Friday, February 18, 2011

a different cancer

I overheard a colleague today talking about various illnesses she's been diagnosed with. They've caused her suffering beyond the physical, and she was relieved to find a doctor who could treat them - and validate them.

"People think they're all in your head," she explained to her listener.

But what if the illness is in your head? What if you experience depression?

If you experience depression, you routinely make the kind of mistakes that get you marginalized, that hold you back at work, that act like speed bumps on the road to success and happiness. You can't think clearly, your emotions are bigger than your ability to reason, and everything - even the small stuff - seems more meaningful to you than it does to the people around you. I can't count the times I've heard that I'm overreacting.

It's embarrassing, frankly. I look back at some of the ways I've behaved in the past and I wish I could disappear. I think about how others perceive me and I compensate by trying too hard to make people 'like' me or by avoiding personal contact altogether.

I'm too old to be acting so foolishly, I often think. I'm too old to be starting yet another entry level position, I'm too old to be living more like a student than a homeowner.

Depression has stunted my growth and that's something no doctor can treat.

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