and who he is (a writer and stand-up comic). As he says in his talk, no one would guess that he struggles with depression. He's a handsome, popular, high achieving young man. Smiling and working hard, he's one of the last people you would ever dream as having a serious problem like depression. But he did. And he still does.

The good news is that people are beginning to talk about it more. When young people like Kevin speak out and celebrities like Jon Hamm and Bruce Springsteen talk about their experience with depression, those who have been hiding may begin to see that they're not alone. Why is it so important that we talk about depression? Because people need to know they aren't the only ones living with it. They need to know that other people have similar problems and that there is hope.

This week, there was an article in the New York Times article that discussed a treatment for depression, called transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS. TMS isn't for everyone and it may not work for all who try it, but maybe someone who needs it will read about it and benefit from it. If we don't write articles and blog posts about depression and its treatment, people feel alone.

If I can help you take just one thing away from this blog post, it's that you understand that people with depression are everywhere and may be among those who you least expect it. If you have depression, it can be difficult to reach out. The reasons are so varied and so individual, but they can range from fear of being thought less of ("What does he have to be depressed about? Doesn't he know what real problems are, how lucky he is?") to fear ("If my boss finds out, I might get fired.") And even if people do want to ask for help, sometimes they don't know how.

Depression has many descriptions. I see it as a hole, a deep, deep hole. And once you're in it, unless someone lowers a ladder, you feel like you'll never get out. If you are depressed, ask someone for that ladder. If you know someone who is depressed, please offer it. Let that person know you're there and that you care. 


crazyanneca said...

I so clicked with him when he said "Real depression isn’t being sad when something in your life goes wrong. Real depression is being sad when everything in your life is going right."

For me, in a short time frame I feel all my joy with life go down the drain. I can see it swirling into the void.

Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

Yes, I agree. That was a great comment - one of many!