Why depression is the "in" thing

Posted By: Mike Toth · 2/22/2013 11:00:00 AM

Suddenly, it's become cool to be depressed.
"Silver Linings Playbook" is up for a bunch of Oscar's; a film featuring a pair of Hollywood's hottest stars, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, whose characters are battling mental illness. But while the movie is definitely entertaining and at times very funny, it paints an unrealistic picture of depression by placing a pretty bow on the disease.

Looking to beat the "black dogs" of depression?   

According to the movie, all you need to do is hook-up with a fellow hottie, watch your favourite NFL team beat the point spread, and take up ball room dancing. But as a long-time sufferer of depression, I can tell you it's not so simple.

Ball room dancing?

At its worst, depression makes it tough to find the energy to get out of bed.

Thousands of people deal with depression every day and even some famous athletes, the perfect picture of health and wellness on the outside, struggle with internal demons. 22-year old Canadian tennis star Rebecca Marino announced her retirement this week, saying she no longer enjoys life on the pro tour and has been depressed for the past six years.

"Depression is nothing to be ashamed of," said Marino. "If I can open up, I hope I can encourage someone to get the help that I got."

A noble goal, for sure. However, it should also come with a cautionary note; be extremely careful about who you open up to. In today's celebrity and Twitter-obsessed world, it's very fashionable to lay your life bare in public. Marino, Canadian Olympic hero Clara Hughes and TSN broadcaster Michael Landsberg, for example, have all gone public with their stories of fighting the disease. But while celebrities are often applauded for having the courage to open up about their weaknesses, it's not always the same story for the ordinary rank and file.

Despite increasing knowledge of mental illness, there are still many people uncomfortable about dealing with the subject. Make the mistake of telling an unsympathetic boss about your depression, for instance, and you'll be really depressed when you suddenly find yourself out of a job. Fortunately, when the subject came up, my manager at Newstalk 1010 handled it with a great deal of understanding and compassion. With one previous employer, however, I might as well have been suffering from leprosy instead of depression because they wanted no part of the discussion.

But instead of confessing to employers and fellow workers, taking advice from celebrities or telling the world about your problems on Twitter, the best way to deal with depression is to find a family doctor who can help get the treatment you need to defeat the "black dogs". That's what I did a few years ago, and I'm pleased to report it has made all the difference in the world.

Taking my own advice about public confessions, this is the final blog you'll ever read about my battle with depression. But again, the main reason for sharing my thoughts is to stress that if you're feeling down in the dumps.....TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR!

Sure it's not as cool as ballroom dancing, but it's a lot more effective. 

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  1. Julie posted on 02/23/2013 09:11 PM
    Beautifully expressed and written Mike! Thank you so much for this. I couldn't agree more. Another reason for me to admire you even more. I already love your sense of humour and how loving a dad you seem to be. Thanks again.
  2. Estavan posted on 02/23/2013 10:14 PM
    As a man who works with teens everyday battling this issue, I can tell you first hand, it's no easy road for any one to travel. Although many of my students make it to school, many struggle just to crawl out of bed in the mornings. Some can barley muster the confidence to face the day, much less make it to the bathroom to brush their teeth.
    I commend people (especially men) like Mike for even bringing this forward in such a public forum. Thank you!! It's my hope more will gather the courage to acknowledge their debilitating disease and eventually have the confidence to talk about it....

    thanks again Mike..
  3. Paul posted on 02/24/2013 10:45 AM
    What a well-written article and a refreshing perspective. I have struggled with depression all my life and like Mike, medication has made all the difference. But it has been a struggle. And Mike is right, while I am thrilled to see this push towards acceptance of mental illness, there is a still a stigma and you do have to be careful who you talk about it with. I lost a job years ago because of my depression. I tried to explain my situation, but there was little sympathy. I was just perceived as lazy and sullen on the days that I suffered from my downswings. Today, I am much better and thriving in my career but it makes me feel better to hear about people who have had similar struggles, especially people like Mike who have managed to have great careers despite their illness. thanks for the blog.
  4. Mike posted on 02/25/2013 10:36 PM
    what a bunch of bull crap...depression...just another frigging excuse not to go to school or work...they all need a good swift kick in the ass!
    1. Rubie Begonia posted on 02/26/2013 12:34 PM
      @Mike When someone has not experienced a serious bout of clinical depression, has not been able to respond to prescribed drugs, when the drugs prescribed are not effective, and when your thoughts turn to such things as suicide because of not being capable of seeing and thinking clearly, to say that a kick in the ass will do it, ...this person is not able to relate. Take it from someone whose been there, and thankfully can say its a thing of the past now, and that those who had the same kick in the pants mentality are also in the past now.
    2. Cindy posted on 03/15/2013 10:16 AM
      @Mike I hope you never suffer from depression and have someone tell you that all you need is a kick in the ass.
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