Saturday, October 3, 2015


I’ve never quite fully understood depression. I can never understand why it’s so hard to let go of depression.

I know several people that suffer from depression and my thought so often is, “can’t you just put it out of your mind and not go back there?” Turning off depression is easier for some than others.

I have a friend that I’ve known since 1985 her name is Susie. She was 19 when I met her and even at that young age she was filled with depression. She would cry quite a bit and she rarely smiled. I couldn’t understand this because Susie was one of the most attractive and most intelligent people you could know. As the years went on she graduated from college and landed a great job as an interior designer and started making some serious money. From there she went and married the man of her dreams and had two fantastic boys who are now both in high school and doing very well. She has the dream life… nice home… stable marriage… strong family… great job… but still to this day Susie suffers from clinical depression. She just can’t shake it. She says she gets so sad some days that she just can’t handle it. It’s like a black cloud is following her.

It was just a few years ago that she mentioned the term clinical depression to me so I decided to google it and I studied up on it. I really wanted to know what was going on with my friend. In the short clinical depression is described as, a constant sense of hopelessness and despair. That is Susie.

So many times I’ve noticed Susie would go through periods of inactivity. She’d stay home on her days off and do absolutely nothing. She’s this brilliant designer but when she is not working it’s as if her brain completely shuts down and she cannot think of anything. All she can do is stay in her bed and shut herself away from the world. She said there are times when she will stay in her room and just cry all day. I just don’t understand this as she has such a dedicated husband. He’s stayed with her all these years, since 1994. From Susie I’ve come to realize that having a dedicated spouse or friend does not take the depression away. So, I ask than what exactly takes it away? Is a person supposed to live their entire life like this. Thinking about Susie makes me feel depressed for her. She’s 49 years old and has been this way as long as I’ve known her.

After I learned about clinical depression I finally got the nerve up to ask Susie just what it is that makes her so depressed. She didn’t have an answer. She just looked at me and said that’s the way she was born. But than she said that when she was a child her family moved quite a bit. From the age of four through the age of fifteen they had moved more than a dozen times. Every time she made a friend they ended up moving. She grew up not really having any friends. She said that the thought of change made her very depressed. Finally when she was eighteen she split from her family and stayed in Southern California. She thought this would help but the depression was so ingrained into her mind that she just could not shake it. She also confessed to me that she was prone to depression as her grandmother suffered from depression and had killed herself when she was 50 years old. She couldn't take it anymore.

In 1998 Susie started seeing a therapist, as suggested by her husband. She said the therapist has helped her to understand her depression and the root of it. But she still deals with the depression. I asked her, “well isn’t there medication you can take?” She said yes, but that the medication gives her headaches and body aches and she can’t sleep at night. It takes away her depression but then during the day she can’t stay awake. So she stopped the medication.

It just always has amazed me that with her depression Susie has been able to maintain a good and healthy marriage and successfully raise two very caring and well-focused sons. She has worked continuously for the past 20 years and is successful in all she does. I asked her, “How do you do it?” She said she’s become very good at compartmentalizing her depression. When she’s at work she is very capable of putting on the act. She may be hurting inside but she’s able to put on a happy face for her clients. “Well how do you concentrate with all the stress in your mind?” She said she juggles the stress and confusion. She’s able to put all that anxiety into her work and really focus. She says work is one of the few things in her life that gives her a break from the depression. “Well how about your husband and sons?” She said that for them she has to put on that happy face again even when it hurts. “But,” she said, “I am honest with my family. They know I suffer with this affliction and they are so good about it. When I get a migraine or just become moody my youngest son helps me to relax. He cools and darkens the room and he massages my feet. That helps but in the end I’m still depressed.”

I think the one thing that keeps Susie going is her family. The dedication from them is unbelievable.

I’ve had many conversations with Susie about her depression. At one point I had mentioned to her that I have this philosophy called, “move ahead and don’t look back.” I just let go of things and not let them bother me. “I’m like a rock,” I told her. If I do ever run into problems or things are weighing heavy on my mind. I take all those problems and issues and wrap them into one and put them away… I send them away in prayer or meditation. I just clear my mind of the ordeals, the depression, and the worries and give them away and I do not take them back. She liked this idea and she said she would try it. A few weeks later I asked her if she had tried the “move ahead and do not look back” method. She said that she did but it only worked for about a week or so. I asked her why only a week. She said that it was too much effort for her. I responded that you have to make it a daily part of your life. Adopt it as routine. It should be natural like a reflex for you. She said she would try and see. She never did try it again and has continued with her depression.

After knowing Susie for three decades and having many conversations, I've finally come to the realization that depression is Susie’s way of coping with reality. Depression is her way of escaping depression.

1 comment:

  1. I can understand you're not fully understanding depression, it's quite complicated. Your philosophy of moving on & not looking back is not a realistic approach to clinical depression. Meditation may work in some situations but it is unlikely to work with depression. Sometimes depression gets so bad that you can't concentrate let alone meditate. What Susie said about medication is the most common complaint. It's sad because it's more like a trade off. One of the most important things I know about the treatment of depression or any other mental illness is that medications CAN work. Unfortunately, it's trying to find the right medications for that person. Depression & other illnesses like it are not exactly curable but it is always possible to treat the symptoms enough for a person to become more functional. Support groups & therapy help. Family being educated & supportive is very important. Too many times families think all the person needs is to do is get out more, find a hobby or make some new friends. It's much like a famous singer I knew who had an eating disorder. People would say she'd be fine...all she had to do was eat. It was more complicated than that...people just didn't understand that then & even now. The best thing for those who care about someone like your Susie is to learn about the illness & what you can & cannot do. Encouragement helps too if it's the right encouraging the person not to give up just because 1 or 2 things didn't work. Medications can take sometimes 4-6 weeks to take effect. If that didn't help different medications are tried & once takes time to see if they will work. This is where encouragement & support & understanding come into play. Don't tell the person to get out more....sometimes they can't even get out of their own heads...