Depression: One Man, One Stigma

On the outside, everything looked ordinary. No cause for alarm. His face appeared youthful. The eyes were clear, and there were no sign of tears. Underneath this protective shield-a form of camouflage-is where you would see them. Long rivers of them flowed below the surface and buried themselves deep in a complex underground mine.

Every now and then, a tremor would materialize like a flash of lightning and shake the whole room. Way up above, as if at the top of a mountain, things were happening at the surface. Blows were being absorbed and shots sustained in the line of fire. As he lay on the ground, he reached out with his voice and reluctantly asked for help from those walking by. They kept on walking; not because they were ignoring his cries, it was just that they could not hear him.

He awoke from a deep sleep, and he was totally covered in it. It was a clear plastic-like material and thin as Saran wrap. Attempting to move, he shifted a little from side to side and found he wasn’t going anywhere. He tried to lift his head up and instead found himself staring up at the ceiling. Breath emanated from his mouth and fogged the surface of the clear straightjacket like mist.

Feelings of exhaustion further inhibited his desire to be productive. It was already getting to be past breakfast time. He was hungry but couldn’t eat. Tired, but couldn’t sleep. Everything was upside down.

The plan had been to actually get some work done and look for a job today. He wanted to get up early and get chores done. Have coffee. Maybe even be around some people today. But it wasn’t to happen this day. It had been longer than he could remember, and he was forgetting what it was like to be around people, and the thought of being around them sparked a feeling of fear that trickled up his spine.

The door opened, and he heard voices.

They chided him for his laziness and inability to move. They criticized him for mooching off of them and not carrying his load: the expectations of a man. Wife. Children. Job. Success. All these things eluded him. He felt cursed.

Looking above to the sky, he saw a dark cloud hanging over him. It rained down guilt, self-loathing, and feelings of disappointment for what he had become. The storm began, and he contemplated the ways he could end it all as he looked in the mirror. He hated what he saw and raised his hand to strike. Something stopped him. It was a voice saying “I love you, and you are not alone in this.”

Written by Jean Russet (@jeanrusset)

Originally published at on October 21, 2017.