NewsWorldOPINION | Dep *** ion, that swear word...

OPINION | Dep *** ion, that swear word that from time to time I still fear (and am ashamed) to say out loud


Editor’s note: Ángela Reyes is a writer and editor at CNN en Español. She has a degree in Social Communication from the Universidad Católica del Uruguay, where she works as an assistant professor of Audiovisual Journalism. He worked at the AFP news agency and in various local media. The opinions expressed in this column are solely his own. You can read more opinion articles at

(CNN Spanish) – Some time ago, during an appointment, everything was going so well that I decided to make an exception to my precautions and tell it: today I had a psychiatrist, I am still in treatment for depression.

I tried to keep it light, with no low tones or long pauses: after all, I was simply commenting that I had a medical problem – a condition that we share about 280 million people in the world, according to the UN – and that he was treating it.

I was too optimistic (ironically). Within seconds the usual out-of-the-box reaction was unleashed: discomfort.

Saying that I am in treatment for depression causes me great discomfort and, unfortunately, on many occasions also to those who listen to me. It is more than discomfort. Sometimes it is even scary, as if he were pronouncing a bad word. The kind of indecent concept that shouldn’t be brought up, not just on a date, but also at an extended family table or a new job. Because how unseemly it is not to be able to control sadness.

Bad words, in many cases, are associated with the taboos of each society. The word taboo (taboo), by the way, dates back to 1777, when the explorer James Cook heard it during an expedition to Polynesia and recorded it in his notebook with the meaning of “forbidden” or “inviolable”, says the writer Andrea marcolongo in his book “Etymologies to survive chaos. Journey to the origin of 99 words ”. Taboo has evolved to represent, right now, what we should not mention, which causes “strong discomfort” or “great irrational fear”. From the 18th to the 21st century, from the island of Tonga to Montevideo, a concept like a glove to apply to one of the great evils of this era.

That is why it is easier, on many occasions, to say that I go to the doctor, instead of saying that I go to the psychiatrist (although I calmly say that I go to the dentist when I go to the dentist); it is easier to give the prescription of the medicine than to talk when at the pharmacy they ask me ‘what do you need’; It is easier to say that I am difficult of times when they invite me to do something and they simply do not give me the strength.

Only one tool I can think of to ward off this discomfort of my own and others: words.

And that is why this week, on the occasion of the commemoration of World Day to Combat Depression, I neither go to the doctor nor am I difficult of times. I choose to share five relatively disconnected experiences about my personal process in the hope that, through words, the day will come when speaking about this disease in the first person does not feel indecent, indecent, uncomfortable. That is not scary. May it heal rather than make you uncomfortable.

“I don’t know who I am. My name doesn’t mean anything to me anymore”

It is difficult to grow up thinking that you are going to eat the world and, suddenly, be 30 years old and that nothing around you makes sense. May the forces give you (in the best of cases) to get out of bed. Taking a shower requires a crazy effort. That everything you worked for does not cause you any kind of satisfaction. And that no light is seen at the end of the tunnel.

That’s what happened to me. It wasn’t overnight. She was doing therapy, but at one point it became clear that it was not enough. And I ended up in front of the psychiatrist, in tears befitting the prolonged sadness that characterizes depression, telling him the same things that he has probably already heard hundreds of times and leaving with a prescription in hand that he has probably already written hundreds of times. (By the way, I entered the office in anguish and left in anguish but, even in part, also relaxed: what happens to me has a scientific explanation and treatment, and I already took the most difficult step to start feeling better)

You could try to explain the feeling of emptiness in endless ways. But Uruguay (where, by the way, the suicide rate is one of the highest de América) has the good fortune to count, among all the exceptional writers in his collection, with Idea Vilariño, and his words explain it better: “I don’t know who I am. My name no longer tells me anything. I don’t know what I’m doing. Nothing it has more to do with nothing. Neither do I have to do with anything. This is exactly how it felt.

Three and a half million technical directors … and psychiatrists

In my country, which has almost 3 and a half million inhabitants and where the maracanazo continues to be the national feat par excellence, we love to comment on football … even if we don’t know. And that’s why a popular saying states that there are three million technical directors (if I wanted to be exact, I should now say three and a half million).

