We have a wide age range of members who come to MyDepressionConnection for information and support about how to cope with their depression. We have members who are teens and we have members and writers who are in their 70’s and beyond. It has me wondering as to whether or not depression is experienced differently as we age. Or can there be more similarities than differences? Is it necessarily helpful to categorize people by “young” or “old” when it comes to dealing with depression? I am 46 years old as I write this post. Does my age make me the poster “child” for middle –aged depression in women? Must we segregate ourselves into demographics in order to find someone who understands what we are going through? Or is there wisdom to be gained from all age groups when it comes to learning how to cope with depression? These are just some of the questions I will be pondering within this post.
Since we are talking about age I am going to start off this post with a question: At what age would you consider a person to be old? Or let me put it another way, at what age is a person no longer young? Where is that cut off point?
My personal theory is that "old" is always 10-20 years older than you are right now.
One of my relatives is in his mid-eighties. You would never guess his age though. He is still working at his job as a professor, does yoga, and makes stained glass windows in his spare time. Age has certainly not hindered his ability to enjoy his life. In many ways my elderly relative seems younger than some of the people I know who are considered chronologically young. I asked him what it was like to be over 80. He said, "The 80's are just like the 70's it is just more people are astonished that you are still alive." When asked about what age he considers to be "old" he answers, 105. I laughed at having my age perception theory validated.
How we view age depends on how old we are at the time of our reflection.
When I was 14 I thought that my best friend’s sister who was 17 was so old. That age seemed light years away. When I turned 20 I mourned no longer being a teen-ager. Twenty-five seemed especially hard for me. At that time there was a Newsweek with a cover about Jane Pauley, and how she started on the Today show at age 25. I felt unsuccessful by comparison. At that time I had a graduate degree and working for a mental hospital but my workplace was a church basement. It seems silly now but I wondered, “What am I doing with my life?” When I was 29 I had my first son and then at 31 I had another baby boy. My thirties were a blur of taking care of my boys, moving, and coping with my youngest son’s diagnosis of autism. There was very little time for reflecting on my age. Now that I am in my forties I think about how lucky I am to be here. There were times when I almost lost my battle to depression. When I do think about growing older I feel hope. I have survived so much that I know I can do it again. I have ceased, for the most part, to compare ages and focus more on the present.