[FOUNTAIN]Depression does not discriminate“I have everything a girl could ever hope for. I am young, beautiful and rich. I am not lonely because I am loved by many people. Then why do I feel empty and unhappy?” said Marilyn Monroe, the legendary American actress who killed herself in 1962. When she was discovered in her apartment dead from a drug overdose, one of her arms was stretched towards the telephone as if she wanted to call someone for help. Playwright Arthur Miller, the third husband of Ms. Monroe, had made the most effort to rescue the depressed actress. He later recalled that she would not stop her dance on the edge of her personal cliff, and while he did all he could to help her, it was not successful.
Ms. Monroe suffered from depression. Just as we refer to the condition as “the mental cold,” it is easy to get depression and get over it as well. The problem is that just like a common cold could be a start of other illnesses, depression can develop into more serious mental conditions that can make a person suicidal. Everyone becomes depressed from tragedy, and when you feel blue for an extended period, it could develop into a mental condition. Psychologists advise that you seek professional help when the blues last longer than two weeks. If you are healthy, you can get over a common cold after a few days. Similarly, a healthy mind can shake off the blues soon.
The word “melancholy” originates from the four humors theory of Hippocrates. Over 25 centuries ago, Hippocrates argued that four bodily fluids, blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile, had to be synchronized in a human body. When the black bile increases, you are more likely to get melancholy according to the theory. “Melancholy” means “black bile” in Greek. At the turn of 20th century, Sigmund Freud concluded that depression was an expression of suppressed anger. Everyone has a risk of suffering from depression. Having too much of a good thing can make you feel lacking, and stars like Ms. Monroe, who seem to have everything, can feel empty and enervated internally.
Late actress Lee Eun-ju had the beauty, talent and income that anyone would envy. But she might have felt that she was not good enough. Look at the people around you, especially those who have so much and seem happy externally. They might desperately need your help.
by Oh Byung-sang
The writer is the JoongAng Ilbo’s London correspondent.