I have a friend, let’s call him D.J., and his wife suffers from depression. D.J. also has marital problems. So when he complains about his wife, he usually adds things in about her depression that in his opinion, make her lazy, not want to search for a good paying job, not take care of the kids properly, and not understand the importance of money. It’s at this point he usually compares his wife’s depression to everyone else who is depressed and considers depression to be all the same.
D.J. really offends me with his attitude. First, every person experiences and handles depression differently. My depression wasn’t caused by the same things that made his wife depressed. Her situation as a married woman with children doesn’t reflect mine. Even if the issues we each bring into the darkness are exactly the same, her and my experience with depression depends totally upon how we individually cope with our issues. She will have a different outlook on how to handle something than me. She may want to use vitamins and exercise while I will use cognitive therapy and medication.
Second, there are many levels of depression. I’m severely depressed. D.J.’s wife is mildly depressed and can function better in society than me. Certainly there are similar experiences shared by people who are severely depressed, but the depth and perception of pain even at that one level makes the experience different for everyone. That’s why treatment has to be individualized. A suicidal person at this level might not wait till hitting rock bottom. Or the suicidal person might realize life is worthwhile and be coming out of the darkness while still labelled as severely depressed.
Third, depression does not mean you are lazy, don’t want to work or have a job, not want to take care of your kids, or that you don’t understand the importance of money in this world. Saying this stuff when you have lived with a depressed person for years and should know what depression is about really upsets me. It isn’t about not understanding depression at this point. It’s about being hurtful, spiteful and full of resentment and possibly rage.
Depression doesn’t make you lazy. It makes you tired beyond anything you could imagine. You would love to have money to be able to pay the bills, live in your house, and buy food but your lack of energy literally makes you unable to hold a permanent job. Meltdowns, crying on the job, working like a zombie is what can happen to depressed people who try to continue working. Sometimes the strain will even cause suicide. As for the importance of money, yes you need it to function in this world but it doesn’t compare to the importance of fighting for your life.
D.J. needs to recognize what’s depression and what’s marital problems. He should also stop putting everyone into one bucket.