Depression’s certainly on the national agenda: celebrities ‘admit’ to having it (always a telling interesting turn of phrase), politicians make errors of judgement because of it; we hear about it everywhere we turn. It’s so common, it must surely have reached “cute” status by now, right?
Here’s another Aussie icon which many consider cute:
Yep, that’s it, the cuddly, sweet-faced koala.
Well, let me tell you a few things about these apparent teddy bears:
- their mating cries sound like a banshee being tortured by a vampire who’s enraged having been bitten by a werewolf – and that’s when they’re in a good mood
- despite sleeping up to 20 hours a day, koalas can exhibit very aggressive behaviour
- they have claws which are capable of injuring people to the point of death.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the little beasties, and certainly more koalas are killed by dogs and cats or by collisions with cars than people experience koala attacks, but the picture postcards don’t tell the whole story.
Koalas are capable of cute viciousness. And this is where I think they represent one facet of depression.
When we hear about something all the time, we might think we understand it, right? Take quantum mechanics, for example. Most people have heard of it, many would profess to having some understanding of it, but I estimate there are probably only around 1500 people living in Australia today who could truly say they have a genuine and comprehensive understanding of the topic – but that doesn’t stop it being referenced in everything from New Age literature to pop culture. There’s nothing wrong with this: no-one gets hurt because people think they understand quantum mechanics.
Depression, on the other hand: many people get hurt because others think they understand depression. A person might not look like a stereotypical sufferer, and friends might say, “Great to see you’re over it!” when in fact their illness persists. Someone might come out of hospital, and loved ones might assume they’re better; stunnedandstunted wrote about this recently – but being discharged from hospital doesn’t mean you’re necessarily ‘cured’. People are often surprised, after a suicide, because “He seemed so normal the day before.”
My suggestion: don’t be fooled by appearances, or become complacent because of familiarity. Depression can be a vicious, deadly condition to live with.
Don’t let depression become a koala in your life.