Are depressed people our latest protected species?
"Don't say anything to that person, they're suffering from depression, they might do something silly," we're warned, the implication being if you call the person into line for their attitude or behaviour, they'll kill themselves.
It's an ugly new form of tacit blackmail the whole nation's media has caved into. A while ago a well-known Aussie attempted suicide and all reports of their idiotic behaviour were spiked in case the character in question did the job properly.
How often do we see a celeb or sportsman caught out being stupid and they throw down the get-out-of-jail-free-card of "depression" and we're required to murmur solicitously?
Whenever I write about depression readers send me abusive emails saying I have "no idea" which is cute, seeing I've suffered from depression for many years, have a close relative with severe bi-polar disorder and have lost friends and blood to depression-related suicide.
I've been to counsellors, psychologists, analysts and psychiatrists and been prescribed four different antidepressants. I've read books on the subject, written two novels dealing with depression, meditated, given up booze and drugs, gotten fit, done charity work and improved my "internal dialogue".
I think I know my way around the subject enough to say there are plenty of depressed people who'd benefit from straight talking, rather than coddling. I know I would have.
Thanks to the efforts of groups like Beyond Blue, The Black Dog Institute, headspace, ReachOut, Movember, RU OK Day, Sane and Lifeline it's cemented in our collective psyche the worst thing you can say to a depressed person is "snap out of it" but I think, in many cases, people need to be presented with this option.
Obviously, there's a vast spectrum of depression, however, it seems we're expected to treat a lingering case of the sads with the same deference as a chemical imbalance like bi-polar disorder.
I understand it can be difficult and dangerous for a layman to try to pick the difference but trained professionals have the tools to distinguish people languishing in bad habits and those who pose a threat to themselves.
I'm pretty sure I sat in the first category far longer than I needed to because no one had the balls to paint the human condition in its primary colours for me.
That is, life isn't meant to be easy, nobody owes you anything - particularly happiness - and a huge part of living is gritting your teeth, accepting responsibility, and getting on with stuff you don't want to do.
I've never heard those words from a mental health professional and it's no doubt partly because of that tacit blackmail I mentioned; doctors don't want to be sued if patients walk out of their practice and into traffic.
Human suffering is as old as humans, yet wherever its most obvious causes like disease, warfare, poverty and inequality have been removed, depression is on the increase. It makes me wonder if the more people have, the less they value it and the more unrealistic their expectations become.
I admire positivity in others but as a life philosophy I've found the assumption of despair rarely disappoints. When it doesn't, I'm just friggin' grateful.
Suicide prevention for the chronically depressed is as admirable thing, it's just a shame so many others indulge themselves under the protection we give those in danger, crying "I've got a disease" when they're actually sulking about life being a hard slog.
With every second person claiming "I'm depressed" and high-profile wombats citing it as the reason for their idiocy, is it any wonder serious sufferers, seeing their turmoil trivialised, stay silent?
Please don't take it personally if I do not reply to your email as they come in thick and fast depending on the topic. Please know, I appreciate you taking the time to write and comment and would offer mummy hugs to all.