I am a 53-year old man who has been declared officially disabled for almost a decade now. I never really cared much for labels, but if our society deems it important for governmental reasons to put one on me, then, indeed, that's me.
I had worked for about two decades in a myriad of jobs such as sales, marketing, public relations, media production and the like. It was difficult for me to keep a job as I had depression, at least that is what I was "labeled" to have. I had been treated with antidepressants and talk therapy for many years but was not getting better. Finally, I was told I could not work, that "I was too depressed".
Now I had a lot of time on my hands so I began studying depression. It did not take me long to discover a disease called "TRD" or labeled by the psychiatric community, "treatment resistant depression". I was one of the few lucky ones who received the only treatment for it, a vagus nerve implant. You see, TRD is actually not a mental illness, in and of itself, but a faulty vagus nerve, of which I had, will mimic the signs of depression, lethargy, etc. After I received the treatment, my life took dramatic changes.
Though I am still labeled "disabled" by many, I have found that the Internet has leveled the playing field. I say that a bit facetiously and with a bit of sarcasm, because, during my "depressed state", I was keenly aware of the discrimination targeted my way, though those who were being discriminating were not aware of my awareness. I guess they thought people with depression or any disability don't have awareness or intelligence. We do.
So I thought it was the end of the world when my work days in corporate America came to an end.
How would I ever survive on disability? I did. One learns to adjust. But there are some painful growth moments in that adjustment. But it was all worth it.
With extra time on my hands, I learned to "nearly master" the Internet. I started a cartoon project with no money, Londons Times Cartoons which in less than a decade became the most visited offbeat cartoon site on the Internet (and still is). It's rankings keep growing and by the end of this month we will have had 9 million visitors within the past two years. That may not sound like much but for a cartoon site it is. Most cartoons on the Internet last from 3-6 months and the others are gone within a year.
I opened two cartoon gift mega-stores and six niche funny gift shops. Sales remain brisk. I have affiliates through my manufacturer 3drose, many of them on Amazon and they sell plenty as well.
I create all sorts of products with my cartoons on them; greeting cards, t-shirts, jogging suits, mouse pads, coffee mugs, beer steins, wall and desk clock, baseball caps, and, you name it, we make it.
All this is due to research on the Internet and making phone calls. Oddly enough, a disabled person, and that person is me, can write a lucid, professional email, talk on the phone professionally, create a social network and blog professionally, and write articles, hopefully professionally. The old boy network, who was once so involved in keeping a stigma attached to depression and/or disability is out of the picture now. I have no excuses anymore not to succeed. I deal with people who want me to succeed, and it helps them succeed.
When I create a new cartoon product, I generally create at least ten new jobs from artistry, to manufacturing, to drop-shipping, to heat press digital reproduction, to courier, etc. And I do it all
from my home.
Oh, and this disabled person (that is, me) finished three years of business college online, at an accredited university at age 52. I am 53 now and plan to return next year to finish and go for an MBA.
Again, on the Internet. Why waste time with people who are more concerned with "labeling" me so as to put parameters on my limitations, than those who know me just as a person and helping me succeed.
I am not saying a depressed or disabled person should hide behind his or her computer all day, I spend plenty of time interacting with people, handing out business cards, going on talk shows, and doing as much as I can in the public.
Labeling is a bad thing. Have you ever noticed that a person with a mental illness or physical disability is the only person labeled by his illness or disease? If a person has cancer, we don't say "He's cancerous", or if a person has diabetes, I've yet to hear, "There goes Mr. High Blood Sugar!". But if a person has depression, 100% of the time "He/she's depressed" or "has depression" or "mental illness". That usually puts an end to the conversation as the stigma remains and many don't want to know much more. That is ashamed.
It might do them good to go to some of the famous people with depression websites such as
[http://www.geocities.com/coverbridge2k/artsci/famous_people_depression.html] , or http://www.angelfire.com/mn2/illstandbyyou/famous.html . I am always surprised to see my name on each of the pages. There are hundreds of them; simply Google "famous people with depression". My name sits right there usually next to Abraham Lincoln or Elton John.
So you see, depression is considered a disability. But when you read the names on these websites and see who is or was depressed, it truly makes you wonder, first, why there is such a negative connotation attached to the label, and secondly, why the label even exists.