Don’t tell anybody that I’m depressed

Published 1:32 pm Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I have been taking care of women for many years now. As I reflect, I have seen many changes in many ways over time.

There have been big changes in mental health care over those years. Depression was once shunned as a weakness, an unacceptable frailty.

Thirty years ago, once someone was diagnosed with depression they were likely to be shipped off to a facility for a lengthy stay. Intense therapy was initiated, which could include mind-numbing drugs, psychotherapy and electroconvulsive shock treatment. These facilities are less common now as the goal has been to keep even severely affected patients at home.

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Over time we have come to recognize that not all depression is so disabling.

Society is actually producing a new level of mental health problems. These women, challenged in so many ways, often are not suffering from a genetically determined severe illness. They are more likely being impacted by societal forces that induce high levels of stress. While debilitating and overwhelming mental health problems still impact a small percentage of our population, there is now a much larger group of those who are hanging in there, staying in the game of life.

The truth though is that these women may be having a harder and harder time keeping up.

I remember back to the fading days of black and white TV, as it was evolving to color. There were predictions that in the future, labor saving devices and robots would reduce the average work week to 30 hours. The prediction was that there would be rest, relaxation and so much more time for leisure.

What could be better than that?

Well, I guess working to exhaustion must be better, because that is the real change our society has adopted.

Labor-saving devices have become opportunity devices, allowing for new opportunities in which to jam more and more business and “things” in.

The microwave saves time, time that allows you to squeeze in a run by Walmart after work and grab a few “needed” items.

The cable or satellite TV now allows you to search even more channels, only to find nothing uplifting worth watching.

The computer now allows you to shop on line, searching for more things to buy that you don’t really need but that can raise your credit card balance.

The omnipresent cell phone means that you can coordinate more and more things simultaneously, things that not long ago just didn’t seem that important or urgent. And, that cell phone can follow you everywhere, if you allow it.

It is a face-paced life we live!

The faster the pace, the more we find women who are having trouble keeping up. The typical woman doesn’t have a disease that disqualifies her from life; but she is suffering as she keeps pedaling day after day.

She works a 40 hour week and she has to do it with dedication because she knows some who have recently lost their jobs. She can’t afford to be one of those. She may even be covering all the household bills because her husband has been laid off or maybe her man just left and took off.

She has to coordinate the kid’s schedule and supervise their homework. She has to get that laundry done in time. She has to make sure the kids are where they belong and when they need to be there; while those places seem to be more and more numerous. And, all that time she is talking on the cell phone, multi-tasking, increasing her effort and stress!

What she needs is a break, but she is not going to get one!

Maybe she gets two weeks of vacation, but part of that may even be spent taking a child to a soccer tournament or the like and staying in a motel, far from an environment allowing rest and catching up on sleep.

Finances are tight; those payments have to be met. Slacking is now allowed.

“Maybe there will be enough money to spend a few days at the beach”; maybe!

She is working hard, she is working long, and she is doing a terrific job. Sometimes though, she just can’t sleep. Her mind keeps going. Sometimes she just feels so tired, she doesn’t know how she will go tomorrow.

She tries to be positive but sometimes she just feels helpless to change things. She doesn’t see an end in sight and she is not sure she can keep going. She tries to be positive, but occasionally she just flies off the handle and yells. There was a point a while back when she once was more patient and kind. She liked herself better then.

Oh, and that sex thing, just forget it! There is no time for it and she is too tired!

She worries because she is not sure that she is up to the job of the next year, the next week or even the next day. She feels inadequate and guilty!

She is struggling, big time.

If this picture fits you, you may not realize it, but you may be depressed.

That feeling of tired is a sign. Those feelings of struggling to find fun, of less sexual interest, of helplessness, hopelessness and negativity are all signs of depression.

I suspect that you don’t want to admit it. That is part of the problem. You don’t feel like there is really any help available. Remember that the discouragement you feel is one of the traits of depression; i.e. hopelessness. You feel guilty and inadequate, you feel all alone, like nobody else is struggling this way. That is the trait of depression called feeling helpless.

Yes, we call all this depression. It is not the old-time severe depression of 30 years ago. It is the depression of the new millennium. Does any of this ring true in you or someone you love?

The reality is that there is hope, there is help, there is joy, and there is a way to “smell the roses along the way.”

I’ve used up all the ink that The Post-Searchlight will allow for today. Look for my next article where I will talk about surviving in the battle!