“Gimme that z-o-l-o-f-t/gimme a grip, make me love me/suckin’ ‘em down, I’m happy man/can feel it inside, makin’ me smile.”
I love Ween. Hands down one of my favorite bands. And I love this song. But if only if it were this fuckin easy…
There’s no such thing as a one-pill-fits-all solution for depression. I’m no expert but I’ve had a little experience with Zoloft, Celexa, Prozac, Risperdal, Effexor, Trintellix, Abilify, Xanax, Buspar, and Klonipin. These are drugs—drugs meant to treat a disease. Yes, like high blood pressure or diabetes, depression is a disease and it’s caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. You wouldn’t tell a cancer patient to just “get over” that tumor taking over their gut just like you shouldn’t tell a person struggling with depression just to be happy.
I struggle with depression and I’m not ashamed to admit it. There are more than 300 million globally like me so why are we not talking about this like the epidemic it is? According to the CDC, depression takes more than 40,000 American lives per year (suicide) and is the third most common cause of death in adolescents. Our children, people, are struggling, too.
If you’ve never been diagnosed with depression, it’s probably difficult to understand what this disease is all about so I’ll do my best to describe how it is for me.
Imagine feeling like a cloud of doom is hanging over your head. You’re convinced something bad is going to happen. You’re paranoid. You’re angry. You know that cloud will always be there. It’s sunny outside but all you see is gray. You have no energy. All you want to do is sleep and you’re okay with sleeping your life away because there’s nothing good in your world. You’re surrounded by loving people but so goddamn lonely. Nothing excites you. You’re convinced the world will be a better place without you; who would miss you anyway? You sometimes fantasize about how you’d end it all. Your mind is going a hundred miles an hour but your body feels like it’s made of lead. If you could peel your skin off you would. To be anyone else would be better. You go to bed at night and wake from nightmares. Morning comes and you’re angry you even woke up. Repeat cycle. Every. God. Damn. Day. And while all of this is happening you know it’s completely irrational thinking but you have no control over it. You know it’s a chemical imbalance and you know you need your meds.
Look around you, friends. One in five people in the US is suffering from mental illness. This is a statistic that’s too significant to ignore.
The last line of Zoloft (the Ween song referenced above) is “The path of life’s not so easy to course, buddy.” And ain’t that the truth. So be kind. Be empathetic. Be there for those you love because one day they might not be around.