Friday, June 8, 2012

Depression: Is it real?

Depression seems paralyzing.  I haven't experienced it myself (I'm talking about internal depression, the disorder, not just life-altering sadness caused only by external forces.)  I only mention this (not in the way that there are people who immediately say, "But I'm not gay!" when talking about LGBT-related issues, or something to that effect) because I want to preface this rant/opinion/thought/whatever it is with the fact that I have no personal, first-hand knowledge of clinical depression.  But I feel compelled to write something about it right now.

The topic is on my mind because I overheard two women at work today in the coffee room talking about the fact that "depression" is fiction, made up, and completely concocted by one's intent to receive pity or to give excuses as to why they're not living a fully functional, productive life.  WHY did I not speak up?  I have no idea!  Because I didn't let out my annoyance there, some stupid blog is where I'll express it.  I'm pretty sure I used to subconsciously have a slightly negative opinion of depression until I actually knew people who suffered from it.  It is so real.  I imagine it to be like this: you know how we all have those periods in our life (it could be days or even as long as years) when it seems like we're staring through a tiny window (I know, the term "tunnel vision" would've sufficed to explain that) and we're completely in this restrictive zone where we feel emotionally or physically or mentally trapped.  I look at depression as being a long-term (or maybe depression can be very short-term) state of that.

That's all I really have to say on the matter.  It is demoralizing as humans to demoralize others for something that is completely unrelatable (is that a word?) It's like that phrase, "Seeing is believing" - I guess it takes seeing to understand something, and I get that.  But it's a good goal to reach, in my opinion, to not only believe in what we see, but to trust that millions of people wouldn't make something up.

(photo borrowed from mummydaze)


  1. People who say the things you heard are lacking a uniquely human capacity: empathy.
    Normal people do not have to be clinically depressed to understand the pain of depression anymore than they need to be tortured to imagine the suffering it causes.

  2. I can't stand people who believe that depression is a made up concept. It's a mental disorder, much like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Nobody chooses to have it, much like nobody chooses to have any other chronic disorder. It can affect almost anyone, and is not a sign of weakness or deficit of personality. It's treatable, and people experiencing it require support. To say that 'it's all in your head' or 'you're making it up for pity' is like saying someone with AIDS 'just has a weak immune system', and 'you should have been born healthier.'

    Also, quick psych note; If you're sad due to understandable external forces like loss, it's not depression! It's just feeling sad, and it's normal and okay to feel that way. If you're sad, can't think of reason, and have trouble just getting out of bed each morning, that's more akin to depression.

  3. In 2006, I lost my job and my dog died within a couple of weeks. Both affected me deeply. I cried a lot. Usually a few times a day. I tried to think of a reason to keep on going, but couldn't find any long term reason. I had a couple thou in debt to pay off so no one else would be burdened with it when I was gone. I was getting unemployment until March, so with the debt paid off, I decided to do the last thing that was on my list of things to accomplish with my life...move to California. The plan was to go there and look for work. If I didn't have anything by the time the unemployment was up, then I'd kill myself. I brought a pistol with me for the purpose. I couldn't think of any reason to continue existing. Every day unemployed made it worse. I applied for dozens of jobs every day and never heard anything from any of them. More exhausting was going out into public and trying not to appear broken. I rarely left the room I was renting. I did have a couple of friends around and sometimes they'd invite me to do something. I'd paint over the cracks in my as best I could and work to hide everything I was feeling. I actively looked for reasons to keep going, but I couldn't really find any. Every day...every week was closer to March, so I started to plan. I had to find a way to do it that would hurt my parents the least. I asked myself if it was better or worse to do it in a way that might leave them with hope I was still alive. A cousin visited and inside I laughed at the irony that we went to Disneyland while in a month and a half I'd be gone. Around that time I read Nick Horn y's book about the suicidal group of folks who meet on top of a building they all randomly decide to jump off of the same day. At the end of that book, there is not big denoument. The folks realize that they might never have any long-term goals again. They could set some short term ones, a week. Find a reason to live a week after that. I used this idea. I planted some longer term goals...some reasons to get out of bed in the morning...some things to do in the evening. A month after that and with three weeks until March, I finally got a job interview. I didn't get the job, but it was enough to pull me back a little. A couple of weeks later...March 1st as I recall, I went for an interview, but was stood up by the interviewer, but I was asked to come back on the Monday. On the Monday we had the interview and I was hired and started work right that moment. I hated the job, but it gave me something to do besides cry and sleep. After that, I pushed through an application I had been sitting on for a while that would take up a couple of years, but that also might produce a couple more goals to work towards. It was almost another year before the crying stopped completely. It was a year and a half process. I know it's still there. The dark is lurking there waiting for me. But now, like the people in the book, I have build a support structure. I have people now that I love and who love me who will listen and care, something I didn't have before. It's still a day...a week...a month at a time, but time moves forward, and I try to, too.