How do I overcome depression?

Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield released new data recently that shows surging rates of depression across all age groups. Specifically, it showed a huge uptick in rates of Major Depressive Disorder from 2013 to 2016.

The problem with research is that by the time it’s collected, organized, and presented, it’s often two years later. It’s important to note though that this study is based on data collected only from folks privately insured through Anthem (a sample of what we typically refer to as “middle class” America).

Is anyone surprised that rates of depression are increasing? One would have to be at least a little naïve or out of touch to be even phased by this finding. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that the data they release from 2016-2018 will show even higher rates.

Of course, whenever a study like this comes out, a number of psychiatric experts position themselves in front of cameras to explain why it’s the media’s/social media’s/screen time/video games fault, and/or any number of other convenient scapegoats.

My Facebook will then explode with a series of memes that range from, “Try getting over it!” to “It’s because of the ways liberals parent” to “It’s because of big pharma!”

Culturally, we have a lot of ideas about who to blame and very few about what the solutions are.

The worst of expert and layperson theories alike will be that rising rates of depression are due to increasing rates of addiction, which is exactly backwards thinking.

Addiction is most often the result of attempting to cope with mental illness and trauma through unhealthy means.

The central causality of increased rates of mental illness and addiction are decreasing degrees of connection (to self, to family, to community at every level).

So, to put it simply: If we’re gonna get better, we gotta get together.

But maybe you’re like me…and you don’t… fit in…to the mainstream…or seemingly to any established group. Maybe you listen to Echosmith and think about how it’s not so different now than it was in high school in terms of who and how we relate.

Maybe you’re like me and your depression is a product of an ADD rattled brain, a hypervigilant nature, and an overly empathic heart. You’re aware of too many things and you’re a sponge. You take in other people’s pain and it weighs you down. Maybe you experience compassion fatigue because your cup is empty and you don’t let anyone close enough to refill it.

Learning self-care and setting boundaries will help a lot with that.

If you’re like me, you find most people disappointing but you can’t say that out loud because it sounds arrogant as f@ck. You’ve probably seen a meme about how normal people are boring and only the freaks are interesting, but nobody tells you where to find the freaks and we don’t walk around wearing tee shirts that identify us.

Maybe we should.

I think that somewhere between my hair, tattoos, jewelry and prosthetic, I’m doing a pretty good job of revealing myself but a lot of us are still out there passing for normal.

If you’re going to “find your tribe” you have to stop pretending. I know, I know, that’s terrifying but it’s true. You’ve got to move away from what you think you’re “supposed to” do and be and start concerning yourself with what you need and truly want.

I don’t want to be normal. I can’t think of anything more self-limiting to be.

I didn’t know my “tribe” was in the halls of AA and NA. I didn’t know to look in psych hospitals and group therapy sessions, or homeless shelters. I didn’t know to look in Al Anon or Nar Anon or anywhere people are being of service to those in need. I didn’t know about community recovery centers like the Bangor Area Recovery Network

But now I do and now you do too.

I’m gonna keep getting better. How about you?

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.