There will never be a cure for depression.
There, I said it.
The head of a foundation that raises money for the research and treatment of depression has stated that there is no cure and that there never will be a cure for depression.
Sad, isn’t it?
But that’s the point: I can make a statement, and you might become sad. Maybe that sadness amplifies, and some of you become depressed knowing there will never be a cure for depression.
Today I am depressed. Honestly, I am in the dumps. I’m down. It’s a beautiful day out, there’s a nice light breeze in New York City. I share for the most part the same issues as all of you, but at the end of the day, my life is going well: I’m reasonably in good health, got a job, great friends… I shouldn’t be all that bummed, but I am.
Why, Tim? Why are you depressed, Tim?
Honestly? Because you keep asking me why…
I am depressed because we are in an endless media cycle that is constantly asking “why,” hunting for a reason to say, “Ah ha… that’s its… Robin killed himself because (insert opinion here). Let’s recreate how the events leading up to the (opinion why person is dead) happened.”
Media really only loves two things, and we eat it up with reckless abandon. The most famous journalists have made entire livings off of simply being good at:
- Finding blame
In the past 72 hours, I have watched droves of media channels run to their timelines and hunt for the culprit that led to Robin’s ultimate demise. They blame countless reasons, and everybody has an opinion.
The cause of Robin’s death was asphyxia due to hanging—suicide. The same diagnosis and method used by my brother David. I cannot tell you why my brother decided to do what he did when he did, and we were thick as thieves, two peas in a pod, so I won’t even begin to speculate what specific event or events triggered Robin’s situation. We did not know one another.
And quite frankly, this shouldn’t be the conversation we are having right now with so much attention around depression.
We should be having a conversation around what we can do when we are feeling depressed or what we can do when somebody you love or know or are complete stranger to appears depressed or suicidal.
Don’t get me wrong: “Why” can help diagnose triggers, but knowing “what” to do when you are feeling a certain way and “how” to seek help when you are feeling down are much more important than “why.” Especially when that person is no longer with us.
Depression will never be cured because depression is not a virus, or something that goes away with a shot of penicillin. Depression, to me as a non-medical layman, is really a blanket word we use to immediately understand that another person is feeling more intensely “alone” or “sad” than they normally would.
I know you are already getting set to say, “Well take an antidepressant, there is a cure right there.” But that is a means of treating depression. Truth be told, I also use working out, yoga, and sailing as a means to treat my depression. But that is treatment. Even on these medications, and during my workouts, I can still experience depression. Sometimes it is less severe and non-existent; the next moment it is back, crushing my very soul.
Depression is the most treatable of mental illness, but there will never be a day when Depression will cease to exist.
It’s astounding to me when I read these articles, and all the well-meaning people respond, trying to search for a reason why but not recognizing they are hunting for answers within the wrong “question phrase” and that depression could be triggered by an infinite amount of things, from chemical to societal, and that it will continue to do so in perpetuity.
How many stories have we heard about bullying: a person taking their own life because they were being bullied, slipped into a “depression,” and eventually killed themselves? Was bullying to blame for the depression? A kid who realizes he or she is gay is tormented at coming out of the closet because of the societal pressures and eventually succumbs to taking his or her own life? Was being gay the reason for the depression? Was it the societal pressures associated with being gay? You were just recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and have several months to live. Do you think you might be at a higher risk of suffering from depression?
You can give me an infinite number of reasons why somebody became depressed and eventually took their own life. I would be hard-pressed to disagree with your reasoning because you can be depressed for countless reasons. I’ve stopped making that list. Even if we could solve bullying, or learn to globally accept one another for the way we are and whom we choose to love, even if we could find a cure for cancer… depression lives on, incurable.
And so I petition you now to think about changing the line of questioning from “why” and shift perhaps your curiosity to “what” and “how.” What do I do if I am feeling this way? How do I help a friend who appears to be suffering from depression?
I challenge you, and I challenge the media, to shift from the blame and timeline games to a conversation around “what” and “how” we can do something different to protect those against an incurable killer.