Monday, November 30, 2009

Depression




“..a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity...”




Depression is indirectly the reason I live in Delaware. A longtime friend of mine suffered from depression when he worked in Philadelphia. He was depressed because he was living a life his mother wanted him to live. He had the white collar corporate job his mother expected of him. He kept his homosexuality in the closet, because he didn’t want to disappoint his mother. He was living his life as his mother expected him to live it. He was desperately unhappy. He was depressed.



To alleviate his depression he searched for a property far enough away from home where he could get away from his depression and the oppression of living his life as his mother expected him to live his life. He found a place in Sussex County, Delaware. The property was twenty-two acres of scrub woodland several miles on the outskirts of Georgetown, Delaware.



He bought a used single-wide mobile home that had seen better days. His new home didn’t have running water and was in the middle of nowhere. His real estate agent had told him “You’ll never see another house on this road in your lifetime.” None of that mattered to him. What mattered was that he now had the freedom to live without his mother constantly setting up dates with “nice girls” or asking him when he was going to get married. He had freedom. He could live as he pleased, even if only on the weekends or days off from his job in Philadelphia.



The only problem was that he continued to have his job in Philadelphia. During the week he would commute to Philadelphia from his home from a western suburb of Philadelphia. At the end of the day he said he could hardly move his legs walking into his house where he lived with his mother. Sometimes she would have a picture of a “nice girl” on the television and the girl’s phone number for him to call to make a date. He would collapse on the living room couch, exhausted.



His only release was the freedom he had when he would go to his home in Delaware. However, he was still depressed because he knew he was still trapped. He sought release through drinking binges. He would get plastered on the weekends at his place in Delaware. He drank to deal with his depression because he knew he was still trapped in a “lifestyle” someone else had dictated for him. He continued this cycle for many years until he decided to cut all ties to his previous life. He moved permanently to his single-wide in the hinterlands of Sussex County in 1984. His depression left and he gave up his drinking. Although he didn’t have much money, his life improved immediately. He had freedom.



He was my best friend I visited him often at his new home in Delaware. I was also in the trap of the corporate job in Philadelphia that I grew to dislike after the many bank mergers. However, I didn’t have the oppression of my Mother trying to get me married off because I came out with my homosexuality in 1964. I made the decision at that time to no longer live my life as others thought I should live my life. However, I was in a relationship that I had to needed a break from occasionally.



It was during those visits that I grew to love Delaware. Other friends would also visit my friend at his black and white, single wide trailer that didn’t have running water. We peed out the back door and took the Number Two in a brown grocery bag and threw it out in the woods.



At that time in the late 70’s there was the beginning of a growing gay presence in the Rehoboth Beach area. We all would look forward to those weekends at “The Ranch” (the tongue in cheek name we gave our friend’s single-wide.) We enjoyed the freedom just to be ourselves. While we all enjoyed going out to the local gay bars the camaraderie among friends was probably more enjoyable. My friend was no longer depressed. He threw off the yoke of oppression that is living up to someone else’s expectations of how someone else should live your life.



Those years I visited my friend I often thought I would like to someday move to Delaware. I’ve always liked living near the ocean and I wanted to live in wide open spaces. The flat coastal plains of Sussex County, Delaware were very appealing to me. The growing gay community around the Rehoboth Beach area was also a factor. While I loved the rolling hills and winding roads of Pennsylvania, the homophobic attitude of some my neighbors and the high taxes eventually drove me from living in a conservative suburb of Pennsylvania.



Thus, it was during a visit to my friend in November of 2005 when I looked at a model house that I decided to move to Delaware. Although selling my house and the move was traumatic I have never regretted moving to Delaware. That’s not to say that the past three years since I lived in Delaware has been smooth, it hasn’t. But never once, not once during that period have I been depressed.



I think the major source of depression is the feeling that you are trapped. It is the feeling that everything is closing in on you.



