The Myth of Depression

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As you may remember, after the NOKWID project several years ago, I crashed, hard, spent several months deep in depression. And I just now finally feel like I’ve climbed out of that hole, a hole I had ironically dug for myself.

I felt forever tired, forever useless, forever a burden on my family. Nothing gave me pleasure, no joy, no motivation, and I didn’t care. At one point, I even contemplated what steps I would need to take in order to make a strategic exit from this life. (Fortunately, there were too many steps, too complicated.) Oy vey! It makes sense that a demoralizing job might get me down. But that’s supposed to be temporary, not life-destroying.

Then, through the work of Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell, I found I could take steps toward rediscovering the joy and motivation I had lost from my life.

Employee-awareness poster for the City of Houston Public Works Department
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I love the advice Dave Ramsey gave to one woman caller on a recent episode of his radio show (June 28, 2012, after the 1:45 break). Her husband had been laid off and had lost all drive even to look for work. And every time she brought up the subject, she felt like he just threw it back in her face, because he really couldn’t care less, because he’d lost his hope. Dave’s advice to him: (1) turn off the TV; (2) get up early, exercise, shower, and get dressed, every day; (3) read something encouraging every day; (4) read something about his business or industry every day.

Profound.

Not the view you might have had of depression. And in that spirit, here are a number of myths people have regarding depression:

Unfortunately, these myths are sometimes even propagated by psychologists.

If I have a toothache, I go to the dentist. And he tells me, “Okay, now, here’s what we’re going to do. I need you to come in every week, and every week I’m going to bang on your sore tooth for an hour with this hammer.” And he shows me the hammer. “But don’t expect any improvement until at least 3 to 6 months of treatment.” And at this point, I’m thinking it’s time to find a different dentist.

But I’ve heard of people accepting that answer from their psychologist, because they don’t know any better. And they sit hour after hour, spewing their emotional crap all over the floor, and then rolling around in it, and then everyone is amazed that they don’t feel any better. Now, I am not a psychologist, but I have wrestled with depression, and I can tell you, I would not be amazed. Fortunately, psychologists know more about depression now than they used to, and they’re learning more about the human mind every year.

The most important thing to know is not to lose hope, because hope is the antidote to depression.

-TimK

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