Living with Depression

“I can’t remember the last time I was happy. I have never been happy for 24 hours straight, ever in my life”. These are the words of ‘Paul’, a 40 year old university graduate who has been battling depression for most of his adult life.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than 300 million people living with depression, an increase of more than 18 per cent between 2005 and 2015. The WHO states that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.

Depression is just one of the many common mental disorders that affect a significant percentage of the Jamaican population. Data shows that one in every four Jamaicans will experience some form of mental disorder throughout hi/her lifetime.

Depression can begin just about any age and can have serious implications for the depressed person as well as for his/her family. Nonetheless, there is a distinction to be made between the daily emotional challenges of life and the short-lived sadness which are a direct response to such stresses.

Recently, Paul and I sat down in Kingston for a discussion. He vividly recalls not wanting to attend school in grade 6. While many of us can fondly remember our days in primary school which was characterized by a state of happiness and excitement at the thought of attending high school, the opposite was true for Paul.

His life of depression was just beginning to take root and would haunt him ever since. Paul’s tone changed from one of eagerness to one of subdued caution as he brought to mind the many days of feeling sad during his primary school days. “I felt like I just had to deal with it, there was nuttin I could do, I couldn’t fight so I just dealt with it. I didn’t know I could tell my parents. Even if I did, I am sure they would not have done nuttin”.

Persons who are depressed do not walk around with a placard announcing this fact. The face of depression is that face that looks back at you when you look in the mirror. Depressed people look like you and me. Many depressed persons manage to hold down a job while fighting the demon of depression. Sadly, not many depressed persons have been so diagnosed.

Paul, however, was diagnosed with depression in his 20’s. The stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness often serve as barriers to treatment. These hurdles frequently prevent those who experience the symptoms from getting medical intervention necessary to adequately manage this medical condition.

In many instances, our association with mental health comes from seeing an insane person on the road eating from a garbage bin. This perception of mental illness needs to be interrogated and brought into reality that a vast number of mental disorder persons do not live like this. Whether we choose to believe or not, in every family there is at least one depressed individual.

The American Psychiatry Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM -5) defines depression as a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. The symptoms of depression identified by DSM- 5 include being in a depressed mood most of the day characterized by sadness, emptiness or hopelessness; irritability or frustration, lost of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as hobbies, sleep disturbances, whether increase or decrease sleep, frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, and trouble thinking, concentrating or remembering things.

Paul is no exception to the rule and during the talk, he mentioned having suicidal thoughts on a number of occasions. He spoke candidly about the desire to die in a car accident. He has come to the realization that his driving has become reckless in recent times when he is alone. He stated that his appetite is not what it used to be. He has lost interest in food which is another common symptom of clinical depression.

Paul said that the depression has worsened as he has gotten older. He is now forced to write down all he needs to do daily as the depression has affected his concentration and memory. A lack of interest in most things around him is yet another sign of depression which Paul has and continues to experience. He is often up late into the night, as he has difficulty falling and or staying asleep. This sleep disturbance is also a typical symptom of depression.

According to Paul, there is usually a trigger for his depression. His lifelong phobia of public speaking is one such. A simple unavailability of public parking space is another of his triggers. The concern about his financial standing and loneliness are also triggers of depression for Pau who bemoans the fact that there are not enough public health facilities in Jamaica to address the needs and concerns of those who are living with depression.

He recalls that the doctor who diagnosed him as being depressed referred to him to a psychiatrist. He visited the facility on three occasions and was unable to see the psychiatrist despite having an appointment. Paul added that while there are more professionals in the private sector to treat depression and mental illness, the cost associated with seeing a psychiatrist can be prohibitive for the average Jamaican.

Depression is an illness like any other medical condition and need the attention of those trained to treat it. The consensus in the field of mental health is that the best treatment is medication plus therapy. Here are some somber, confirming words of Adam Ant: “I have suffered from depression for most of my life. It is an illness.”.

(Wayne Campbell is a Jamaican educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues. Email: waykam@yahoo.com)

18 Responses to Living with Depression

  1. Kevin Cave
    Kevin Cave April 25, 2017 at 11:06 am

    This is what happens when live a life without knowing the purpose of being alive.

    Yes I said it.

    Reply
    • Marsha Hinds
      Marsha Hinds April 25, 2017 at 11:16 am

      Because you said it does not mean it isn’t tripe you said.

      Reply
    • Angel Blossoms
      Angel Blossoms April 25, 2017 at 11:31 am

      It’s not even living just existing sorry for this person hope he /she seek help. I knew someone like this and would constantly threatened to commit suicide.

      Reply
    • Nita Beckles
      Nita Beckles April 25, 2017 at 11:34 am

      You opened your mouth and intolerance escaped!

