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Stuart Katz

Depression: The Rollercoaster Ride That Never Goes Up

Depression often feels like a roller coaster that only goes down.
Depression often feels like a roller coaster that only goes down.

Every person I’ve met with a mental illness seems to be a fascinating puzzle of uniqueness. It’s incredible how they can surprise you with their hidden battles, like having OCD or facing the darkness of contemplating suicide. It’s like they have this hidden side, but instead of saving the world, they’re simply trying to make it through the day without burning down their sock drawer. They truly are remarkable individuals – my heroes.

But why do we feel the need to put on a mask? Are we influenced by those who want to silence us? Or are we simply afraid of the judgment and criticism that might rain down if we don’t pretend everything is perfect? I mean, seriously, who wants to listen to Doda Malka’s opinions on the color of your shoes when she can’t even coordinate her socks?

Let’s be real here, living with depression requires a colossal effort. Even the simplest tasks, like brushing your teeth, can feel like an Olympic event. You have a job to handle, bills to pay, and a fridge that thinks it’s playing hide-and-seek with the milk. When you’re physically ill, everyone rushes to offer flowers or a pasta or cake, “Get Well Soon” cards, and enough chicken soup to feed a small army. But when it comes to mental illness, it can be as lonely as being trapped in an invisible box, like a mime without an escape route. The pain isn’t visible on an X-ray or an MRI, but it clings to your soul, causing immense suffering.

Living in that perpetual cycle of feeling like you’ll never improve is like being on a rollercoaster that only goes down. You put in more effort than a squirrel on a hamster wheel, yet sometimes it seems like you’re just going in circles. Sure, putting in the work is crucial for progress, but it’s not an overnight miracle. As I so often hear, it’s more of a marathon than a sprint, a winding road filled with unexpected obstacles that can feel like slipping on banana peels or sitting on whoopee cushions.

And let’s not forget about medications! Those tiny pills that promise rainbows and unicorns in your life. Sadly, they don’t always work like magic wands. So, you become an explorer of pharmaceutical options, trying one after another, like a kid in a candy store experimenting with brain chemistry. It’s a game of trial and error, where your sanity hangs in the balance. Talk about a challenging game night!

But here’s the thing: happiness comes with a price. We must ask ourselves how much effort we’re willing to invest in our well-being. We can’t give up just because someone with a PhD in Ignorance claims we’re choosing to be depressed. It’s not a choice we make, and it’s certainly not easy. It’s like being handed a rusty spoon and told to dig a hole to a distant land. Some days, your illness might get the upper hand, and that’s okay. We’re only human, after all. What truly matters are the good days, the ones that bring hope and guide us towards a brighter future, where we can tell depression to take a hike.

So, let’s remember this: mental illness isn’t a choice, but how we approach our experiences in life is. We may not have control over the cards we’re dealt, but we can decide how to play them. As we navigate this wild rollercoaster ride, let’s continue to show kindness to ourselves and others. Laughter and understanding are our secret weapons against ignorance and stigma. Try to keep that smile on your face, keep fighting, and never forget that you’re never alone in this maze we call life. Shavua Tov – wishing all a great week – one day – one hour – one minute at a time.

About the Author
Stuart is a co-founder of the Nafshenu Alenu mental health educational initiative founded in 2022. He currently serves on the Board of Visitors of McLean Hospital, affiliated with Harvard University Medical School. He serves as Chairman of the Board of OGEN – Advancement of Mental Health Awareness in Israel; chairman of Mental Health First Aid Israel and a partner in “Deconstructing Stigma” in Israel. He is on the Board of Directors of the Religious Conference Management Association. He has counseled over 7,000 individuals and families in crisis
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