On Depression Today
Updated: Sep 2, 2020
By Sofia Forman, MA, Psy.D Candidate, RP (Qualifying)
Close to none of us makes it through the passage from birth to death without some taste of depression. Some of us are painfully aware of the debilitating impact depression has on a loved one or close friend, for some of us it was a situation-specific personal experience, perhaps at the start or end of university, or at the untimely passing of someone dear to us. Not limited to chronic or diagnostic presence, for some of us the essence of depression may seep into our psyche for a mere 48 hours every few months, experienced as lacking motivation, pervasive self-criticism, or simply the weight of being human and, to some extent, alone.
The pace and values of the twenty-first century almost beg us to succumb to depression, not the least of which are exemplified by the social media craze. However, the past few months have tested all of us beyond what we are used to. Almost all of us have been impacted financially, and for some among us, this has greatly impacted our lifestyle and sense of security. We have all been challenged by isolation, whether we isolated alone, or with family members – each one seeming equally challenging, if in different ways. Many among us have questioned whether we would keep our jobs, whether our industries as a whole could survive this. We have feared for our own safety and health. There were moments when we didn’t know what food would be available to us, triggering our most primal chemical and emotional responses.
Perhaps most challenging has been the insidious role of uncertainty. Is this getting better or worse. Are numbers rising or decreasing? Are we reopening businesses too soon? Will schools open? Should I let a friend in my home, wash my groceries, avoid public transit, tell my friends and family that I disagree with their choices, factor in their feelings about my choices, etc etc. Is there even a “normal” for us to return to, or is it gone because we will forever have been altered by what we have collectively experienced. So much uncertainty, isolation, and the drifting away of much of what gave each of our daily lives structure. We are almost like organs without bones to give the body shape at this point. We know not where to go.
Many of us are aware of the signs of depression, and its counterpoint, anxiety. Are we sleeping less well, eating less well, less socially engaged or communicative, less active, more preoccupied. Do we feel emotionally shut down or perpetually tense? Is our weight changing, are we no longer taking pleasure in things we previously enjoyed? If we are conscious enough, and committed to self-care enough to notice such changes, we are then left with the question of what to do about them. This is yet another example of uncertainty and the frequent inability to motivate action is certainly understandable.
Here’s what we can do: we can do what we are capable of and let that be a beginning. We can go for a walk, or put on a song and sing aloud to it. We can write a friend a letter, we can dance or stretch. We can buy all of the ingredients for a recipe and see it through. We can accept the feelings we are having, welcome them, and trust that they will shift. We can seek out the support of a trained professional or join a support group. We can ask someone we trust for help. We can say “this is hard and I’m tired of it.”