We are a company in which suffering continues to be a silent stigma . We secretly take pills for the pain of life, treat high cholesterol and our low mood while asking us 'how are you?', As if this were depression, a simple cold or an infection to be treated with antibiotics.
Primary care professionals say it is not enough, that nowadays they assist dozens of people with clear symptoms of depression or some anxiety problem. It is as if society were a pupil that dilates upon entering a dimly lit room , where the darkness suddenly grips us.
'The birds of sadness can fly over our heads, but they cannot make their nests in our hair' -Bending proverb-
Suffering adheres to the body and mind, our back, bones and soul hurt, our stomach burns and we feel a weight on our chest. The blankets trap us in their warm refuge, like the tentacles of an octopus, inviting us to stay there, away from the world , from conversations and the noise of life.
As the WHO (World Health Organization) warns us, in the next twenty years, depression will be the main health problem of the western population , and to curb this impact, we don't just need well-trained means, tools or professionals. We need awareness and sensitivity.
It is necessary to remember that none of us are immune to suffering from a psychological disorder at some point in our life . We cannot trivialize suffering; it is good to understand it, to manage it and, above all, to prevent diseases such as depression.
Depression as a stigma and personal failure
Marco is 49 years old and is a socio-medical auxiliary . Two days ago he was diagnosed with an anxious-depressive picture. Before asking for an appointment with the specialist, he already sensed the shadow of this depression, perhaps because he recognized the symptoms in the memories of his childhood , when his mother spent those horrible times characterized by bad mood and isolation in her room. A period that marked a large part of his childhood.
Now it is he who hosts this demon; even if they suggested he go sick, Marco refuses. He is afraid of having to explain to his colleagues (doctors and nurses) what is happening to him, he is ashamed , because for him, depression is like a personal failure, an inherited weakness. In fact, only repetitive, insistent and persistent thoughts reach his mind, which add up to the memory of his mother. A woman who never went to the doctor and who spent most of her life subjected to a dizzying emotional noria of ups and downs.
Marco, on the other hand, went to the psychiatrist and he tells himself that he is doing things right, because the drugs will help him , because it is simply one more disease to treat, as are your hypertension, your cholesterol or your hypothyroidism. However, our protagonist is wrong, because life pain pills help, but they are not enough; because depression, like many other psychological disorders, needs three additional elements: psychotherapy, a life plan and social support.
The low soul, high suffering and external ignorance
We are used to hearing that the suffering it is part of life and that sometimes a painful experience helps us to be stronger, to invest in our personal growth. However, we miss that there is another kind of suffering that makes us drunk for no apparent reason , without a detonator, like a cold wind that extinguishes our soul, desire and energy.
'To wall up one's suffering is to risk being devoured by it' -Frida Kahlo-
Existential suffering is the great virus of today's human being. You can't see it, you can't touch it, but it hurts. In a second moment, a diagnostic manual gives a name to what happens to us and we turn into another label to the point that many health professionals err on the side of the scientific model. They forget that each patient with depression is unique , with its own clinical characteristics, with its own history and that, at times, the same strategy is not valid for everyone.
On the other hand, a further problem that we find in dealing with depression is that even today many countries do not have an adequate protocol. Primary care physicians usually diagnose the condition and treat it with medication. If the patient does not improve, he is referred to a psychiatrist. All of this shows us once again that mental health problems are not sufficiently recognized , although they are more than evident: 1 in 6 people will suffer from depression at some point in their life.
Similarly, the social stigma already mentioned is added to the sometimes deficient approach of the medical system in this type of disease. In fact, there is a curious fact that is explained to us in the magazine article Psychology Today and that invites us, without doubt, to a profound reflection.
If it is explained to the population of a certain city that the depression is 'exclusively' due to neuro-boiological causes, there is a greater acceptance of the same . What's more, visits to the psychologist or psychiatrist would increase because the individual would stop attributing to himself this 'alleged' weakness, this lack of courage for having allowed himself to be subjugated by discouragement and suffering.
Unfortunately, as we can see, we continue to be rooted in the underground of ignorance, where certain diseases continue to be synonymous with madness , weakness or a defect to hide. The time has come to normalize, to understand ourselves and, above all, to reflect on these disorders that do not require casts or sutures or drips every 6 hours.
We must stop underestimating suffering and learn to understand it, to be active agents and, above all, close.
I go to the psychologist and I'm not crazy
'I go to the psychologist and I'm not crazy. Furthermore, Pazzo is an infamous figurative label that no one should use to indicate who has a problem
Images courtesy of Samy Charnine