Posted by: jedwardswright | November 21, 2011

I May Not Be Who You Think I Am

I am a person with depression.

I am not lazy.

I completed two university degrees, have successfully worked at a number of full and part-time jobs, and raised two wonderful children to be exceptional adults. When I was an educational assistant I also tutored after school. When I was a teacher I worked 16-hour days to complete 20 lesson plans per week, mark students’ work, and write report cards. I write two blogs and have had a small number of poems and small articles published.

Despite all of this, there are some people who think that if I just got off my butt and tried harder, I wouldn’t be depressed.

I am not without a sense of humor.

In fact, one of the blogs I write is a humor blog called Mother Hen’s Nest. On occasion, I have been known in conversation to make some folks laugh so hard it has brought them to tears. I have even, at one point in my past, been known to perform in character in funny skits, and as a camp counselor I taught a theater class on clowning.

Despite all this, I have frown lines where my laugh lines should be, and there are those who are of the opinion that if I would just lighten up, I wouldn’t be depressed.

I am not looking for attention.

Okay, writing a blog about me and depression may not be the best place to make this argument, but in fact, I like to keep to myself lot. As a child, I was accused more than once of being antisocial. I like to be alone with my writing and my books a great deal of the time. The majority of depressed people actually withdraw from society to some degree and desperately cover up their depression because we are afraid that others will hold it against us. It has taken me decades to reach the point where I was willing to go public with my condition. I can think of many easier ways to grab the spotlight than being melancholy and miserable.

Despite all this, there have always been those who are under the impression that I am holding a pity party and inviting everyone to attend. Apparently, if I would just get over myself, I wouldn’t be depressed.

Contrary to appearances, though, this post isn’t all about me. It is about the millions of people like me who suffer every day from the stigma that depression is only for lazy, humorless, attention-seeking cranks who need to get a life.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a medical condition that creates an imbalance in brain chemicals that regulate mood. It is not “the blues,” or feeling down, or having a bad day, or week, or month, or year.  It is not that out-of-sorts feeling that everyone has had at one time or the other.

Rather MDD is an oppressive blackness that makes everything in life appear negative and hopeless. Most people with this disorder have contemplated suicide at some point, so it a life-threatening illness that needs to be taken seriously. The good news is that most people with MDD can be successfully treated by medical professionals.

If you are someone with depression, I hope that you have or will get the help you need from your doctor. No one should live in misery unnecessarily.

If you have someone in your life with depression, please be careful not to imply that they need to get their act together, get a sense of humor, or quit feeling sorry for themselves, no matter how tempting it may be. (I know that sometimes we do try your patience.) It is like encouraging a person with a broken leg to run in a marathon.

I am a person with depression, and I may not be who you think I am.

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Responses

  1. Hello there, I found your blog via Google at the same time as looking for a related topic, your website came up, it appears great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

  2. This is like reading what my brain tells me on a daily, if not hourly basis. I have frown lines, deep ones. I’ve been told to just ‘do life!’ by more than one person. And that I don’t need meds. I just need energy and the WANT to do it. As if I didn’t. As if I don’t. I am not lazy. I certainly hope you no longer think this is true for you.

    • Kim, I don’t think that I am lazy, or without a sense of humor, or looking for attention, and I am sure that you aren’t any of those things either. Hopefully some of the examples I gave give others who would think these things about people with depression something to consider. Mostly I hope that others like us will be encouraged to reject these stereotypes and realize that they are worthwhile people who are simply dealing with a medical condition!


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