Depression Through The Lenses of A Person Who’s Not Depressed
I must put a disclaimer that by no means am I stating that I’m an expert in this sensitive area and by no means is the content of this piece reflective of the one million people in Australia who suffer from depression.
I used to think depression was a state of being that one could have the power to ‘choose’ to get out of. I really couldn’t understand people who said they were ‘depressed,’ and in the process found myself judging them. A lot. Especially in the context of shared faith I would stipulate even more, if you have this kind of faith, how can you be depressed? How hard is it for you to get over this bump? It’s not that big of a deal. I imposed my own ability to be resilient and get through the hardships of life unto others and couldn’t get why those around me who were ‘depressed’ couldn’t.
I then reasoned to myself that maybe things are just that bad for certain individuals and you’re not aware. Fair enough. That was me trying to come to a conclusion on a matter that is actually inconclusive. If it’s just the thoughts and emotions that are weighing you down, surely you can have control to navigate them? Just a little more willpower, c’mon! [see? Inconclusive]
After college, I decided to move out to Korea to work for a bit. One afternoon, I received a phone call from a friend. She sounded distressed. She went on to tell me that someone we knew from back in our church college ministry had just committed suicide. I was in shock to say the least. This girl was pretty, well-loved by her family and friends, smart, and had things going for her. My friend went on to inform me it’s suspected she was suffering from depression. My initial mental reaction was “From WHAT?! What could she possibly have been depressed about?”
Fast forward a few more years. I met one of the most expressive, positive, affirming and loving people to this day. So imagine my surprise when I found out that he was suffering from clinical depression. “Wait… from what?”
After that, I was curious. So I started to do what most curious people do. Google. I read through a plethora of blogs, watched TedTalks, conversed with my friend who’s a clinical psychologist, and realised, there’s no ‘what.’ As in, with most cases of depression, there’s no single or sequence of traumatic events to create a mental state of being where everything is heavy, dark, and the myriad of voices never go mute. Most clinical psychologists say it’s a neurological imbalance of hormones in the brain that causes certain triggers to act more severely than in a more “balanced” brain.
Needless to say, I was ashamed.
I used to label depressed individuals as lazy, lethargic, willpower-less, and unappreciative individuals who couldn’t focus on the ‘good’ but only the ‘bad’ in their life.
But if the ‘bad’ is a shroud of darkness that hovers everywhere they go, uncontrollably loud demeaning voices, and where getting out of bed each morning is going against some gravitational pull that tries to keep them down, then I cannot blame them.
In fact, I must celebrate them. The days they get out of bed, the moments where they remember to eat, the times they spend with their friends- these are all things worth celebrating. Just as we celebrate those who are able to regain mobility of a limb after an accident, or someone who successfully completes chemotherapy, these moments are those of victory for those who deal with the tormenting darkness everyday.
So I’ve come to realise, instead of looking down on them, I must celebrate them. Because these individuals are the brave ones. They’re the ones who go out everyday despite the monster that follows them. They’re the ones who find the urge to fight because there’s a small voice inside of them that reminds them they have loved ones. They’re the ones who are the most loyal and faithful because they of all people, understand what it feels like to be alone. So today and everyday, I choose to celebrate and love those who are brave to face a new day as it comes forth.