DEPRESSION: An Inert Disease....

by Dom Martin



Depression is an inert yet life threatening disease, modified by hope and entombed by hopelessness. It has plagued mankind from the first realization of memory. It will continue to plague the rest of mankind, irrevocably perhaps . . . . and despite psychiatry having for the most part, asserted itself as the privileged language of survival.

Prior to the wisdom of medicine, depression was merely a fact of life. People became depressed, or aged, or matured with it, quite complacently. Today, depression has more than one clinical label. . . . more than one brand of anti-depressants to combat it. The consequences are somewhat ironically the same. Either the anti-depressant works and the side effects trigger a new realm of depression, or the drug does not work and one's state of depression becomes even more clinical. Or abysmal!

A child's world, on the other hand, is naively free from the overwhelming clouds of depression. So too that of a lunatic, because naivety allows one to view reality without any social, political or economic prejudices. Herein, perhaps, lies the distinction between sanity and insanity. The former -- through the pigments of stress -- induces depression; the latter simply inoculates one from it. It is no mystery then, that at any given time, the sane are more prone to committing suicide than the insane.

It is as though in having been drawn into the realm of existence -- without first being given the option of exercising a choice -- that we suddenly realize we are in this irreversible bind to either morally survive, or incur the ignominy of having to end one's life on the common-sensical grounds of no longer being able to take any more of life, or from life.

Unfulfilled love, for instance, has induced depression and untimely death no less than premature wealth and success has. The legend goes on. There are heroes among the living and the dead. Heroes among those who lived their lived valiantly to the end, and heroes among those who stood in fatal judgement of themselves.

The quandary deepens: Is life necessary if it becomes abundantly unnecessary, unfulfilled, and unrealistic? Will humanity, through its glaring shades of disparity, continue to play upon one another's depression or profiteer from it? Is there ever going to be a point in our evolution, when need becomes abolished from the vocabulary of survival?

In the clout of these troubling questions, the most effective realization, perhaps, is acknowledging the fact that depression is as illusive as death. It inevitably occurs, and neither wealth nor power nor fame is an effective deterrent. From the poet who lived in seclusion and was immortalized in death to the rockstar who rocked the world with his lilting notes and lyrics, it occurs, inevitably!

To some, however, faith might be a potent antidote to depression. To others, it might be alcoholism. Still to some others, it might be in adapting a stern attitude of giving nothing to life and expecting nothing from it. Whatever the case be, humanity in general, is a mighty vessel of life, drifting in time's ocean, and seasonally battered by the lurking waves of depression. And indispensably somehow, we happen to be all aboard, milling about in it together. . . . from deck to deck, and from porthole to porthole!

June 12, 1994