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Depression: What's humility got to do with it?

humility: \hyü-ˈmi-lə-tē, yü-\

1 : the quality or state of being humble

humble: \həm-bəl\

1 : not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive

2 : reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission

3 a : ranking low in a hierarchy or scale b : not costly or luxurious

The upside of depression – and pretty much any mental illness – is that it will wipe out any pride, arrogance and self-importance you had before your fall. It’s not easy to be your old pompous, pretentious, highfalutin self after going through a major depression. Ditto for bipolar.

When you are in a depression you learn the true meaning of humility – to remain teachable – whether you want to or not. Only through humility could I get well. Sure, the medications helped lift me from my black hole and my mood stabilizer calmed me down, but to become truly healthy I had to become humble.

I spent most of my life trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps whenever I sank into my black hole. I made no effort to calm myself when I vibrated with mania. I can handle this, I thought. Then came “The Big One.” I could not lift myself and I refused to listen to anyone – even my therapist – who told me I was in a major clinical depression and needed medications. I was NOT going to take antidepressants. I was not the kind of woman who took antidepressants. I was above that. I was strong. I just needed to work harder and exercise harder and get off my freakin’ pity pot.


I was like a little baby. Help me, please. Someone, help me. I could not focus. I could not eat. I could not sleep. I could not read or write. All I wanted was to curl up in a little ball. Everything was flat. I did not know what to do to help myself. I had to take off my cape and…gulp…ask for help. Then I had to admit that I knew damn near nothing about depression. Finally, I became willing to learn about my depression and bipolar.

I learned I needed medication and that medication was not a sign of weakness anymore than insulin is a sign of weakness for a diabetic. I learned I needed to retire my cape. I learned to ask for help. I learned and learned and learned. I surfed the web looking for information about depression and bipolar. I talked to others with mental illness. I asked questions of doctors, psychologists and therapists. I wanted to know any shred of knowledge that would keep me from ever sinking into my black hole again.

Three years out from my latest depression I am still learning. Google sends me alerts everyday with articles on depression, bipolar and alcoholism. I watch programs  on mental illness or with mentally ill characters. I listen to others and what worked and did not work for them.

I learned some humility.


Depression: What's humility got to do with it?

Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a journalist for 35 years. She is now an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. In 2006, began writing a blog for PsychCentral called Depression on My Mind. Her latest blog, Addiction Matters, draws on her 19 years of sobriety and her coverage of the drug treatment industry in South Florida.

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APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2010). Depression: What's humility got to do with it?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from


Last updated: 18 Jan 2010
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