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Friday, February 21, 2014

What Depression and Anxiety Are and Aren’t

“[Depression] is not a character defect, a spiritual disorder or an emotional dysfunction. And chief of all, it’s not a choice.”
— Brandon W. Peach
THERE is much confusion about mental illness – as there has always been. And as we might expect that confusion to abate gradually, we must understand that culture change is not just about addressing the truths and the lies, and righting the wrongs. It takes a generational shift. It takes mothers and fathers and grandparents to open their minds and hearts – if they haven’t been personally afflicted, or haven’t borne a dear one to the pillage of mental ill health – so as to challenge what they have accepted for years.
Much of what we ‘know’ might be revealed as rot.
Much of what we ‘know’ might not be worth knowing in the long run.
As we consider a broadened perspective – that we don’t know it all, will never know it all, and that much of what we know may be overturned at some point – we are able to be open enough to conceive and comprehend what our own eyes might tell us.
Anxiety and depression are not so many things they are said to be.
And even when we can consider that anxiety and depression may be one thing or another, we must always look for the exception, because you can bank on there being one. Mental health and mental ill health cannot be formularised.
One thing anxiety and depression are is unfortunate. We would not wish such mental ills on anyone, because they are so much more than ‘worry’ and ‘sadness’. These are more appropriately life-threatening conditions for what we might be caused to think and do.
There is a part of our humanity that always has the potential for anxiety and depression. I recall a friend who, in approaching fifty, couldn’t reconcile how prevalent mental illness was. He just didn’t get it. Then he got burned out and he was fried by his company. Suddenly both anxiety and depression hit with full force, to the point of suicidal thoughts. Desperate and at the end of life as he had only known it, he stood at a precipice he could not have expected. That is a frightening thought all itself – that our identity is so challenged as to reveal that it, as a construction, is a house of cards.
Anxiety and depression are unfortunate conditions of the heart, mind, and soul that don’t discriminate. We should throw out all the labels for mental ill health, like ‘weak’, ‘dysfunctional’, and ‘immature’. They just don’t do sufferers any justice. They aren’t the truth. Anxiety and depression are respecters of no person. We should praise God more and more often for our mental health.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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