I know I have covered this topic in some detail ages ago with my post called Having the “Sads” and Other Confusing Terminology…do take a look back if you are so inclined as I explain my own emotional well being descriptor words. But with today’s active conversation on the usage of some very important words in certain very specific arenas I felt the time was good for a bit of a refresher.
Of course, I must say this is all MY personal opinion born of our family’s attempt to normalize and understand how mental health has affected us and our future… and here I go.
Depression … I mean the word, what does it mean to you? Depressed, how do you use it? Is it a common word used to describe a vast series of emotional (and not so emotional) situations? Do you keep that word on reserve?
In our family the word depression/feeling depressed has been given a special weight to it. Now there is a reason for this… mental health is not a tangiable thing, you can’t see the illness, you can just see the effects.
I am sad that the ice cream fell off my cone, I can rally back with a new ice cream, a different treat, or the knowledge that this is just something that happened.
I am depressed when I cannot rally back, I cannot just pull myself out of what others perceive as a “funk”. I am fighting against a current (well not so much me, as this is not something I have personally experienced… but as Ken has explained it to me. And other likewise diagnosed friends), possibly stuck or sinking down. That is depressed.
I have often discussed with my kids the importance of proper word usage. The English language is an evolving language. It is our responsibility to realize that our words have power. It is our responsibility to try and understand that some of these words have gravity.
I want my children to know that if they come to me and say, “Mommy, I feel depressed, things aren’t right”. That I WILL take them seriously. I will take you, my reader, my friend, my family member, or even just someone who needs to say it seriously.
Depression is not spilled milk or a cancelled movie. Depression is heartbreak and soul tearing sadness and fear. It is suicidal thoughts and negative voices. It is serious and I want to respect that. I need to know that if Ken were to tell me he felt depressed I need to take it seriously.
I think this conversation is timely and worth repeating now especially. The holiday season (whatever you do or do not celebrate) is not jolly for all. Repeated reminders of joyous families, large gifts and happiness can have an opposite affect for some. So let’s hold onto the knowledge that if someone were to say the feel depressed right now… maybe, just maybe we can listen and make a difference.
I felt sad this past week because there is so much family togetherness going on right now and my dearest friends who are family and family are a country away. But I easily was able to rally with phone calls, cards posted and gifts finished and sent off. I was not depressed, I was sad and that is valid. Not using the word depressed for that situation does not invalidate the experience but it does (I find) help keep it in perspective.
So, I hope I have gotten the conversation rolling again. Let’s ensure that we are aware of our words… English has so many beautiful options for degrees of emotions.
And if you need to use the word depressed, depression, worse yet suicidal… speak up. If not to a therapist or religious guide, I am here and willing to listen. My family to yours… we love you all. Thank you for entering my dialogue and listening to what I have to say. All my love in the holidays to everyone!