Depression, to an observer, is seen like this house. Everything looks good on the outside, no broken bones, or apparent injuries. In many cases, the depressed person looks like they are taking care of themselves physically. Sometimes the person also has the benefit of age and experience and this would suggest a level of wisdom and resilience. This pictured West End Vancouver house is owned by people of means, given the cost of single-family homes in the center of the city. Often the depressed person appears to have it ‘all together’ – a loving spouse, a family, as well as the advantages of education and means –maybe even ownership of this beautiful West End house.
Because of all of these advantages, the observer of depression will often be less than empathic, and somewhat oblivious to the true suffering that depression imparts. In fact, the observer is often suspicious of the purposes of the behaviors associated with depression. In some cases the outside observer (and this can also be employers) believe they are being ‘duped. ’ Depression, they may believe, is a way lazy people opt out of life, family responsibilities, or work!
Take another look at our picture of the West End house. Note that the covered windows on the first floor are the windows to the world. That is how depression is experienced. Depression invites the suffering person to withdraw from the world. Depression is initially satisfied with just imprisoning the person in the house. Once this is achieved, depression may set new goals, such as isolation of the person in his/her room. Depression has now taken away both the world and the family. Depression’s goal is to shut the person down (isolation makes the person’s world smaller and smaller). Depression, in some cases, will only be satisfied when the bed is the only world for the depressed person. In some other more extreme cases, the ultimate prize for depression is ‘no world’ – and suicide is chosen. Given the horror and the staggering feelings of helplessness associated with depression, …can this really be thought of as a choice for lazy people?
If you were to purchase this beautiful West End house, wise consumers would look below the surface to find out whether the image that is seen is actually true ….are we distracted by beauty, form, and external achievements of care?
Look carefully at the person who reduces their normal world, isolates themselves, and articulates a sense of hopelessness. Don’t let depression achieve its ultimate goal. If we don’t engage help beyond ourselves, as an observer of depression in our loved one, depression is empowered.
JUST A THOUGHT…
Arthur J. Rathgeber