A couple of months ago, a blogger asked what the hardest part about being frugal was. I answered by saying that my health problems.
Obviously, there’s the limitations from fatigue. But depression plays a huge role, too. Depression magically makes everything a Herculean effort. Basic tasks become insurmountable obstacles.
I know I could have just said something like, “Oh, saying no to the junk food that’s so expensive.” But I’m tired of censoring myself.
The hardest part of frugality for me is depression. As it cycles, I can have a ton of energy, or I can be in an emotional fetal position. The latter has gotten better with medication management, but the possibility is always there.
In a reply to this message, a woman said she was glad I had mentioned it. It had been her first thought, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to mention it.
In a time when antidepressant commercials are almost as plentiful as ones about toilet paper or kids’ snacks, why are we still so reticent about depression? Why are we ashamed? Why do so few “normal” people have any clue what it really means to be depressed?
Would you hesitate to tell someone you had pneumonia? Would you worry that people would judge you for it?
Then again, nobody preaches about how pneumonia medicine is over-prescribed. Nobody says, “You know, I had a bad cough once. Doc wanted to put me on meds. But I just waited it out and everything was fine!”
If no one would talk that way about pneumonia, why is it okay to say it about depression? Because we let them, of course.
Depressives are convinced that others won’t like them if the “real” them ever came out. Somehow, we become convinced that we’re bad people — or at least so graspingly, desperately needy that we’ll drive everyone away with that.
So who would want to admit to being depressed? Isn’t that just admitting to being an unworthy, unlovable person?
They don’t get it
These days people are far more aware of depression. It’s even more socially acceptable… in theory. But even if they don’t squirm at the mention of the condition, mentally healthy people still don’t really know what it means to be depressed.
Part of the problem: There’s a language gap. Simple English doesn’t properly convey our difficulties to non-depressives. We can only tell people that things are “hard” or “difficult” or “overwhelming.” But they often have trouble connecting those words to the tasks we’re describing: phone calls, deciding what to eat (let alone preparing meals), etc.
It’s made even worse by the fact that sometimes we don’t get it. Many depressives don’t realize they have the condition. Perhaps they’re in denial. Perhaps they just don’t know any better. After all, we only get the one brain. If that’s the way it’s always worked, you wouldn’t know that it’s not working correctly.
It’s understandable, but it makes depression even harder to actually understand. How can you describe symptoms you don’t notice? How do you get help when you don’t realize you need it?
Emotions make things uncomfortable
If I had asthma, I would never be ashamed of it. I would never hesitate to mention it, afraid that people would judge me and my life.
Yet I don’t like admitting I’m a depressive — even on the Internet. So you imagine how painful it is to talk about it in person.
I get weepy talking about these subjects, and I don’t particularly like to get all teary-eyed around people. So I become uncomfortable, which just makes a matching set, since the other person rarely feels at-ease either.
Let’s face it, this society isn’t great at coping with serious emotions, especially not talking about them. Unless it’s a good friend and/or one-on-one, it’s just not going to fly.
Admitting you have a problem is the first step
I don’t like talking about my struggles. I’d prefer if you all thought of me as some suave woman who has it all together — that my rational or witty posts are the absolute embodiment of my personality.
Instead, I suck it up and own up to all ranges of my personality. The utter fragility, the anxiety, the aforementioned emotional fetal position I sometimes find myself in. Let’s not even touch the days when I miss my medications.
But I try to be honest about these thoughts and tics and quirks — these symptoms — to you because I hate it so much. When I feel so strongly about hiding them away, I know I have to talk about them. Because if I don’t, then who will?
And if I am so determined to break down some barriers — especially the ones that cause people (including myself) to think of these things as weaknesses — then I have to be willing to talk openly about things I’d rather not. About things like my brain’s misfires.
It’s shocking how little we all talk about the real experiences in our lives, even on these blogs. We share our goals and aspirations, our triumphs and failures. But they’re still so sanitized because we edit out the things that make us uncomfortable, the things we think will make our readers uncomfortable.
Maybe if we talked about it a little more, it wouldn’t be so uncomfortable. Or maybe everyone would be a little extra uncomfortable. But at least a conversation would’ve begun.
Do you have problems talking about your depression? If you’re not a depressive, do you get uncomfortable when people talk about their depression?