What it is like

Usually I would put a link like this over to the left under the Daily Links section, but I think it’s important enough to include here in the main content. A columnist for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Chris Rose, an admitted skeptic of depression, finds himself struggling to cope with overwhelming feelings of hopelessness after Hurricane Katrina and eventually comes to terms with the fact that he is suffering from a disease he did not believe existed. (Thanks, Margaret, for sending me this link)

I’m including it here because I get a lot of email from people who are the husband or the wife or sister or friend of someone who suffers depression, and they want to know what they can do to help. There is no fast answer to that, but the first step is to try and understand what depression is like for those who suffer from it, to stand by and not judge them for the maelstrom of crap going on in their heads.

A few excellent quotes from the column:

Hopeless, helpless and unable to function. A mind shutting down and taking the body with it. A pain not physical but not of my comprehension and always there, a buzzing fluorescent light that you can’t turn off.

No way out, I thought.

I had crying jags and fetal positionings and other “episodes.” One day last fall, while the city was still mostly abandoned, I passed out on the job, fell face first into a tree, snapped my glasses in half, gouged a hole in my forehead and lay unconscious on the side of the road for an entire afternoon.

You might think that would have been a wake-up call, but it wasn’t. Instead, like everything else happening to me, I wrote a column about it, trying to make it all sound so funny.

I hate being dependent on a drug. Hate it more than I can say. But if the alternative is a proud stoicism in the face of sorrow accompanied by prolonged and unspeakable despair — well, I’ll take dependency.

I can’t stress enough how eloquent this piece is. He nails it.