Depression is not a Demon



In the recent news, famous Anthony Bourdain took his life.  The week before Kate Spade took hers.   Everyone on social media stated their shock of such successful people loosing their battles with mental health.    I read multiple articles looking for more insight into these tragedies.  Why would people who were amazingly talented or called “the most interesting man on earth” decide to take their lives?   My husband read part of an article that revealed some research that the same genes or genetic makeup that caused someone to be driven could also be the same genetic marker that they battled against causing severe depression.

I think of my sweet girl.  highest GPA in her class, graduated with her associates degree at 18.  She had A.D.D. so focusing was difficult, but she focused and worked harder than anyone I have known.   She was an introvert and struggled in some social settings.  It’s difficult to tell an introvert from someone experiencing the warning signs that are life threatening.     Similarly, Kate Spade battled severe depression, Anthony Bourdain also struggled with wanting to stay in solitude, smoke pot and watching cartoons.  He was battling depression daily most likely.

In some of my daughter’s cards and posts, along with Anthony Bourdain’s posts ,I have read that “I know you had your demons” or “I know he wrestled with his demons”.  Nothing ticks me off more!!!!! We are not in the 16th century where we blame everything we can’t understand on demons!  Get real people.  Are there dark forces or a spiritual battle we can’t see and don’t understand?  If you are of Christian faith we are told that there is, but to write off someone’s depression as a demon is a way to brush off what we don’t understand.  To say someone wrestled with their demons is to say what?  My child was filled with demons?  My incredibly beautiful, sarcastic, artistic, fairy tale loving, nature loving, God-fearing daughter was full of demons?  No.  She was full of major depression that she was given genetically, a chemical imbalance most likely turned on by puberty and environmental factors.    To brush it off is easier than unpacking the complicated mess of mental health.  If you have anyone in your life struggling, I would hope that you would try to reach out to learn more about severe depression.

My other favorite copout I have heard is that this is societies fault.  That our world is just uncaring, or it’s the state of the government right now, or the economy or how expensive the cost of living has become and so on.   These are all valid reasons for despair, but to blame large amounts of manic depression in our society on society, is again a copout.  It takes the blame and puts it on everywhere else.  There are economic factors, and genetics, and environmental factors at play in all the horrible things going on in our society.   We, as a society, cannot wait until someone else does something about it.

Recently I explained the Butterfly Effect to my youngest daughter, “the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere” Webster Dictionary.   Before my daughter passed away she had placed a bumper sticker on her car, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi.      I have thought of that sticker a lot recently.   To me it is a message for her that we need to share.   With each act of kindness, of helping one another even when we don’t seem to have the time or resources, learning to speak out when we see someone in danger of harming themselves or others,  learning the signs to watch for, learning the signs of severe mental illness, or help a neighbor when they are hurting, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.   This is how we will dispel the myth that depression is a demon, this is how we are the hands and feet of Jesus, this is how, with one small flutter, we make huge changes in one life and then many lives.



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