We are about to climb into our cars, board planes, or open our homes to family members and friends to celebrate an American tradition: coming together at the Thanksgiving Day meal, tossing around the ball for a friendly game of flag football, and figuring out how on earth we were ever comfortable sleeping on those tiny, double-sized twin beds.
This year has another special feature to integrate. How do we integrate or avoid arguing with people over conflicting views about the the new presidential administration and proposed changes? And what, if anything, does this have to do with your mental and emotional health?
You tell me. I mean, literally: you all have been telling me over the last two weeks. People are reporting that they are thinking about this challenge. People are asking me what to consider as they make plans to spend time with family, friends, and community members, as its citizens discuss their views of the future under a new president and administration.
And some are already changing plans, based on what is happening in their homes and friend’s home, with some of that decision having nothing to do with the election. They have long-standing conflict that has been lingering for years.
In a photo essay, street photographer Murray Dejager described his early foray into using his camera as psychological therapy. Specifically, Dejager felt that his camera functioned as the Therapist, helping him witness his own feelings in ways that he found difficult to see on his own. “All I knew was that when I walked the streets of downtown with my camera, looking for images that captured the way I felt inside, I felt better,” he wrote in a short essay. Similar to Dejager’s discovery, photographer Richard Wood and I discussed this very topic last year, and again I encountered the same topic at a consumer tech conference. Is there a way to shoot depression with photography?
A few weeks ago, I found myself musing about the real “face” of depression. I personally find it absurd to think that anyone who lives a full life can escape the feeling of being depressed at some point in their lifetime of 365-1/4 day trips around the sun. A full life – one in which you choose to be awake – includes its fair share of tragedies, heartbreaks, endings, and losses. As I am writing this, we are on the eve of experiencing a hurricane that affects hundreds of miles of homes and businesses, which can only mean that millions of people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake, and the thought of human loss is grieving and yes, depressing. Yet rather than sharing only statistics and norms and “how to’s, I’m sharing my personal and professional musings on depression not just as a situationally-caused mood disorder, but also as a real “face” that seemingly has no cause, or to which we look beyond cause. What is the real face of depression?
“I have no reason to be depressed”
You probably know at least one person who tells you, “I have no reason to be depressed.” Such a statement falls falls from a mouth of an intelligent, successful, healthy adult man or woman who appears well-loved and appreciated for his or her contribution to the community, the workplace, and the home. She or he can count off at least ten or more reasons why depression should have no place in her life, and yet there it is: this heavy, achy, tired, brooding feeling of either not wanting to have to wake up to another day (with suicidal thoughts and fantasies of ending it all), or the same heavy- achy-tired-brooding-feeling, only without suicidal thoughts. That same person may have tried counseling or some form of “talk therapy“, and while strategies for managing the symptoms of depression are discussed and employed, the person expresses dismay that after six months of weekly sessions, she doesn’t feel much different. Just depressed.