Hello. My name’s Cate and I get depressed

In about me on May 20, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I’m inspired today by listening to a recent radio interview by one of my heroes, political commentator, superbrain and all-round hot gay chick, Rachel Maddow.

Turns out Maddow gets depressed. Not every now and then, either.

Essentially ever since puberty, every since I was 11 or 12, I guess, I’ve had cyclical depression. That’s, you know, something that has been a defining feature of my life as an adult. And it’s manageable, but it’s real. And doesn’t take away from my joy in my work or my energy, but coping with depression is something that is part of the everyday way that I live and have lived as long as I can remember.

Me too, Dr Maddow, me too.

It’s no secret that I get depressed. Anyone who knows me knows it. But I guess it’s fair to say that admitting that I’ve always been prone to cycles of depression is not something I’ve ever really said out loud in public before.

See that word? ‘Admitting’? … pejorative, isn’t it? It’s tiresome that even someone who lives with depression still uses those kinds of words to describe it.

Here’s more of what Maddow had to say:

… If you’ve never been depressed, you can still understand the difference between sadness and depression. It’s like the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. And the opposite of happiness isn’t necessarily sadness, it’s disconnection. And you know, when you are depressed, it’s like the rest of the world is the mothership and you’re out there on a little pod and your line gets cut, and you just don’t connect with anything, you sort of – you sort of disappear.

Yes, yes and yes.

I experience exactly those feelings of disconnection that Maddow describes. Also, for me depression is an amplifier. If I’m in a low patch, things that might not cause me a second thought at other times become huge, thumping stereo systems of negativity. Particularly at 3am.

A conversation didn’t finish quite the way I thought it would? Oh, it’s the end of the relationship and IT’S. ALL. MY. FAULT. The house needs cleaning? It’s Mount Everest and I’ve run out of oxygen and rope. Big meeting tomorrow? It’s going to be a nightmare.

Depressed people often believe they’re just being realistic. I’m one of those as well. And we are — but we’re also, if not blind to, then immune to the silver lining that’s, let’s face it, pretty much always there somewhere.

More Maddow:

I’m not embarrassed. I’m not embarrassed by it. You know, I mean, it’s no – I don’t see it as having any moral component. I’m not embarrassed by it and I know that a lot of people live with it and cope with and treat depression in different ways. And I’ve been able to be a high-functioning person with depression all my life. And I expect that – I don’t expect it to ever go away. It would be great if it did but in the meantime, I can make a life around it.

Maddow didn’t say — and why should she — whether she takes medication for her depression. I do. And when circumstances combine to hammer me all at once, as they did a few weeks ago, I increase the dose.

If people want to judge me for that then they’re the ones with the problem, not me. To paraphrase Stephen Fry (because I can’t find the exact damn quote), if you’ve got an infection you take antibiotics, if you’ve got high blood pressure you take a pill, so why not do the same for depression?

I function pretty well with depression in my life, I think. I’ve held down a job for a quarter of a century, I’ve racked up a credit card debt, written a few books — none of them about depression, which must be some kind of achievement — and managed to stay out of jail and hospital, for the most part. Lol.

And if Rachel Maddow can be Rachel Maddow and depressed at the same time, there’s hope for us all.

Rachel Maddow, the Fresh Air interview

  1. Excellent that you are one that will speak out, please would you share a personal story on my Blog ?. The more we all pull together and show there is support out there and understanding, the more people will come forward and ask for help. Together we can beat the stigma that goes with Mental Health. Thank you for your time.

  2. […] Hello. My name’s Cate and I get depressed ( Rate this: Come on now…SHARE!PrintEmailFacebookTwitterStumbleUponDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  3. […] by Peter Brew-Bevan, The AgeIn the spirit of my Rachel-Maddow-gets-depressed-too post of a couple of days ago, here is an excellent piece by Chris Johnston from The Age about the […]

  4. Thanks for posting this, Cate. I did not know Rachel Maddow had said this in an interview. She is a genius and hot! . This is a topic that needs to come out of its own ‘closet’ and you are to be congratulated for talking about it. Yes. What is the difference between someone with diabetes or some other ailment that requires medication to help alleviate? I do not suffer from depression (that I know of) but I think my partner does. How does one begin a discussion about that without sending the other person into a fit of denial and a downward spiral of “something is wrong with me” sadness? Sadly, the stigma that is attached to depression is strong here.
    And, I don’t know if there has been any objective study about this, but it seems that really intelligent, kind people are more prone to depression episodes. Have you ever observed this? This may not be the forum for this discussion, but I’ll take dialog where ever I can find it. Again, thank you for sharing and educating us all.

    • Hi solargrrl, thanks for your comment. I’d like to think the stigma attached to depression is lessening here in Australia. A few weeks ago, the week before I started my vacation, I found myself sitting at work, looking around at all the people, knowing that I couldn’t be the only person in the room who gets depressed. And trying to figure out who it was. And then I remembered that it’s not like we wear a sign on our foreheads.

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