I’m Back, and I Brought Company

I’m Back, and I Brought Company

Okay, I know it’s  been nearly a year since I last posted anything, and I admit that I have assumed that I am the only one reading this blog anyway, so why bother? The fact that I am the only one reading my blog hasn’t bothered me nearly as much as my admitted (and diagnosed) clinical depression and anxiety disorder have.  In fact, depression and anxiety are the real reason that it has been over a year since I have written anything.

I know I’m not the only one who suffers from these disorders, and they are nothing new to me, or to  many throughout history.  I am not ashamed of them either.  It is what it is, and is part of who I am, like it or not.

Unfortunately, I often come across others who  see these as embarrassing mental illnesses that must be kept in the closet with the dirty laundry and the family skeletons.  I don’t see it that way at all though, because I know I am in good company.  Many well-known individuals who live, or have lived, very public lives suffer from depression. Here are just ten of those prominent people who I happen to think quite highly of:

  • Mike Wallace (journalist)
  • Winston Churchill (British Prime Minister–WWII)
  •  Diana Spencer (Princess of Wales)
  • Truman Capote (author)
  • John Denver (singer, songwriter)
  • Dick Clark (television personality)
  • Bily Joel (musician)
  • Jack London (author)
  • Eugene O’Neil (playwright)
  • Paul Simon (musician)

I think I can control my depression pretty well. I imagine that most people do, as long as they can recognize it for what it is, and work their way through it with determination.  What I don’t manage so well  is my anxiety–depression’s evil twin.  It comes when it is least welcome, and stays as long as it wants to.  In fact, the harder I fight it, the longer it stays.  I don’t like the idea of spending the rest of my life  dependent on anti-depressants (the long term solution), and many doctors are hesitant to prescribe Xanax because it is mildly addictive, so I keep struggling.  Trust me, it’s not fun.  I think that anxiety is often what leads to suicidal thoughts–I often think that I would rather die than have to suffer through a prolonged anxiety attack.  Sometimes they last two minutes, sometimes they last two weeks. 

Most people who struggle with depression deal with anxiety as well.  Here are ten of my most respected celebrities who share my struggle:

  • Robert Burns (poet)
  • Barbara Bush (former First Lady – U.S.)
  • Ray Charles (musician)
  • Dick Clark (television personality)
  • Sigmund Freud (psychiatrist)
  • Charles Schultz (cartoonist)
  • Willard Scott (weatherman)
  • John Steinbeck (author)
  • Barbra Streisand (singer)
  • Oprah Winfrey (host)
As I was thinking of how to make my comeback to this blog, I  thought of

Abraham Lincoln. He is truly one of my heroes.  Lincoln suffered his whole life with depression, and likely anxiety as well. I learned about Lincoln’s struggle with depression–they called it “melancholia” back then–before I even knew about my own (I was diagnosed over 20 years ago). I have always been fascinated with Lincoln’s lifelong struggle.  I am truly awestruck that he was able to rise to such greatness despite this unchecked and debilitating  disorder. 

Just yesterday I found discovered a book review of Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President, and Fueled His Greatness by Joshua Wolf Shenk.  I am moving it to the top of my reading list.  

I also read that writers and teachers rate #6 and #7 respectively, on a list of  Ten Careers with a high rate of Depression. To be honest, I feel a little better knowing that I’m in such good company. The skeletons are out and the dirty laundry could use some air (maybe I’ll wash it first).  I’ll just keep on keepin’ on, and I promise to make a better effort to blog more often (even if I am the only one reading this).

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