ECT depressionHad depression not killed my godmother–my mom’s sister–and had it not made a pretty good attempt at ending my life, I doubt I would admit to anyone that I pack my suitcase full of the old-people container of meds. It’s hard enough to list them all at the doctor’s office with a straight face, much less speak openly online and offline about my ongoing struggles with anxiety and depression.

We all make fun of Tom Cruise for his beliefs that you can cure depression with exercise alone, but my guess—based on the reactions I get and the conversations I have when I throw out the D word—is that most people share his philosophy … that those chronic worriers and criers among us haven’t learned how to cope with life’s blows, give into needless thoughts and feelings, and—with a little yoga and tofu—might toughen up and get off the couch.

What do we do about the thick and suffocating stigma surrounding depression and other mood disorders? How do we possibly stand a chance at fighting such an uninformed but common mindset?

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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1 Response
  1. Dr. Kevin Keough

    Thanks for another good one Therese. Perhaps because of my Y chromosome I feel impelled to offer a 7th tactic to deal with stigma. As a matter of course I respond to all “stigma comments” directed to me or overhead by me about others is to “educate” ” “stigmatizers” to my use of psychotropics. Next, I encourage any and all comers to see me if they have a problem with it. Yes, I make veiled threats to administer a thumping to ANYONE that would stigmatize. Curiously, most people blush and admit to their own use or willingness to use psychotropics. Never has a single soul decided to take me up on my education-thumping class.

    Ah,there is an 8th tactic— to inform them that at ages 13 and 10 I had my children (going through a divorce at the time) start medicine for depression. Funny, but I’ve never had anyone question this decision.

    Stigma kills people. Delivering an educational thumping of misinformed or malicious people about all things mental health and medication related is a responsibility I feel necessary to protect those depressed/anxious people more vulnerable to “mental illness bullies”.

    Not to worry-I have never thumped anyone over stigma. That said, I am for hire if there is anyone in need of an equalizer or all too human guardian (angel). It’s ok to laugh about it all too. Why not ?