Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Depression: A Sensitive Subject

At this point in time, after struggling with depression for over 42 years, I am able to frankly discuss my illness with anyone who is interested. I'm not sure what it is about my personality that makes that easy for me do. At the same time, I do understand why so many people are unable to be that open.

Our society has placed a stigma on those who experience a mental illness. Fortunately, due to more efforts to educate the public, that is changing. It seems that the people with whom I've talked about these disorders fall into three categories. (1) Those who are ignorant (unknowledgeable) and (2) those who are fearful and (3) those who are compassionate. I've seen many individuals move from the first two categories and into the the third.

The majority of people in the United States (and the world) haven't been given enough information to form a basis for understanding. Consequently, many are fearful of how mental illness might impact their personal world. This results in shunning, criticism, harsh remarks and sometimes abuse being directed toward others who bear the burden of this disease.

That is why some people are reluctant to share their problems openly with others. That is why depression is probably the most untreated illness in America, even though it is often the most treatable. Sufferers are reluctant to discuss this issue with their physicians and their loved ones. Therefore, their health continues to spiral down, and unless their doctor or family is perceptive and asks the right questions, they won't receive the help that they need.

All of us must be willing to face the truth. Depression is a fact of life, just as is high blood-pressure, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, and even death. Therefore, I believe that we need to be as comfortable discussing mental illness as we are any other disease. Probably all of us could move a little closer to understanding and compassion. Don't you agree?

I have a mental illness. And that's an inescapable fact.

["I'm so low, I could do a ten minute free-fall off the edge of a dime."]