I don’t think I could think of three words to string together that could trivialize an incredibly prevalent and dangerous disease more.
People with any type of depression in our society are shut-out, marked off as weak, and avoided worse than lepers.
I have had professors at OCCC tell me I just need to “get ahold of it” and “keep pushing.”
To them I would like to say: F**k you. What an incredibly useless statement to completely invalidate something I have absolutely no control of.
Technically depression is a disorder, not a disease. But honestly, I could care less about what it’s classified as because OCCC students and staff, Oklahomans, Americans need to get a few things straight about depression.
First off, you don’t choose when you have a depressive episode.
Last week I started feeling sick. I spent most of the weekend indoors. Then yesterday, out of seemingly nowhere I had what I like to call “A Level 5 Panic Attack” at the college’s library while working on a final presentation.
I left the library with my heart pounding, feeling like I couldn’t breath, talking to myself, shooting pain and cramps in my entire body.
Panic attacks are a very physical thing. For me they are triggered by anxiety and they kick me off the ledge that those who deal with depression are always tottering on.
I took 50mg of Benadryl (that’s what most clinics give people who are actively having a panic attack) to stop the attack upon getting home. I missed my final presentation. I fell asleep for 12 hours.
This morning I felt so low the moment I woke up. It has been a few months since I have had a truly manic depressive episode.
But of course, it happened. Now, in finals week. They involve suicidal thoughts, crushing anxiety, complete isolation.
I finally managed to come out of it enough to get to work, with the help of my partner who also suffers from depression.
Anyone who is feeling depressed around this time of year, the time of year when school work is mounting and the pressure is on should know that they are not alone and not weak. They can come out of this, but it takes time and talking about it.
Another thing to get straight: the Center for Disease Control says that there is not a spike in suicides around the holidays, despite a long perpetuated myth.
What that means is that we all need to be talking about depression and suicide the entire year. It is not isolated to a certain time of year for us who suffer from depression. It is constant. It is all the time and frequently escalates exactly when you don’t want it to the most.
So to professors: be aware of students. Ask them how they are, and actually be prepared to listen. Avoid statements that make them feel like they are acting weak or trivialize their condition.
Everyone could do a better job to make people with depression feel like they are in an open and accepting environment where their disorder can be talked about without judgement.
If anyone ever just needs to talk about what they feel like, get some advice from a person who’s dealt with this for a long time, please contact me. My cell phone number is 405-659-2926.