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Down and Dirty Depression

SAnne Lafferty - Writer/BloggerSorry friends, depression is a normal state of mind in many circumstances. Feeling sad and tired, wanting to sleep constantly, not enjoying social activities, eating too much or too little are all common components of normal depression.

Sounds pretty uncomfortable. In fact, depression is considered an illness!  Should I take a pill and fix it?

Maybe, and maybe not. To repeat, depression is a normal response to frustrating or sad circumstances. Often people become depressed over things that they would like to change, but feel they cannot. For example, an older woman may lose a spouse to death, or divorce. She may feel that she may never again experience love and marriage. A negative diagnosis for disease, the illness and subsequent loss of a parent, financial reversals…….all of these are very frustrating and appear unchangeable at times.

But before we charge in and fix things………a person must be allowed to grieve a loss. In past times, a person was allowed a year of formal mourning for the death of a relative. The person in mourning was identified by certain clothing (black in US culture)  and understanding was expected from observers. If an individual  ‘took to their bed’ from prostrated grief, a neighbor or relative often performed necessary chores for the mourner.

Today, though, the prevailing wind is often the ‘get well quick’ formula for sadness and depression. A woman facing serious financial reversals is expected to ‘be strong’ and put on a smiley face, although she could make an exception for her financial adviser!   A person suffering serious injury in a car wreck is portrayed in media coverage as ‘brave’, giving it a ‘great fight’, a winner.  By contrast, a person who cries constantly, breaks down and grieves the loss of her spouse, her health or her financial status is viewed askance. In spite of the emphasis on ‘sharing’ within our culture, excessive displays of grief are viewed with embarrassment and distaste, for the most part.  Come on! We need some happy talk, here!

In hurrying the grieving process, in promoting a ‘pill’ to fix it, we not only do a disfavor to the mourner, but we do ourselves a disservice. By not accepting and learning the hurt and loss that will come to us all eventually, we do not prepare ourselves for these life events. We also deny ourselves the opportunity to comfort a sad person.

I know. We don’t know ‘what to say.’ We may say the wrong thing, and come off like a jack-ass in a serious situation. But is avoiding the subject or saying nothing at all the solution? I doubt it.

Grieving loss, whether it’s the death of a loved one, a decline in health , or the collapse of  a personal dream,  can be devastating.

Let’s think of some ways to accept our grief, stay healthy through the process, and eventually come out the other end of the tunnel.

Stay tuned!

 

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