Anniversary Events Can Spark Depression

Christopher Lukas Health Guide

    I am writing this on September 11th. As the date approached, I wondered if I would react to the bombing of the World Trade Center towers with increased depression, or would I take this as just another day in the life of a somewhat depressed individual.
    It's been a fairly rough year, all things considered. Chemotherapy for my perpetually returning non-Hodgkins lymphoma, followed by double pneumonia, and then the sudden, unexpected (and unexplained) death of my wife. It would not be surprising if the anniversary of a traumatic event would send me spiraling down.

    But it hasn't, not so far.


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    I've been listening to the radio commemorations, to the bloviating politicians, and the psychologists explaining how to deal with the collapse of the towers to young children.
    I've been thinking about my own childhood and the trauma I suffered when my mother killed herself (I was six years old), and the other suicides in my family.
    I've been trying to figure out how to be happy about my upcoming book publication party on Monday the 15th. Blue Genes will have been well out by the time you are reading this, and I'll know whether it's receiving the kind of readership I'd like.
    Given that I'm a chronic depressive, though, I'm not sure I can accept the pleasure of good reviews and lots of sales; I think I will revert to type - to downplaying whatever success I have. I will wish that my wife were here to share the success with me, and I will damn the medical profession for not rescuing her. I will play with my grandson and hug my daughters, but I will not be able to escape the 65 years of depression: the part of me that says "Oh, things have been bad. They'll never get better."

    On the radio, a psychologist is explaining that you need to tell children the "whole story" about September 11th: You have to tell them that, yes, some bad people came over in planes and crashed into the towers, and the towers fell. But then you have to tell them that many, many people survived that disaster, and that their parents and the rest of the country are striving to defend them against any such future disaster. In short, you have to tell them that the world is not a totally bad place; that their future can hold many bright objects.

    I agree. Tell the children that story. But I don't know how to hear it.  And that's one of the legacies of depression. On the other hand:


    • What about all the people who tell me that I'm an optimistic sort; that I'm always thinking tomorrow something good will happen?
    • How does that fit in with the sour dysthymic?
    • What about the fact that I can think of new ideas, new videos to produce, new books to write, and that I jump out of bed in the morning and get to work? How does that fit in?

    Is that why I, almost alone of all the members of my family of origin, have not thought of suicide?


Published On: October 19, 2008