- Posted September 26, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Are you living with depression?
It's a Wonderful (Depressing) Life
This is a true statement most days of my life, but I don't often come out and say it - because then people ask, "why?" It's easier not to bring it up than try to answer that simple question. The short, simple answers I can give - "it's in the genes"; "it's just how my brain is wired"; "It's Monday"; "Why not?" - are woefully insufficient, even if they're accurate.
Here's the thing. I have a wonderful life. I am blessed with a close and caring family, an extraordinary husband, a good job, a nice home ... I laugh, enjoy a somewhat colorful sense of humor, have had the good fortune and intellectual capacity to get an education - then some more education. I have enough to eat, I'm clothed, have a roof over my head, am enveloped in a strong and loving family unit. In short, I have it all.
And yet, I'm depressed. I've been depressed to some extent my entire adult life. I'm 49, and over the last four decades have engaged in extensive therapy and been treated with variety of medications. All of which helps me manage and live with my depression, but doesn't eliminate the FACT of it. The FACT of it is depression runs for generations in my family - on both sides, but especially on my mother's side - and I inherited the tendency for it. Just as I inherited artistic ability, insatiable curiosity, child-bearing hips, blue eyes, bad knees, nice skin, and great teeth.
My depression is well-treated and well-managed, but I've also learned to be honest and realistic about it. Some people live with diabetes or asthma or high blood pressure. I live with depression; I always have and probably always will. Sometimes each day feels like a challenge; sometimes I don't really want to be alive anymore. Some people in my family have committed suicide; others have tried. I recognize the danger - and appreciate that my family has been open enough to talk about depression and suicide, and not try to hide its presence and influence. I also have the great fortune of a husband and family who are understanding, supportive, and proactive. They recognize when I'm sliding, and advocate for my safety and treatment if I'm not doing that sufficiently on my own. This is truly a blessing.
Contemporary medicine has come a long way in understanding and treating depression, but it's a very complex problem, with many causes, symptoms, and varying levels of responsiveness to treatment. It is definitely not a one-size-fits-all disease, and that enormously complicates managing it. I like to think the medical community will discover ways to actually CURE depression; but I'm not hopeful. Maybe that's a reflection of a depressed attitude, or maybe it's a reflection of pragmatism. Maybe it's both.
While the best minds in medicine, psychiatry, pharmacology, and neurology continue research, discovery, and devise improved treatments, I'll continue living my life as best I can; it is, after all, a wonderful life. Just with depression.
And even if I can't answer that simple "why?" question, I can at least be honest that it's my reality - whether or not I have a good excuse at the ready.