The first “D” word

There are certain words that we have been ascribed to think of as lacking light or positivity. It is my belief that depression is one of those words. For example, if I were to say that I am depressed, many people would react in two ways. There might be the reaction of concern or compassion, or there might be the response of avoidance. I think these responses are certainly a result of conditioning.

The word and a gray cloud used to be synonymous in my mind. This image could also be seen as a storm cloud moving and could bring with it a mild rainstorm or an intense thunderstorm. I have since changed the image that I relate to the word, as a passing cloud of no particular color.

In this era of extremes, it is hard to imagine anything that hasn’t been taken to the limit. We have “extreme” versions of nearly every activity, food, or habit. Depression has also fallen prey to this goal of maximization. Unfortunately, depression and extremism do not mesh well. Pharmaceutical companies market antidepressants like they are vitamins and a form of general health, and in essence, depict every form of depression as “extreme”.

There seems to be no categorization for the varied forms of depression. The message is “all depression is bad, unexpected, and unwanted, and we, as humans, should never feel crappy”.

Also, unfortunately, that isn’t reality. Reality is: we, as humans, will have times when we are depressed. Depression is a part of the human experience. When so many life events, changes, or situations can bring it on, attempting to avoid it is fruitless. There is certainly power in acknowledging it, as well as, planning for it. The question is not whether it will come for all of us. Rather than a singular question, there are multiple questions. Those questions are: do each of us have the tools to acknowledge it, and manage it appropriately, and if not, do we know when to seek help in managing it?

Just as with any other physical ailment, we know when we need to seek medical advice. For example, some physical ailments can be corrected/managed through dietary changes, or exercise, or therapy. I propose that some forms of depression be addressed as “temporary” or “expected” throughout life, and alternative tools be given to cope. Medication should always be seen as necessary while treating “extreme” cases. Not every case of depression is “extreme”, and sometimes depression is just a symptom of living a full life.

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