I have another good friend whom I have known many years. Recently he has been sinking into depression. His situation is different. He has a job that he likes but management has changed and his integrity is being questioned. He works in an upscale clothing store unloading stock. He loves his job. It was part-time. His co-workers like him and he likes them. However, since the economy has taken a downtown, the new management is placing some of the blame on staff. Hours are being changed, new jobs are being assigned including one which he doesn’t like, cashier. He doesn’t want to be a cashier. Now he is required to have someone accompany him to the dumpster when he takes out his flattened out cardboard boxes. When he leaves work he has to leave with his pockets pulled inside out. He feels trapped. He is depressed.



Other people in my life are depressed. My Mother is depressed. My new found blog friend from Scotland is depressed. A long time friend of mine who I worked with at my job in Philadelphia was so depressed she went into her ten year old daughter’s bedroom and blew her brains out. I can’t help but think that the main cause of depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. I have come to this conclusion because I have other friends who have had very traumatic things happen in their life yet they remain upbeat and optimistic. I will write about these friends in future blog posting on this subject.

4 comments:

  1. I wouldn't say I was suffering from Depression at the moment. Perhaps slightly borderline, but I'm aware of what's happening.

    I've had an on-off relationship with depression all my adult life. The more often you suffer from it, the greater your chances of falling into it again.

    Reasons are multiple, varied and complex, and are not always the same from one person to the next, nor even from one bout to the next within the same person.

    My last severe depression followed the onset of Chronic Fatigue. Unfortunately, some of the doctors I saw thought the CFS was caused by the depression, even though I was acutely aware it was the other way round. After 25 years of dealing with it, I know what's going on.

    When it was discovered that I still had the CFS after the depression was dealt with, no apologies were made, only a shrug of the shoulders.

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  2. Kim,
    Thank you for your explanation. The more I hear about the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I think I may have it. For years I didn't know I had allergies. It thought a runny nose and sneezing were a way of life, since I had done it all my life. It wasn't until about eight years ago I started to take anti-allergy medicine that I noticed my symptoms disappeared overnight.

    I know now I just push myself somedays to get moving. The energy I used to have as a young man was gone. I chalked that up to getting older. Maybe it is something else.

    I will read your older blog posts on CFS to learn more about it.

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  3. Ron,
    Not all depressions are necessarily a chemical imbalance. On my last post I talk about the National Institutes definitions of depression, which are:
    Major Depressive Disorder
    Dysthymic Disorder
    Psychotic Depression
    Postpartum Depression
    Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
    Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness)

    Some of these may or may not involve chemical imbalances. Bipolar does, and as you know my wife has that and is fine as lone as she keeps on her medication.

    However, those are the medical depressions. According to the dictionary depression is: A.) a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder, B.) a state of feeling sad: dejection.

    In the last few months I have had several changes in things around me, with my parents, my job, my church, that have affected me emotionally, financially and spiritually. It has been a perfect storm in a sense.

    I am in agreement with you statement about your friend's depression being, at least partly, a result of others controlling his life. In a sense, this is where I am. Events I had no control over came together to control my life. This resulted in a sense of sadness because it as a feeling of entrapment. However, it also makes one reevaluate whether they have fallen into a lull, and look at how they can gain back control and move on to where they should be.

    I think I am in the middle of this evaluation and flux and am beginning to slowly crawl out from under my cloud.

    I did get an inner chuckle yesterday since my boss had to accompany me to the compacter in a steady rain. She didn't find it a pleasant experience. She thinks this accompanying me is as silly as I do.

    Lar

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  4. Lar,
    I read
    with great interest your comments on depression. I didn't know there were that many different kinds of depression. The one type of depression that you mentioned I think I suffer on occasion. It is the depression of sadness and dejection.

    Both of us recently have had events enter our life which caused us to lose some control over aspects of our life.

    I can't help but feel sad and dejected when my good nature is looked upon as a weakness to be mocked, insulted and bullied.

    You understand because you have been in this same position. All we can do is continue on and find the humor in the situation such as your boss getting wet in the rain yesterday when she accompanied you to the compacter. Once we start seeing the humor it makes us realize that life is more than these small bumps in the road of our Life's Journey.

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments Larry. They're always appreciated.

    Ron

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