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.
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.