Depression With a Big “D”

The old adage, ”Birds of a feather flock together.” is certainly demonstrated in social media platforms. Yet, it has always been true from our youngest years till today. In High School we used to form cliques. It is a natural social activity. Photography Club, the Jocks, Band, the Motor Heads, and so on. There was a lot of crossover though, making the birds’ feathers more like plaid feathers…

Today, however, we have taken the flocks to an entirely different level. More birds, more flocks, much more exclusivity… and a burgeoning of territorial disputes. Perhaps you’ve seen and heard their disputing — even when they have the same feathers. Squawking, screeching, in a crescendo, carrying on so, and nothing seems to get settled, because the next day, they are back at it again, squawking, screeching…

There is another old adage, too: “Misery loves company.” Online groups can illustrate this truism. Friends are certainly a blessing and can lift us up when we are sad or are suffering in any way. My friends always picked me up, and I was blessed to have good friends. However, when my sadness grew heavier and heavier, my sadness became depression — depression with a small “d.” Isolation became my constant companion. That made my state of mind even worse.

Adults back then had no effective approach to mental health. The authorities in School only had the punitive approach — like detention, suspension, and expulsion. Some coaches were more empathetic like doing 50 pushups, or doing laps — physical discipline “to get “it” out of your system.” Walk it off.

However, when someone is becoming that sad they are becoming mentally sick — like a bout with the flu. Joining friends or the Band or the Team or the Club is not going to be a help anymore. Why? They just don’t understand. You don’t even understand. Then, motivation disappears. Isolation is the preferred choice of lifestyle. So people are the last thing you think you need. Friends still tried to help me, like turning me onto smoking pot. However, I was numb from the neck up. I knew nothing about anything, and everything about nothing, and pathetically, no motivation to change, no idea how to change.

For many, suffering the small “d” type should seek others’ company. Shared experiences and knowing someone else who is going through or has gone through depression may be a great help, even have solutions that work. A common bond: “You are not alone, I know what you’re going through, and I am here to help.”

Do me a favor, though? Please don’t call it PTSD. You may be sad and feeling down, but it is not your right to call it PTSD. Say you’re sad or lonely or even a little depressed. Say you just cannot get over what somebody did or said to you. Cry a bit. It just ain’t PTSD. See website https://www.nimh.nih.gov/PTSD for the symptoms. You could have one or two of them, but just think it through.

When my High School depression continued to degenerate, I entered a darkness never seeing daylight. Isolated, quitting sports, not doing homework, sleeping or just laying on my bed, watching TV. I had a good home and parents who cared. It didn’t matter. I now could go into all the other details that made me Depressed, but I still didn’t have PTSD. I simply hated myself or perhaps I just hated my life even though I had no real reason to complain.

When my Depression deepened, when I was getting ready to go to school or ready for bed, staring in the mirror, my reflection would morph into a hideous, dark, contorted, monster. So sick of this Depression becoming sick of my life, I tried to commit suicide. Obviously, I was no good at that. Being unsuccessful at even suicide strangely bothered me, too. I couldn’t do anything right.

It was Depression, probably clinical, but the rest of the details are unimportant. I got a mild concussion in a football game and that, of course, didn’t help. Yet, again, I was suffering from Depression and not PTSD. PTSD is not a flock of birds with feathered nests. What I mean is people talk about their problems and kind of brag they have PTSD and want to join the club. It is kind of a fad, I guess.

Anyways, talking about problems is not useful in the long run without finding solutions. If being a part of a clique is that important to you, and you just want to hang out, you are merely fulfilling the saying “misery loves company.” Treading in deep waters with no shoreline in sight. Not the best place to be in, especially when the tide is going out.

Notwithstanding all that, I have found hope. Hope and healing. I cannot get depressed any longer; haven’t for years, decades. It’s a bit of a long trek, perhaps, and I’ve been kicked down the hill a few times, certainly, but I have found in Jesus an assured hope, an unfailing hope. Jesus always gets me back up and on the Way: Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30, New Living Translation, Tyndale House)

Trusting in and talking with Jesus and listening to His teaching (as found in the Bible) has kept me from the darkness as I walk with Him in His glorious light. There’s no reason it would not be the same for you. Walk with Jesus into the light.

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D L Henderson

Born 1950; HS 1968; Born again 1972; Cornell ILR; Steward, Local President/Business Agent; Husband, father, grandfather; winner/loser/everything in between