When I started treatment with antidepressants, I was fortunate that my family and a good part of my friends were deeply sensitized and quickly knew how to accompany me: from constant presence (even if mine was not), from tireless listening, from patience . However, outside the inner circle, the reality was not so simple … because where there are three and a half million technical directors, obviously there are also three and a half million psychologists and psychiatrists.

I have not counted how many times I heard, throughout this time, phrases that began with What you have to do is … and ended as an infinity of variants. At best they were concrete: working fewer hours, going out in the sun, reducing time in front of the computer. For the most part, however, they were of a care less, relax, enjoy more level of abstraction.

I have no doubt that these tips were based on the best of intentions. But those tips, often accompanied by lessons, the only thing they did was make me feel worse, as if I did not feel good because I simply did not decide to do it.

That is why it is not only important to want to help, you have to know how to do it, and listening carefully but avoiding opinions and judgments is part of the key, experts explain.

Fighting my worst monster: guilt

A person once told me that if I had real problems, I wouldn’t have time to be depressed. In other words, that I could afford to be depressed because the rest was settled: family and friends, health, work, home.

(I overlook the mistake of opposing a real problem to depression, when this is, to mention just one of its consequences, the biggest cause of disability in the world).

Of all the painful reasoning, that one took the prize. And if it hurt, I know, it is because it hit one of the symptoms that hit me the hardest: guilt (yes, in the long list of possible symptoms, guilt claims its place).

My great-grandmother, who arrived on a ship between the war, did not spend weeks barely getting out of bed: she got on with it. My mother, who started working at the age of 14, never spent weeks with a messy house and without the strength to cook because she had three children to raise: she got ahead.

And I, with everything solved, so I am. Then I must be to blame. I must be weak, ungrateful, and unable to enjoy (symptom alert: low self-esteem).

Disarticulating guilt is one of the great battles.

The day I returned to enjoy the sad city

I’ve been feeling really better lately. But some fears don’t go away. The biggest of them: Am I getting better or do I feel that way simply from the medication? What will happen if I leave it? (as usual, explains the Mayo Clinic, episodes of depression are repeated throughout life. Any decision to stop medication, experts explain, should be consulted with healthcare providers).

And when something does not work, no matter how minimal, the alerts are lit: is it a bad day or is it the beginning of a setback? (Because, of course, something that accompanies this happy process is overthinking, always overthinking).

But, fears aside, the truth is that lately I feel frankly better. And I returned to enjoy. And I decided to treasure, in the form of a photo, post it or scribble, the wonders that I am being able to see again, such as, for example, the sunset from the window of the house in this “sad city of ships and emigrants”, as another of our prides writes. nationals, Cristina Peri Rossi, in her poem “Montevideo” (enjoying sad things seems to be a deeply Uruguayan trait).

A single certainty

In all this process I have a single certainty: there is no possible return. Even if you were to live 120 years, break the record for the oldest living woman in the world, and display your joy and vitality, there is no way you can begin to write on a pristine white page.

I would want? If today I was given the chance to erase my memory, in the style of the tape “Eternal radiance of a mind without memories”, I think the answer would be no. Because when everything was going well, when my life progressed ticking boxes as I was supposed to tick, I was unable to imagine, much less understand, that the person next to me on the bench in class, at the desk at work or Zoom’s screen could be having a hard time even if it wasn’t noticeable from the outside. If everything seemed to be resolved, then everything was resolved. And if all was resolved, there was no room for weakness or, God forbid, error.

Today I no longer take it for granted. Do you mean that I am as pending as I should? What am I really empathic? Hopefully yes, but not yet. What it does mean is that I understand, firsthand, that no one is free to fall into a depression and that, if that happens, I want to be there stripped of all taboos or prejudices.

I had to learn it the hard way, I doubt I would have learned it any other way. May this growing chorus of voices help others learn it painlessly through and that one day I will no longer be afraid or ashamed to say the word depression aloud.



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