Lawyer Monica Zent writes in The Huffington Post, “Associate attorneys may have the highest salaries but, in a recent survey, they were rated as having the “least happy” jobs, perhaps because of the long hours and lack of work/life balance. Greater “balance,” however, might not be the answer. According to Wharton Professor Stewart D. Friedman, ‘A commitment to better ‘work/life balance’ isn’t the solution… A more realistic and more gratifying goal is better integration between work and the rest of life…’ As boundaries between work and home continue to blur and work/life balance becomes increasingly elusive, the future lies in integrating career and life in a more seamless, less structured way”. Read the rest of her article.
Emily Laurence writes, “High-functioning depression is when someone seems to have it all together on the outside, but on the inside, they are severely sad. Carol Landau, Ph.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry and human behavior and medicine at Brown University, says she primarily sees this in women with a penchant for perfectionism—AKA the same people who are likely your colleagues and friends with enviable lives and a long list of personal achievements.” Read the rest of her blog.
Psychiatrist, Ian Drever, M.D., blogs, “It’s one of those words that gets thrown around a lot, and we all think we know what it is to be depressed, but do we really? Rather than seeing depression as just a one-dimensional illness of low mood, I think it’s better viewed as a collection of features which affect both mind and body. Everyone’s precise mix will be unique to them, and will often vary from day to day — even from hour to hour.” Read the Blog
First Lady Michelle Obama writes in The Huffington Post, “Sadly, too often, the stigma around mental health prevents people who need help from seeking it. But that simply doesn’t make any sense. Whether an illness affects your heart, your arm or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there shouldn’t be any distinction. We would never tell someone with a broken leg that they should stop wallowing and get it together. We don’t consider taking medication for an ear infection something to be ashamed of. We shouldn’t treat mental health conditions any differently. Instead, we should make it clear that getting help isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of strength – and we should ensure that people can get the treatment they need.” Read the News
From The Huffington Post, author and blogger S.L. Young details the stages of depression and his path out of it. Read the News
Many people describe depression as a kind of intense grief. It is a deep sadness. It’s like heartbreak, agony and despair all at once. I think depression is worse than grief. Grief usually has an identifiable cause. There are stages. People understand why you are sad. It eases with time.
I find that depression is more like death. In every depressive episode, something is lost. Sometimes it’s the belief that I’m not that sick. Sometimes it’s a dream. Sometimes it’s a concrete plan or goal. Sometimes it’s who I desperately wanted and expected myself to be. Sometimes it’s a harmful lie I’ve told myself, or that someone told me. Sometimes what dies, needed to go. Most times, it seems I would have been perfectly fine without the loss. I would smile more. I would know how I spent the hours in my day. I would see fewer doctors. When people ask me how I am doing, my response of “fine” would only be a lie thirty percent of the time. Like most people, right?
I have lived with a depressive condition since I was a teenager, although I didn’t have a name for it until my 20s. I don’t know how many lows I’ve had — excluding the two suicidal bouts. I don’t count how many times I’ve been sad and desperate for months. I don’t make a list of what I’ve lost.
I do, however, remember when I lost my faith.
Like many people who are raised in a religious environment, I was taught to believe that God loves me and protects me. I was taught that God punishes sin, and rewards those who are faithful. I learned about my religion by studying Holy Scriptures. I prayed. I worshipped. This was supposed to strengthen my faith. It was supposed to make me happy.
For many years, it did. I cherished Sundays spent in church — singing, kneeling and feeling inspired by the words of the preachers. My friends were made up of the other people I met in church. We volunteered at Vacation Bible School for the children, the food drive and tutoring programs.
Meanwhile, I prayed for peace. In my sleepless nights, I asked God to save me, help me and rescue me from my sadness. Just make it all better. I also heard the messages that my faith told me about depression: that I was be too blessed to be stressed; that depression was a lie from “the enemy”; that suicide is an unforgiveable sin. Somewhere between my unanswered prayers and the realization that I could not worship myself into happiness, my faith died.
I kept going to church. I kept saying the words of the prayers. I still sang the songs. I’m a minister — I have to. But I was a fraud. I stopped talking with God. What could I say to the One who was not delivering me? What praise did I have? I could list my blessings, but I could not feel gratitude. I hid my faithlessness like a bobby pin in an updo. Everything looked composed on the outside, but I was barely holding it together. I was not faithful or pious. I felt abandoned and alone.
As my depression worsened, I learned more about it. I read books. I found doctors who understood my condition. I stopped fearing medication. I met other people who struggled like me. We learned to hear sorrow in one “hello,” and how to sit with each other without words. I began to believe that depression was not a personal weakness or failure. By accepting it, I began to manage it. When I felt joy, I appreciated it all the more. I started to trust the healing process. But I missed my faith in God, religion and worshipping community.
Oddly enough, death is the purview of the religious. We call chaplains into hospital rooms. When someone dies, we go to the altar. Mourners bend their backs and wail. The spirituals express deep sorrow. We gather together with large meals. We don’t pretend like people aren’t in pain. In those times, we understand when people cannot praise God. We only ask people to be honest with God. And we don’t leave them alone. This is exactly what my depressed self needs: tears, music, good food, raw honesty, community. The same faith that demonizes my depression also teaches me how to have faith in the midst of it.
I lost the faith I once had. I stopped believing that God only loved me if I was happy and peaceful. I also gave up on the idea that depression was punishment or isolation from God. I can’t enjoy the same songs. I cannot bear the same sermons. That faith is gone. Just like the hours, weeks or months I lose to melancholy. And my incomplete plans. Or the image I’d like to have of myself.
In these moments when death prevails, I appreciate that so many religions have an understanding of life after death. Regrowth, reincarnation, resurrection. They all understand that there is a finality to death. We don’t get back what we lost. We get something or someone new.
My new faith is a deep trust that God is present with me and understands how I feel — especially when no one else can. I no more blame God for my sadness, than I credit God for happy days. This faith tells God how I really feel knowing that an offer of my true self is worship. I appreciate songs of sorrow more. I dance only when joyful. I am upheld by church community that can linger in pain without moving to fix it.
This faith is different than what died. But it’s just as holy.
This article first appeared in The Huffington Post on October 13,2012.
There’s a power in numbers. They tell a story. Read these statistics about depression and see how it changes your perspective on this illness. Read the Blog
Linday Holmes writes in The Huffington Post about an effort to reframe the conversation about the stigma attached to mental illness by artist Robot Hugs who created a comic that displays what it would be like if we discussed physical illnesses in the same way we do mental ilnesses. Read the Story
Kate Mayer Mangan reports in The Huffington Post about the disturbing connection between learning to “think like a lawyer” in law school and the high rates of depression in its students. Read the News