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Depression: It’s Not a Chemical Imbalance. It’s a Lack of Discipline. NOT

sign to the jerk centerThere are some truly annoying people in the world. Among the biggest jerks are those who refuse to believe that mental illnesses are real. I know one of these folks. He’s a control freak. He’s right. Always right. It’s his way or the highway. There is no telling him – or even suggesting to him – anything. I think the reason I find him so annoying is that is used to be a lot like him. A lot.

Then I fell into a deep depression. One of the few – maybe the only thing about hitting bottom – is that it gives you an open mind. You can no longer hang onto your humongous ego. The harder you try, the more it hurts. As you are holding on with a death grip, you become even more annoying and controlling. You’re not just right about everything, you win every argument and then spike your opponent’s opinion in the end zone while doing a little happy dance.

You see, for us – the uber-correct omniscient few –  it’s all about discipline and hard work. If you people with depression would just get a little discipline, suck it up, you wouldn’t be so “depressed” or pathetic. Stop your whining. Get off your pity pot and get to work.

When we – the uber-correct omniscient few – fall, we fall very, very hard. Knock-the-wind-out-of-you kind of hard. We are left with two choices: Stay where we are or say the three most difficult words to speak in our vocabulary: “Help me, please.” Then we learn that mental illness, and I’m throwing in addiction and alcoholism, is not about sloth or a lack of discipline.

I chuckle now when I hear people someone says that the mentally ill are just lazy and undisciplined. I keep my mouth shut but I’m thinking – “You want to see discipline? What I used to do before 9 am would put you in ICU, buddy. You want to see discipline? I’ve got your discipline right here.”

This guy jabbering about my lack of discipline has a wife at home who does the grocery shopping, cooks three square meals a day, cleans the house and irons his shirts. Somebody mows his lawn and washes his car. Hey, buddy, I do all that stuff AND I hold down a full-time job. Who you callin’ undisciplined?

There’s no sense of arguing with this guy. He wins every argument. I let him finish and then I say three little words: “I have depression” or “I have alcoholism.”

That usually puts a damper on his happy dance.


Photo by Sarah Ackerman, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.

Depression: It’s Not a Chemical Imbalance. It’s a Lack of Discipline. NOT

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. (2011). Depression: It’s Not a Chemical Imbalance. It’s a Lack of Discipline. NOT. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Sep 2011
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