greybeta: (Tylor - Tylor Looking Grim)
Every so often, I write an article for my school newspaper. I usually post a rough draft to be dissected and for suggestions (after all, you've friended me to help me in my quest to become a better writer). As I am interested in politics, I usually write a hackneyed op-ed piece. However, for my return article, I decided to write a topic near and dear to my heart. Grammar Nazis, this is your chance to shine...

(You can find my reference website here.)

Depression: A Dark and Deep Pit
Daniel Tu

You find yourself in a dark and deep pit. You are not quite sure how you got there. You look up and the way out seems to be impossible. You know you should care about getting yourself out of this miserable hole but it just seems too deep for you to climb out. Perhaps, if you called for help, some kind soul would come and rescue you. But you are so far down this hellacious hole that it does not seem like any sane person could know you trapped down here. You feel a sudden hopelessness overtake you. Like a spiky hedgehog, you curl into a ball, as you are afraid to face the menacing world. You sincerely doubt anybody would care to save you.

That dark and deep pit is depression, a pit often dug by the very person experiencing the depression. The circumstances that cause the person to feel depressed do contribute to his melancholy disposition, but only the person himself chooses to withdraw from his friends and family. He often feels embarrassed to be “weak” enough to be experiencing such feelings. So he keeps them to himself, guarding his heart against friends and strangers alike. He appears to be normal in everyday conversation, even striking up funny jokes with his friends. He attends class and completes mundane assignments.

Yet, behind this façade lies a broken will. Rote habit forces the guy out of bed. Given a choice, he would sleep for the entire day instead of bothering with trifling things like class and schoolwork. Sometimes, he even foregoes daily necessities such as eating in favor of whatever entertainment he can find. He might watch TV for several hours, even viewing shows he swore he would never watch. In this day and age, he might be found endlessly surfing the vast World Wide Web, a source of infinite timesucking. However, he will never find a cure for what ails him in those soulless activities.

According to the website of the Office of Applied Studies at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a little more than eight percent of adults over the age of eighteen have experienced one episode of depression in the past year, jumping up to ten percent for adults aged eighteen to twenty-five. In other words, a typical class of twenty students at the University of Tulsa will contain two people battling some sort of depression. But what exactly is depression? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) specifies it as “a period of 2 weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image.”

Have you ever noticed a friend of yours skip classes in favor of sleep on a constant basis? Now this may be a common occurrence for an early morning Friday class, but if your friend does this indiscriminately up and down his entire schedule then something is probably wrong. Also, the occurrence of depression and increased usage of substances go hand in hand. If he or she has recently taken up cigarettes or has increased his or her smoking by an inordinate amount, then there may be a problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. It may be just that he or she simply wishes to experiment with unfamiliar things, but it never hurts to ask.

With depression, it is very easy to believe that nobody can empathize with your pain. It’s true that it is rather difficult for people who have not experienced depression to fully understand the demons mauling their friend. They may think their friend is just sandbagging, or they may get frustrated and wonder why their friend simply cannot “switch” their depression off. However, depression is not a light switch that can be turned on or off. Rather, think of emotions as two balancing gauges. One gauge measures how happy one feels and the other measures how sad one feels. The gauge measuring sadness pretty much stays the same, as things like stress and relationship problems attack one’s psyche at a constant pressure. Therefore, it is actually the gauge measuring happiness that determines whether you feel cheerful or cheerless at any given moment. Optimists tend to live longer because they focus on what they can actually change while pessimists focus on what they cannot change.

When you find yourself in that dark and deep pit, do not be afraid to call for help. An entire bevy of people, both friends and strangers, shall come to your aid. I know this is true because I get help for my own case of depression. I was honestly surprised by the number of people who were willing to be bothered by me. Never, ever forget that the people who love you would love to be bothered by you in your times of need, both emotional and physical.

July 2009

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