Alex: What’s your “definition” of depression?
Addy: For my definition of depression you need to look beyond the common associations with the word…’I was depressed for a few days with all the stress of uni,’ or ‘Man, it’s so depressing that XXX and I broke up,’…depression for me is a mental state which exists for a prolonged period of time that affects EVERY area of their life. Mentally, physically and emotionally!
It impairs the ability to think, work, emote, exercise, everything some people take for granted – it affects all the things we do and want to do, even to the point that we are doing exactly what makes us happy yet happiness is not felt. It’s not something which can be snapped out of or fixed with a few self help books.
It is an illness which destroys lives and people need to start understanding it far more.
Alex: What’s the difference between depression and bi-polar?
Addy: The depression for bipolar can be illustrated by merely looking at the alternative diagnosis for clinical depression, which is “unipolar depression”.
In other words, depression has ‘one pole’ – which is that of feeling down, sad, completely pointless in life, desiring death because nothing feels good.
Whereas bipolar – which is having two poles – means you get twice the fun, so to speak! As well as dealing with the utter downs of depression you also get the extreme highs of mania, a state where you feel you’re one of the greatest people to have ever lived. You mind races with ideas, everything looks rosy, your sex drive goes through the roof, you don’t need food or drink and you have limitless energy.
Both poles with bipolar are extremely dangerous, and the differences between the two illnesses are abundant, but then so are the similarities.
Alex: Can depressed people “succeed” in life?
Addy: Hell yeah!
Well known people who suffered from depression include:
Abraham Lincoln, Joanna Lumley, Kim Wilde, Paula Yates, Dyan Cannon (Singer), Dorothy Parker (author), Virginia Woolf (author), Sir Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale, John Cleese, Tony Hancock (comedian), Sergei Rachmaninoff (composer), Clara Bow (1920’s film star), Sarah Lancashire (actress), Trisha Goddard (tv presenter), Denise Welch (actress), Zach Braff (actor)
Then there’s bipolar:
Spike Milligan, Nicola Pagett (actress), Vivien Leigh (actress) Jeremy Brett (actor), Freddie Starr (comedian), Sir James Goldsmith (businessman), Jess Yates (Tv presenter father of Paula yates), Vincent Van Gogh, Robert Schumann (composer), Ludwig Van Betthoven, Stephen Fry (actor, comedian, raconteur)
Are you telling me these people didn’t succeed in life???
Alex: Does it make sense to say that society “causes” depression?
Addy: Is society the sole cause of depression? No.
Does society contribute to the causes of depression, YES. Merely because very few members of society know what depression is.
A lot of people are so hung up on it being a ‘weakness’ or ‘personality trait’ or ‘something someone needs to just snap out of’ that they refuse to see it as an illness. As mentioned earlier it’s the common misconception that depression is merely a passing period of the blues which causes the problem.
The stigma attached to admitting you suffer from it, or any mental illness, is HUGE. It can (and has) cost people their entire life! Jobs, family, friends, lovers, posessions, dreams, futures.
So it’s not really society itself which is causing depression but the misconceptions within society, which is what I have been trying to do with my blog. Raise awareness of mental health, show people that those suffering from mental illness are not weak – but in fact are so so very strong!
Alex: Is depression something that “follows” creativity around?
Addy: Much like with my answer to question 3, so many of the most creative minds you can think of have suffered from depression and/or bipolar at various times in their life that it has become a little “in” to say that bipolar (especially) is the creative illness. In fact it’s become almost popular to suffer from bipolar that it is trivialising the seriousness of the illness.
More needs to be done to understand the illnesses – and more importantly, the PEOPLE who suffer from them – rather than just throwing labels on people.
Alex: What else would you like to add?
Addy: Much more work needs to be done to understand that people who suffer from mental illness are just that – PEOPLE. We are no more to blame for our illnesses than people who have diabetes, cancer or HIV. The misconceptions, judgements and labelling needs to stop. It’s about time the stigma of mental illness gets the spanking it so rightly deserves! So drop by the blog and get to know ME, as well as learn a whole lot more about my life than you might want to know.