Sitting at my desk, I just received a call from a person who felt they needed to explain to me why they had not been at the kitchen or in any public venue for the last week.
It took only about two minutes for me to recognize the onset of severe depression. But for five or more minutes I patiently listened while this person tried vainly to explain how they felt; my own feelings of inability to help growing as the conversation carried on.
My initial reaction was to gloss over the situation, and then to use humor to override it. But therein was the problem. I don’t think I was supposed to react at all; just shut up and listen. So I did, interjecting every so often only to give assurance of our friendship and my support.
So what exactly is depression; my trusty Funk & Wagnalls states the following: 1 sad, dejected. 2 pressed down, flattened. 3 lowered or sunk even with or below the surface. 4 reduced in power, amount, and value.
Every one of these applied to this person plus more; even they could not explain the feeling.
We can all say that we know someone who suffers from depression; we recognize it, but we don’t always know what causes it. I went on line, and found that the subject is so huge and so prevalent, that I don’t have enough space here to list it all. I know that in women it can be hormonal and in men a chemical imbalance, but probably one of the most prevalent causes is dealing with past hurts. In speaking with my wife about the causes, she stated that she had heard it explained this way; it is anger turned inward. It took a few minutes, but I was eventually able to wrap my head around that statement.
If sometime in the past someone hurt you or abused you, you have anger. And in the cases of abuse, degradation usually accompanies the abuse, so it is only natural at that point to redirect your anger inward, beating yourself up because you feel you deserved it. Strangely enough, once you have been beaten down in that manner, it seems to be the hardest part to get rid of, so it becomes a cycle of self hatred and blame. Even constant assurance that they were not to blame, doesn’t seem to help. So now that I have had time to reflect on the matter, and barring hormonal or chemical influences, I have come up with the following conclusions:
1 Depression is a process that the mind uses to sort through life items that it finds hard to process.
2 As a lay person or a friend, I do not have the knowledge or the ability to help a person deal with depression.
3 All I can do as a friend is to make myself available to listen, and to demonstrate concern and love.
Depression can be a devastating thing, but with the support of friends and loved ones combined with professional help, this devastating affliction can be dealt with. So the statement “Love conquers all” may have some merit after all.