Two things happened today that made me want to pound my head against a wall, Charlie Brown-style.
The first was that I got an email from a woman who said that she is suffering from severe depression, but that friends and family want her to try to “talk herself out of it”, and not get involved with medication and therapy.
Now, it is not unusual for me to get an email from someone who either (1) feels they should be able to handle their own depression without treatment (2) feels that someone close to them should be able to handle their depression on their own, or (3) is being talked out of seeking treatment by family or friends. These emails never fail to raise my blood pressure a few notches.
The stress from this communication was doubled when the second thing happened, which is that I went to the Psychology/Self-help section at my local bookstore. It seems to be the largest section in the store.
As I looked for legitimate books on depression and its treatment, I couldn’t help but see all the “help yourself” titles in that section, as well as what I call the “Thank God I’m here to tell you what to do, you pathetic loser” books. Dr. Laura Schlessinger was telling me that I do 10 stupid things to mess up my life (only 10, Dr. Laura?), John Roger and Peter McWilliams were telling me that I couldn’t afford the luxury of a negative thought (gee, and I was having so much fun spoiling myself with those negative thoughts), countless others were telling me that if I just bought their book and put some effort into it, I could be happier, sexier, smarter, successful and more fulfilled.
When it came to depression, there was no shortage of advice. Apparently I can embrace depression, use it as a tool for self-discovery, and run it off (at the same time I’m running off those belgian waffles, I guess – how handy). By this time I was way past pounding my head against a wall, and into the Yosemite Sam stage, in which I want to jump up and down and swear uncontrollably.
Let me pause for a moment to explain exactly what I mean when I talk about depression. I’m not referring to the normal down periods that everyone goes through once in a while, that can be brought on by a rainy day, a broken heart, the flu or even for no particular reason. We mope around, listen to sad music and feel sorry for ourselves.
These moods go away within a couple of days, and we can enjoy life again.