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How Is Depression Like the Post Office?


No, this is not the beginning to a joke; rather, it is a reflection on my trip to the post office yesterday.

As I stood in the outer room waiting in line, I noticed lots of worn things. The pictures on the walls hadn’t been changed in years. Even the Wanted Posters were not up to date. Here and there appeared evidence of the effort to move with the times: how to print stamps, how to mail your packages and track them on line. The one postal clerk who was there to give personal help looked like he was ready to call it a day when it was just a bit past noon. He was facing a long line of people and had no help. It was at this point that I realized that I was looking at what the state of help is like for those with brain illnesses.

When we look at how depression and other brain illnesses are treated, a great deal has not changed. Doctors are treating people with brain illnesses, those with depression, like the worn post office room, treating it as if there are no new ways of doing things.  “We’ve done it this way and we can continue to do it this way” is not a mantra of change and imagination. The post office is going broke on such a mantra.

Although there has been work done on the stigma of mental illness, too many people carry it in their heads and keep up the old wanted pictures, the pictures of the crazy people with mental illness devoid of family and obviously with a real behavior problem. The people who think this way deal with the depressed in the ways they have been dealt with in the past, offering a possible fix but no hope that things might be different.

Sure just like the post office, there are the new references to moving with the times – psychiatrists and psychologists who are trying new and innovative approaches to dealing with depression and other brain illnesses. But there are not enough and you often have to really look to spot where those new approaches are and then you have to hope that those approaches are covered by your insurance.

And the postal clerk? He’s all the professionals who really want to make a change but are often understaffed and overworked and just burnt out.

We all know the post office system is in trouble. So many changes due to technology, so many poor business decisions in running the system, so much bad morale. It’s so much like those of us who live and work with people who are depressed or suffer from another brain illness. We hear of so many changes, changes that would be positive for the treatment of so many, but we watch as poor decisions are made that keep people from getting the treatment they need. It doesn’t help our morale. But like the postal clerk who comes in every morning, we will continue to speak out and work toward making the changes that need to be made to brighten the outcome of families across the country who deal with wicked brain illnesses.

– Bernadette


3 Responses

  1. Great post and analogy……..I just wish it weren’t true!

  2. You’re so correct. The system is antiquated and will never change I feel those who want to help are hampered by the opportunist who prey upon those who need help while oppressing those who really want to help. If it works for the opportunist; why really change anything? Buy their medications and follow their protocol. Maybe I understood your post and maybe I construed it towards my view point? Either way, your post is very well written and was a joy to read. A Well done. Thank you!

  3. This was depressing.

    Also, Canada is in the process of eliminating its postal service. Using your analogy, it’s not exactly a red-letter day.

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