Out and About (Sort of): Depression Follow-Up by Howard Freedlander

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Amid the music presented during For All Seasons’ ninth annual Heart & Music performed the past weekend at the Oxford Community Center. I harked back to my column last week about medical depression and its debilitating impact on self-worth and mental stability. The show’s message, as intended, struck one particularly powerful note: you are not alone.

As I wrote last week, newspaper and television pundit Michael Gerson, suffering since his 20s from serious depression, made the same point in his guest sermon at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC on Feb. 17 and again during a PBS interview two days later. Help is readily available.

Gerson pointed to family, friends, medical professionals and God as vital sources of support as one copes painfully with the depths of despair, oppressive feelings and destructive thoughts of “no one loves me” and “no one cares.”

It doesn’t matter if you have gained fame and fortune; depression is an affliction that overrides all barriers. Suicides stun us.

Addiction to drugs, alcohol and work do not block the effects of medical depression. They are mere substitutes for beneficial mental health. The afflicted still feel alone, unable to climb that mountain of consistent health and well-being.

Local organizations like For All Seasons and Channel Marker provide professional assistance that enables people to achieve a level of mental health that may have seemed unattainable. They help those suffering from mental disease and emotional distance from family and friends to create lives free of personal destruction and full of healthy productivity.

Perhaps most of all, local mental health organizations provide an invaluable prescription: hope. Without it, depression may seem inescapable, except through addiction and suicide. Michael Gerson recommended another cure: love, both from within and without.

Like others sitting in Oxford Community Center on a rainy Friday night, I found that music, as is often the case, inspires heartfelt and joyous reactions. Of course, that was the legitimate purpose of the “Songs from the Stage, Broadway and Beyond.” Periodic renditions of particular cases handled successfully by For All Seasons and calls for financial support were appropriate.

Local nonprofits, so very important to the health and sustenance of our community, must have financial support if they are to continue serving those in need. As I’ve stated previously in Spy space, a community flourishes or flounders based upon participation in activities requiring generosity of time and money.

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Allow me, readers, to veer sharply from depression and local efforts to help those afflicted with this disease to another issue that has proved harmful to the financial health of the Maryland crab industry. And that is the dearth this past summer of H-2B visas to enable foreign workers, mostly Mexicans, to work in the crab processing business in Dorchester County. The loss amounted to 40 percent; three out of four Dorchester County crab processors received no visas

I read in The Star Democrat that U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and First District Congressman Andy Harris are prodding the Department of Homeland Security’s Secretary Kirstjen Nielson to issue enough visas to help American businesses, including the crab houses in Dorchester County. I urge these three Maryland lawmakers to be relentless in their efforts to support local seafood businesses.

I suspect the issue is political and related to the Trump Administration’s immigration policies. That’s a shame. Dorchester County crab processors have sought and failed to recruit American workers. They want to stay in business in an industry important to the Eastern Shore and tasteful to the rest of the country.

As I end this column and acknowledge its disjointed subjects, I join readers in hoping that spring weather is quickly approaching. I well realize that the month of March is an annual tease, offering the prospect of warmth and then bombarding us sometimes with cold temperatures and snow.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

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