This article, entitled What Everyone Should Know About Depression comes from Nicole Knepper, writer of Moms Who Drink and Swear © on chicagonow.com.
Trust me, I am a professional. I really am. Go ahead and look it up, I’ll wait.
The vast amount of incorrect information and half truths that is available for our reading pleasure overwhelms me. I’m sure you feel the same sometimes. I ignore everything about the Kardashians because I’m not interested in them, but if something about mental health catches my eye...
I am not going to give you medical advice, but I am going to fling a load of common sense mixed with professional and personal knowledge in your general direction.
Be interested in what I have to say because you could save a life and that life could be your own. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to certain things and one of those things is depression.
Depression hurts. Depression kills. Depression can be treated.
- Depression is like a pair of skinny jeans. Some people can wear them and go through the day in a state of relative comfort, but others put them on and wish immediately for a pair of scissors to cut them off so they can find and stab the person who invented them. Yes indeed, depression looks different and feels different for everyone.
- And speaking of skinny and fat, depressed people can get be too skinny or too fat or they can look just right. Sometimes body size is a clue that a person is indeed depressed, especially if the body experiences drastic change in a relatively short period of time. Some people eat too much, others too little. Depression and the buddies he sometimes hangs out with, anxiety, alcoholism, anorexia, bulimia, psychosis, are brutal on the body. People die from the physical damage and havoc that these bastards wreak on their insides.
- If you are concerned that you might be suffering from depression, you probably are. Go to your doctor. Tell him or her how you are feeling and ask for a referral to a mental health professional. Depression is serious business and general practitioners are not going to be as effective at helping you get your depression under control as a doctor that specializes in the treatment of this very real and complex condition.
- Yes, depression is complex. There is just a lot of “stuff” involved. Sometimes you can see it clearly and identify it. Other times, you can't.
- When I say that depression is complex, I mean that it’s a multi-faceted condition that can be difficult to identify and treat. When people try to simplify it and say things like, “Just suck it up,” or “Choose to be happy,” I get irritated. People CAN choose to get help so that they can feel happier, but that's really hard when they are lost in depression.
- Depression can be chemical, psychological, chemical and psychological, severe, mild, moderate, brief, related to grief or chronic and pervasive. Some people become psychotic, others weepy. I’ve seen anger, irritability, and a complete absence of affect (emotion) in depressed people of all ages. I like to say that depression comes in 31 flavors, like ice cream. Some of the ice cream tastes better than others, it is easier to digest, even for people who are lactose intolerant.
- Men and women do depression differently, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering from the same general condition. Remember? Skinny jeans. Men are less likely to seek treatment for depression. It's ridiculous. Don’t show weakness guys! Get help fellas. You can still keep your man card.
- Medication alone isn’t going to be a miracle cure. Taking an anti-depressant and NOT seeking a bit of counseling is like chasing your daily dose of cholesterol medication with a Velveeta and butter smoothie. Add +1 to -1 and you get ZERO. Drinking alcohol while on medication for depression isn’t recommended either. “Gee, this Zoloft is useless. Could you get me a beer honey? That’ll cheer me up.” No, it won't dummy. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant.
- Medication isn’t always the right way to treat depression, but when it is, patience is required. Like skinny jeans, meds fit everyone differently. They have side effects, take awhile to work, require close monitoring and will not completely eliminate symptoms.
- You are not a doctor. I am not a doctor. Your neighbor Phil who has a cousin who took some herb from the Asian store and drank carrot juice and sat under a light box and sang “Kumbya” isn’t a reliable source of information. Neither is that lady you met at Bunco who swears that when she took Prozac, she almost killed her kids and gained 43 pounds. She needs to get her thyroid checked, stop eating all the left over chicken nuggets and let her doc know that she needs a medication change. Skinny jeans are not for her. Maybe carpenter jeans or mom jeans or sweatpants?
- If you feel that feeling, you know the one, the feeling that something just isn’t right with you and the sound of your children’s laughter or the voices of your co-workers make you feel like your spine is about to rip out of your skin up through your neck, but only after you snap at them repeatedly and seem to be grinding your teeth so hard that it makes your head pound and your teeth are becoming nubs, you should really find time to see a doctor.
- If you are having problems falling asleep, staying asleep, waking early, or feel tired a mere ten minutes after you get out of bed for the day, talk to your doctor.
- If you can’t concentrate for longer than your toddler, find yourself forgetting just about everything and can’t seem to get organized no matter what you do, talk to your doctor.
- If you find that you have become the most angry, negative, oversensitive, nit-picky, passive aggressive person you know, talk to your doctor.
- If you think getting help or talking about it makes you weak, you are wrong. Strong people are open, honest and committed to doing right by others and for others and depression makes doing right difficult, if not impossible for some.
So, don’t read the Internet that tells you what you want to hear or get yourself in a game of Dr. Google, trying to diagnose and treat yourself.
Last but not least, don’t wear the skinny jeans if they just don’t fit right, okay? If something is making you uncomfortable and unhappy, you have the power to make it right. Remember that comparison is the thief of joy. Just because all the cool kids are jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge in their skinny jeans after drinking beers, that doesn’t mean you should feel bad driving to therapy in your pajama jeans after taking your happy pills.
Trust me. I’m a professional.