I’ve never been able to tell the difference between feeling depressed or just feeling sorry for myself. Now this is not a professional article. This a professional rant. So please excuse any grammatical faux pas. Or the fact that I may bounce around as these ideas are currently circulating through my depressed/feeling sorry for myself brain.
I’ve never been a fan of categorizing depression as a mental illness. I don’t believe it is. And before you yell at me and tell me how insensitive I am remember this: For years homosexuality was classified as a mental illness too. I find it infuriating that this discussion can’t be held openly without people immediately going on the offense. People get so offended when you try and question what is now considered “the social norm.” But today the theme is “let’s talk,” so perhaps I’ll get to do that for a change.
I have dealt with these “feelings” for 14 years. Blaming other people for my misfortunes. Angry after finding some success one year, but not finding it the next. Drunk in a fit of sad rage because my life isn’t going according to plan. Worried I’ll never accomplish the seemingly unattainable goals I have set out for myself. Sometimes looking for the answer at the bottom of an empty bourbon bottle. Hell, I’ve contemplated suicide, but who hasn’t? Anyone who says that the thought of suicide has NEVER crossed their mind, is a liar. The contemplation of suicide mixed with a moment of weakness mixed with the assistance of liquid courage or other meds can be a deadly combination.
Chasing an unattainable dream is depressing. Almost everyone in the entertainment industry has dealt with it. But that only points to the fact that it may not be depression as much as it is a constant state of envy and feeling sorry for ourselves. I think that’s what bothers a lot of entertainers. If you want to argue that anything is a mental illness then the desire to be an “entertainer” could very easily be tossed into that ring. If you’ve never wanted to be an actor, singer, tv/movie star or famous athlete you’ll never REALLY understand this “sickness.” The constant need for attention, approval, and validation. And when you get the attention you’ve so desired, that only leads to wanting even more attention, approval, and validation. It’s a never ending cycle. When is enough actually enough? It never is. So is wanting fame also a mental illness?
Too many people use the word “depressed” as a crutch, or a method to explain the unexplained feelings they have inside. Some use the word “depression” when it’s convenient. But are we really depressed? Or are we just disappointed in the way things turn out? Envy often drives depressed feelings. Seeing what someone else has and wishing you could have the same thing. But you don’t have the same thing and that’s unfair. That’s depressing. When a 3 year old wants a cookie and gets told no, they pout. When I go to an audition and get told no, I become depressed. So if I’ve shared these similar feeling from infancy, isn’t this just a result of the way we’re designed. Could depression be nothing more than a natural instinct and not a mental illness? Someone who is mentally ill shouldn’t be treated the same way as a 16 year old boy who just got dumped by his girlfriend and didn’t make the football team. That 16 year old boy doesn’t need medication. He’s a 16 year old boy going through life. But we coddle him and send him to a shrink.
That’s just the way our society has become; soft and enabling. The “Participation Trophy” Generation. My Grandfather fought in WWII, he saw men get killed and obliterated. I imagine seeing your friends dying right in front of you could lead to some emotional stress and depression. But when he came back from the war, they didn’t give him any medication. He was thanked for his services and went right back to work. Built a company from the ground up and lived a full life. But little Billy gets dumped and feels depressed about it and we treat it like it’s the biggest tragedy since 9/11. Now we’re giving a 16 year old boy, who claims, “I just want to die,” medication for depression. He’s not depressed, he’s just going through life. But we continue to over-prescribe: Do you feel sad? Here’s your medication. Do you wish you had a better job and a bigger house? Here’s some medication! A mental illness is not somethings you overcome. It requires treatment and medicinal use. Yet people go in and out of depression on a regular basis.
Life isn’t full of rainbows with pots of gold or unicorns. Life is real. Life is hard. Life doesn’t give you lemons. Life gives you lemon seeds and you better pray for fuckin’ rain. This morning may suck. Tonight may suck, but tomorrow is a new day. The pessimist in me says that tomorrow is probably gonna suck too. But I’ll never know unless I make it to tomorrow.
So am I depressed? To be honest, I’ve never been able to tell the difference between feeling depressed or just feeling sorry for myself.