Dear Annie: This is in response to “Regretful Mom,” who says she was a neglectful mother and her adult children cut her out of their lives. Depression is a very serious problem, but can be overcome with self-reflection and a determination that life can be more joyful and happy. Brain chemistry can be changed with a change in diet, exercise, changing thought processes and with the knowledge that God loves you and wants you to be healthy mentally, emotionally and physically.
Forty years ago I suffered from depression because of a failed marriage and an overwhelming feeling that I would never be happy again. Before marriage, I had been happy, so what had changed? I grew up with a strong sense of God’s presence in my life but years of negative emotions and feelings of worthlessness took its toll.
I changed my diet, started taking vitamin B complex for stress, exercised and did yoga regularly, went back to church and surrounded myself with positive people, thoughts and the things I loved and needed. Gradually, I worked my way out of my depression. It won’t happen overnight, but little by little, “Regretful” will become an example of positive behavior for her children, and they may come back around. She needs to get busy making new memories and a great life for herself and her children. — Blessed and Happy Woman
Dear Blessed: These are all wonderful tips for improving one’s mood and overall health, alongside the counsel of a doctor. (c) Annie Lane
Wow, that’s… offensive. Annie Lane is up to her old tricks, people. She’s letting her readers write in and essentially write her column for her–and she’s not even doing a good job of it!
[…] alongside the counsel of a doctor.
Was that thrown in at the last minute as a disclaimer of sorts? Groan.
One thing I’ve never understood is that there are different stigmas for different mental illnesses:
- Depression–you could get over it if you tried hard enough. You’ve got a bad attitude! Lift yourself out of it, you weakling. Everyone fails a test on occasion.
See, the weird thing is that no one ever orders someone with schizophrenia or bipolar to do that. It’s sort of the opposite…
- Schizophrenia–please don’t get mad! I don’t want you to become violent and attack me! Where are you hiding your artillery?
[I’m making faces here. If only you guys could see it.]
- Bipolar–quit creating drama! You get off on the drama, you drama-seeking drama queen!
[I’m still making faces.]
So, whatever stigma we deal with is different from one mental illness to another. When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, it came as a huge relief. Prior to that point, everyone assumed I was “just” depressed (and that’s not my emphasis–that’s the stigma putting “just” in quotation marks). And so people had always told me to try to have a better attitude, and to “lift myself up by my bootstraps,” and to make a bigger effort with diet and exercise and my sleep schedule, and so forth, thinking I was “just” depressed.
So when I was diagnosed with schizophrenia (schizoaffective disorder: bipolar type, to be more specific), my mental illness was suddenly taken seriously (or more seriously). But it still wasn’t taken as seriously as it should’ve been.
When I moved home from Georgia and was living here with my dad, he kept urging me to find a new job.
“The Evil Spirits won’t let me,” I’d intone in response. And I was dead serious about it. Then I’d yell at him for waving to strangers: “Could you quit drawing attention to us? Those people are watching me.” You’d think he would’ve realized that I was too ill to work. Like, geez, how mentally ill do I have to become before my family realizes and acknowledges that there’s a serious problem here?!
But my other point is that depression itself should also be taken seriously. It really should be. It shouldn’t be “just” depression. The problem is that depression is associated with a lot of lifestyle happenings: getting dumped, losing your job, grieving the loss of a loved one, and on and on; and anyone who’s managed to overcome such a thing (like today’s letter writer) scoffs at people who can’t rise above it due to, um, BRAIN CHEMISTRY. (Sorry, it makes me angry.) It’s like, depression has this association of being attitude-based, but in reality, if your brain chemistry is depressed, you can’t overcome it with vitamin-B supplements and a positive attitude.
The letter writer wrote:
Brain chemistry can be changed with a change in diet, exercise, changing thought processes and with the knowledge that God loves you and wants you to be healthy mentally, emotionally and physically.
Uh…. okay. I’m going to wave a magic wand today and alter my brain chemistry. Then I’ll go off my meds! Run! Just run!
If you all remember my former friend, Ash, I should probably mention that it’s good that she and I aren’t friends anymore. She firmly believed that illness doesn’t exist and that medications help in a placebo sense, but not otherwise. I sort of get offended when people think my meds are helping me only because I believe they are. It’s science! Let’s not discount science.
God bless Annie Lane and her infinite idiocy. I’m wondering which of her editors or other people suggested she add on this part:
[…] alongside the counsel of a doctor.
I mean, she’s just not capable of giving good advice… not about anything!