      Reply
    • Kevin Cave
      Kevin Cave April 25, 2017 at 11:43 am

      Idgaf what people say against my opinion, it’s mine and I own it.

      Yall are the ones that are always clueless as to why this or that is happening in the world, but as someone opens their mouth with a possible explanation, yall bend down to pick up stones to throw.

      Here’s a thought, throw them at yall clueless selves.

      Continue living in oblivion.

      Reply
    • Kevin Cave
      Kevin Cave April 25, 2017 at 11:46 am

      Angel Blossoms, I know of people like that to, guess what they all have in common, they reject a higher calling and they don’t see the purpose of life.

      Always asking why we only live to work and pay bills, cause that’s what weighs heavy on their mind.

      Reply
    • Nita Beckles
      Nita Beckles April 25, 2017 at 11:55 am

      You also have a possible answer for world hunger, cancer, poverty, famine etc. Why hold back on being helpful and saving the entire world from its self Mr. Cave. There’s no greater fool than one who pretends to know it all. Ijs.

      Reply
    • Nita Beckles
      Nita Beckles April 25, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      And are you implying that depression only effects the poor? And you’re calling others clueless?

      Reply
    • Kevin Cave
      Kevin Cave April 25, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Nita your ignorance is beyond simple comprehension, why would you hurt yourself asking complex questions or making complex statements.

      Do you believe everything you were told?

      Do you believe there isn’t a cure for cancer?
      Or do you believe that the government(s) have your best interest at heart?
      Do you believe that we came from monkeys?
      Do you believe that Columbus was an Explorer?
      Do you believe that we world is a ball?
      Do you believe that the royal family should be honored for what they have done?
      Do you believe that what they have done is noble?

      There’s a big difference between people like me and people like you, people like you believe everything that is feed to them once administered in the right way, not so with people like myself, if the maths isn’t right and there is no proof or evidence, we will ask questions and once an error is found we will not comply.

      The thing about what you made fun at is this, if you were to receive the truth on those matters, you would burry your head in fear and continue living your pointless life.

      Don’t ask for what you’re not willing to deal with.

      Reply
    • Anfaani Henry
      Anfaani Henry April 25, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      what does that mean? knowing the purpose of being alive and being depressed are oxymorons. can you elaborate or are you just a troll who crawled up from d gully…come on Bajans leh we push he back under de rock he did crawl from under

      Reply
    • Kevin Cave
      Kevin Cave April 25, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      If I purposed that you can hear colors and taste sound what would be your reaction Anfaani?

      You would insult me based on your understanding, so why bother trying to initiate such a conversation.

      As for something so simple as becoming depressed because one’s life seem so purposeless and burdened, I thought that would be elementary.

      Yall people are stuck on sentiment which causes ya’ll to lose prospective of practicality and reality.

      Reply
    • Anfaani Henry
      Anfaani Henry April 25, 2017 at 6:20 pm
      Reply
    • Earl Lashley
      Earl Lashley April 25, 2017 at 6:32 pm

      My man, no one came into this life with a purpose, you have to find that purpose. And your level of intelligence will determine that purpose. If you believe not, then a child who is the product of rape or incest was put here for a purpose.

      Reply
    • Kevin Cave
      Kevin Cave April 25, 2017 at 7:17 pm

      Man kind has really lost its way.
      Smh 🙁 🙁 🙁

      So Earl when you look in the mirror you don’t see intelligent design?

      Do you honestly believe that a being as sophisticated as the human exist without a purpose or reason?

      Reply
    • Crystalene Alexander
      Crystalene Alexander April 25, 2017 at 7:43 pm

      Like ppl just respond and jump on every comment for “likes” and a need to be heard! !!…
      Learn to reeeaaadddd with understanding nuh!!!!

      Reply
    • Nita Beckles
      Nita Beckles April 25, 2017 at 9:17 pm

      What I’m simply saying to you Mr.Cave! If you have knowledge of these things please share with us. Put forth something, don’t just demean and insult. And for those of us who can read and understand, it would be helpful if you could just explain what he’s saying. You know us uneducated folks have a hard time with reading comprehension…

      Reply
  2. Bonita Weekes
    Bonita Weekes April 25, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Oh come on, you don’t really understand what depression is, it’s not something you can turn on and off, it’s an illness. I know of a person who as you say had purpose, helped others was one of the nicest people but as an adult suffered with chronic depression, he eventually died, his mother also suffered with from it. Depression is not feeling just feeling a bit down, we have been taught to take care of the physical but to ignore the mental. None of us know if we will ever have to face it. There are women who experience post partum depression after giving birth, with most it doesn’t last long but I know a young woman who has not been able to live a normal after having 2 children. It has nothing to do with just how you feel, it is real, just hope that you will never have to go through it.

    Reply
  3. Melanie Trotman
    Melanie Trotman April 25, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Dario Reed

    Reply

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