Breaking the rule

Published 9:58 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2018

By Nathan Rice

I’ve never seen “Fight Club,” the 1999 moving starring Brad Pitt, or read the book on which it was based, but I can still tell you the first rule of Fight Club. “You DO NOT talk about Fight Club.” Unfortunately, many who battle depression follow this same rule.

I understand the reason behind this unspoken rule. Depression can be a tough topic to discuss. Deciding to share my battle with depression in such a public forum was a very difficult decision. This article was submitted before the other articles in the series were published, so as I type this I still have no idea how they will be received. I’m not sure how my friends, co-workers and those in my church will react. The uncertainty of how people will react is why a lot of those who deal with depression keep it to themselves.

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There is a concern that an admission of depression will make others see them as mentally unstable. There are certainly some who suffer from mental disorders or diseases who also suffer from depression, but not all who battle depression have other mental disorders. Most who battle depression are strong, competent and capable people. There have been great military leaders, mighty pastors and evangelists, strong business executives, and outstanding community activists who have admitted to wrestling with the dog of depression. Depression does not mean that someone is weak, almost ready to “snap,” or unable to handle the responsibilities of life.

An admission of depression doesn’t mean that someone is looking for pity or that they expect you to change how you act around them. No one likes to be patronized, and you don’t have to treat someone who battles depression as if they are about to break. There’s no need to act like you’re attending a funeral every time you speak to them.

One of my goals for this series of articles was to start a discussion on depression. I am glad that October is National Depression Awareness Month, but we must be more than just aware that depression exists.

Those who battle depression should not be ashamed to admit their struggle. I know it can be difficult to admit and even harder to discuss, but we can’t blame others for their lack of understanding or their misplaced assumptions if we refuse to share.

On the other hand, those who don’t battle depression must be willing to listen and attempt to understand. I know it can be hard to understand how someone can be sad for “no reason” or when things are going well. It’s hard to fully understand something you’ve never experienced.

I’ve done my best throughout this series to give some insights into my own battle, express to those who have never experienced depression how an attack from the dog of depression can feel, and share some things that I have learned along my journey.

Let this be a springboard to a better understanding of depression both for those who battle the dog of depression and for those who never have more than an occasional case of the blues.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number is 800-273-8255.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at