I had very little knowledge of the mental illness called depression, until I came across a book called “Kill The Damn Dog”, by Sally Brampton at a Big Bad Wolf book sale a couple of years back. The book recounts the author’s ongoing battle with depression, how she went about learning about the illness that she had, what she learned from all her reading and conversations with doctors, the treatments she went through to get better, the bad days and the worse days that she had to go through, her attempts at suicide, and pretty much anything else you could think about when you think about depression.
One of the first things she was quick to point out to the readers was that depression was indeed a sickness, and one cannot just “cut it out” and “stop being sad”. It would be about as ridiculous as telling someone who has AIDS to just “get better”. Main point being: depression is not to be taken lightly. I highly recommend the book if you want to learn about depression.
Reading about depression is, well, depressing. You get to read the unfiltered thoughts of a depressed person and what that person had to go through because of a disease. I guess reading about any life-threatening disease would do that to you. But then again, I haven’t really read too many books about life-threatening diseases, have I?
It’s especially depressing when you identify with what the author has to say. You find yourself nodding and just knowing what it feels like to go through what the author went through, although not to that extreme, but it’s within the same ballpark, and that’s scary stuff. It took me close to two months to get through that book, simply because I couldn’t stand to read it for more than a few pages at a time without being too scared to carry on reading and feeling that it was just too much to take in all at once.
Sally Brampton made it through, and even got to write a book about it. She does stress that it doesn’t really go away at all. It’s just that some days are not as bad as some other days, and she just has to take it one day at a time.
A childhood hero of mine, Robin Williams, didn’t make it. It got too much for him, he went over the threshold and displayed the final symptom of the disease: suicide. I remember feeling so much of a loss in the world when that news got to me, I was paralysed by sadness for a few moments and couldn’t even move.
One cannot hope to triumph over the disease, yet, hope is the only thing that keeps one together in the head. And so long as hope prevails against despair, there is still hope.