Winter Blues in the Summer: Chilenismos for sadness

Ok, so I don’t have the winter blues, considering I’m in the Southern Hemisphere and it’s summer here.  Also, I never get the winter blues; it’s more like a year-long fluctuation between bedridden and seemingly functional.  What’s that called?

The long and short of it is that I haven’t been posting as often as I want to.  Here are some of my excuses:

Ando bajoneada

gatito bajoneadoA bajón is literally a fall or sharp drop, and when you apply that to moods you get depression or something like it.  (When you apply it to substance abuse, well… that’s something else.)  Feeling “bajoneado” is like feeling blue.  You can also use this in verb form: bajonearse.  For example,

Después de que perdió Sfeir, me bajoneé demasiado.

Estoy achacada

In normal people Spanish, achacar means to put the blame on someone.  In Chilensis, achacarse means “to get depressed,” and a person who is achacao is burdened with all sorts of problems, overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, or sadness.

When people remark on how I look so happy all the time…

Estoy depre

Awww, sounds cute!  It’s like depresión, but shorter!

I think we run a constant line between making light of depression and wanting it to be understood for the serious and debilitating illness that it is (as I am demonstrating with this tongue-in-cheek post).  Our inadequate use of the little vocabulary that we do have exacerbates this gap in understanding.  Andrew Solomon describes this phenomenon as

a strange poverty of the English language, and indeed of many other languages, that we use this same word, depression, to describe how a kid feels when it rains on his birthday, and to describe how somebody feels the minute before they commit suicide.

Estoy “down”

Un cachorrito que anda down.

Yup, another case of throwing around English phrases.  I don’t know that everyone will understand you if you say this, but most will.  If they don’t, just show them this picture of depressed puppy.  They’ll get the message pretty quickly.

Summertime Sadness or Sickness?

It’s unfortunate that these ways of describing emotions make it hard to explain my experience with an illness.  Usually, I tell people that I’m sick, that I’m stuck in bed, that I’m nauseated, achy, light-headed, fatigued, etc.—which is all true, and all of those are possible symptoms of depression.

Now, I don’t want you all to think I’m like this guy, but it’s important to acknowledge the sickness, to treat some of what I think and feel as part of the depression and separate from me.  Depression should be a sickness that you can talk about the way that you could talk about a cancer or something else that alters your daily life, but not who you essentially are.

How do you think we can improve conversation about mental health?

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