Friday, March 29, 2013

Depression can look just plain mean

Lindy West's Ladies Be Moody: The Sad Sack Women of Anti-Depressant Commercials makes a few excellent points, but this is my favorite: depression does not only manifest as low-energy sadness that saps you of your will to get out of bed. That's one way it can appear, but really depression  can have a wide range of symptoms.

I've let depression sneak up on me because I've fallen victim to advertisements that show a sad slumpy depressed woman (depressed men don't show up as much). Such images suggest that depression means sadly not engaging in life at all. How could I be depressed when I was showering every day, holding down a job, seeing friends on weekends and wearing clothes with color?

Some years ago my poor husband had to live for months and months with a woman who was becoming increasingly shrill and critical, started each day with loud complaints and was extremely energetic in her unhappiness. Depressed? I wasn't depressed. I was pissed!

I wanted my co-workers to stop making small talk, god dammit. I wanted assholes in the street to stop looking at me. I wanted the goddamn phone to stop ringing. I wanted all these slow walkers to get out the fuck of my way RIGHT NOW. I didn't want to have to return anyone's damn smile ever again.

Well, duh. Anger is a major symptom of depression and it can knock people down, literally and figuratively. It has been suggested that one reason so many more women are diagnosed with depression than men is that men express more rage when they're depressed and that just isn't what we expect depression to look like.

Depression strains relationships, but not just because the moody partner refuses to get dressed. There are different kinds of behaviors that make depressives hard to deal with including irritability, restlessness and lopping people's heads off. We start fights. We disappear outside of the house. We constantly criticize everything and everyone. We act like we just can't be bothered with anyone because we are way too important.

There are all kinds of ugly that can come out of depression. Don't believe those ridiculous, monochromatic commercials that show droopy eyed women staring into space and ignoring the dog. I've struggled with depression for decades and it comes in all flavors.

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