Wow, Glenn. I first want to thank you for sharing this and expressing my sorrow that your mother dealt with severe depression. This poem is honest in an unapologetic way - as it should be when speaking about how serious depression is, that it can be as debilitating as anything else.
Sometimes, I want to be ignorant and say that some truly don't understand depression, that it can be different for everyone and it's not always "textbook definition". From my experience, people may not notice day-to-day either because they have their own inner demons to deal with, don't have the patient or want to learn how to help, or really believe the act that so many people living with mental illness put on. That "I'm okay".
I've seen both sides. I don't think the majority should always be on other people to "know the signs" or that if they had just reached out, the person dealing with depression would have been fine. Because even I know firsthand that even if everyone around me is truly there for me and I have the resources, depression tells me I don't deserve it, or I shouldn't burden them.
It's like you can't win at times, but I did like the very blunt openness here and almost that calling for more awareness. I do agree that mental illness and any kind of mental pain can be visible to those who understand slight or subtle changes, or who realize when a person is genuine fine and when they are trying to convince themselves and others. I also know there is no simple fix or solution. And to this day, I still know people who would be confused and baffled as to why middle-class people who seemingly "have" the support and grounding still may suffer. Mental illness spans across race, class, age, gender, etc. It does not discriminate.
Mental illness is so tricky because I feel people are still constantly comparing it. Or undermining it. Or people fooling themselves, perhaps out of fear, into thinking that only those who are in bed every day are the ones who are really suffering, when there IS a medical term for high-functioning depression, and so many other forms of it. I am of the same opinion that it is certainly not unfair to compare depression to a terminal illness. Yes, there may be depressive episodes, and maybe they do come and go or symptoms can be managed, but pain is pain. Suffering is suffering. There is no use battling over who's is more worthy or needing support, when all kinds of pain need support and need to be adhered to.
A very moving write, Glenn. Thanks again for sharing.
I'm not sure I ever had anyone understand any of my poems better than you have this one. Those who are depressed try so hard to hide it, they are too embarrassed to ask for help. When they get locked up and are so full of medication and have had shock therapy it becomes so hard to visit and have to see them that way. My mother and others use to tongue and cheek medicine, hide it and then overdose. We all love our families but you cannot leave visiting those buildings the same way you went in, that is what makes it's so difficult to go visit and and makes it's so easy to find something you may find more important.......the sadness and pain of visits take us down, but those of us who go, never stop loving them.