When I was growing up, we were privileged enough to grow up with several exchange students, from Japan.
My parents could not afford to take me to the culture, but they did their best to bring culture and diversity to me.
I learned a great many things from these beautiful people. One of those things I learned was that the Japanese don’t have a word for depression as an individual illness.
Later the word Koroko No Kaze was coined by pharmaceutical companies, to aid in distribution of anti-depressants.
Translated, Koroko No Kaze means, one’s heart/ soul is ill with a cold, to encourage people to seek medical help if needed, just as you would a cold. But until then, the language of individual depression did not exist.
They have words for individual grief, loss and sadness, there are different words for profound grief loss and sadness, but when it came to depression for an individual, the words do not exist, because such feelings for one individual are seen and felt as a collective.
It was explained to me as, No war against forces unseen and without title are won alone. If the soul of the mother next to you is not in harmony and happiness, then there is unrest among all souls around her. This is considered a community issue, as the happiness and harmony of the group is valued higher than ones individual happiness. If one is unhappy, all are unhappy.
It is not that depression does not exist in Japan, but depression in an individual is seen and is described as a spiritual affliction. The treatment for spiritual affliction is addressed by the group, Family, friends, neighbours, strangers.
If one soul is crying, then the community will help the individual address this sadness, to aid personal reflection and offer guidance, support and clarity to the individual until the collective spiritual balance is corrected.
I’ve written about my experience with PND, sometimes I feel like I have written it to death, and then I will remember something and I will have to write it down, usually in blog post form.
I then have a mild freak out and hover over the publish button for about three days before I just hit publish and sent it off into the internets with my eyes closed and fingers crossed, thinking of all the people I just willingly put myself in front of, for potential judgment and I want to move to Japan.
Sometimes it comes, but mostly not.
What I have found is so many women and men, too many women and men, can relate. Putting those feelings into print, and trying to articulate the feelings and thoughts that have no English dictionary definition, making them up to be understood.
I have had hundreds of emails, tweets and correspondence with people who have read some of the posts I have written about my experience, they respond with a resounding thank you for giving me the words to explain to my mother, father, husband how I felt.
I thank them back; More than anyone can know unless I write it down.
Thank god it wasn’t just me who felt that, thought that. If one person understands how I felt, if one person identified, I become we.
I fought a battle that I felt no one had fought before me and won. I fought a war against spiritual unrest, things I could not see, a war against things I felt and thought.
I was at war with myself, for myself.
Putting it in writing, or in an honest conversation, I found that there were many fighting in this war.
I was not alone; people had fought before me, around me, beside me. People were fighting in different degrees of combat, next to me on the train, mothers at the park, strangers at the supermarket, neighbours, lovers, and people.
There were many who had won the battle too, I found they had learned combat strategy, they knew ways to win against thoughts and feelings that had no name, and could not be seen, and although a battle against depression must be fought within you, and there is never a need to fight by yourself.
Share your stories.
Share your feelings.
Be brutally and vulnerably honest, you may think that there is no word for your thoughts and feelings, because no one else has ever had those thoughts or feelings. There are others, they just don’t know what it’s called either.
Make up the words if you need to, in text if you can, in conversation if you can’t, because every time you give a name to these things, someone else has a name for what it is they are battling.
No wars against forces unseen and without title are won alone.
There may not have been a word for depression in Japan, but they do have a word for support of the soul, I am not sure how it is correctly spelt, but it is pronounced Say Say-eh.