Depression

I’m going to take a break from sassy writings about science and religion and all the other rants I like to go on, and speak about something close to my heart. Actually, two corrections there. It’s not close to my heart, it’s in my brain. And it’ll be less of me speaking to you and much more a word-vomit rant, typing as fast as I can think. I worry that if I don’t get this out as fast as possible, I’ll back out and stop myself from writing and posting this.

First and foremost, if you don’t have depression there’s no way you’ll be able to truly understand it. I’m not talking about “my girlfriend yelled at me and they didn’t have the flavor of yogurt I wanted at the grocery store” feeling blue. I’m talking all-in, balls-out “my life is worthless and will never get better, I’m a piece of shit” depression. It’s a dark feeling, one of utter hopelessness. Depression feels like drowning, except you look around and realize everybody else is breathing.

If you’re dealing with somebody who’s depressed, don’t try to logic them out of this. I cannot stress this enough: nothing you can say will reason somebody into being happy. Nothing at all. If you give them the whole “people have it worse than you” line, it just makes them feel like shit for feeling like shit when other people have more of a right to feel like shit. It only makes somebody feel worse about it, like their depression is their own fault.

positive_attitude

The thing is, you can no more talk somebody out of clinical depression than you can talk somebody out of diabetes. It’s not a fleeting feeling, a passing dark cloud. It’s a disease. It is a well-documented, very physical disease. There are brain scans showing that a mentally ill brain is as different from a health brain as the brain of an epileptic. And you wouldn’t tell somebody with epilepsy that other people are more epileptic, so what are you doing spasming on the ground and foaming at the mouth, asshole?

Fy82vFz

What you can do, what you should do, is be supportive. Realize that while you can’t fix somebody doesn’t mean they don’t need somebody for support. Be there to help them realize there’s a way out. Remind them that they are loved. Keep them from drinking. (I say this from experience. Drinking while being depressed only entrenches you deeper into the depression, one liter at a time.) And encourage them to seek professional help. While I’m not going to say that medication and a doctor’s oversight is the only way to fight clinical depression, I am going to say that I’ve never met somebody who successfully fought a mental illness without some medication.

I know a lot of this has sounded like a vague, impersonal talk, referring to “them” or “people.” So I’ll tell you my story: I’ve been diagnosed with depressive bipolar. It took years to find the right mix of medications to level me out, but I finally feel normal, like I did before I started seeing symptoms. I’d say about 98% of the time I’m perfectly normal now, and when I’m used to feeling like shit, feeling just OK feels fucking fantastic (if that makes any sense). Aside from getting the proper medical attention, the most difficult thing for me has been talking about it with people.

If you tell somebody you have the flu, they tell you to get better. If you tell somebody you broke your leg, you sympathize. If you tell somebody you have depression, they slowly back out of the room. The stigma behind mental health has to end.

Well here we are. The end of my rant. I made it, you made it. As a reward, here’s a picture of an adorable kitten.

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~ by kriskodisko on September 3, 2013.

14 Responses to “Depression”

  1. I can relate. Been living with depression since I was 14 and you’re right – there’s no talking someone out of it. So all I’ll say is that I hope this passes quickly for you and you get to the ‘okay point’ a hell of a lot sooner than you expect.
    In the meantime, take care of you.

    • I’m actually doing quite well right now, I just want this information out there. Because I know if (when?) I start feeling depressed again I won’t have the will to write all this out.

  2. But there are things people can do to better their lives and help those around them. Sure, there are no easy answers, but this blog kind of sounds like :”It isn’t their fault. It is not easy? There is nothing you can do.” But then what does that mean? Where is the hope in that? Yes one might always deal with depressed but I dont believe one has to always be consumed by it. I have friends and can tell you they are depressed but when they quit trying, that is when it sets in the most. I think when there is no hope of anything better, that is when people crumble.

    • I believe in the post I pointed out that people can be there for support, and the most important thing to feel better is to seek professional help. So obviously there are things you can do.

      And if you don’t believe that depression consumes somebody, you obviously don’t have clinical depression. And like I said in the post, if you don’t have it you can never fully understand.

      • I have heard people speak of being “swallowed” or “consumed” by depression, so why I dont have it, that doesn’t mean I dont have any knowledge. And just because someone hasn’t gone through the exact same thing as someone, doesn’t mean they cannot empathize or have an opinion on it. I have never claimed to be an expert. Instead of of telling me I am wrong about being people being “consumed”, why not explain what it does feel like to you. Cause I have heard others say that is exactly what it felt like. I really am interested in how this has been for you, because I know not everyone feels the same about depression, mania, of being bipolar.

        My comment was really just to say your post seemed to say just “let them be” but I think people are afraid if they do that, their friends and loved ones will only get worse. So, while I do agree it is difficult for the person suffering from depression, it is also difficult for those around them to know how to best help. So, some idea there would be nice as well (from your perspective).

        As a Chaplain, I see how hard it is for families and friends when someone is in the hospital. They have a hard time “being” with someone, so I think some of that may be one key. Does it seem like others are constantly trying to fix you or make you happy? I know I dont have depression, but I can say when I was a minister in the church, sometimes I hated working on Sundays when I felt bad. I had to act happy for everyone else. And pastors have a way of suggesting everyone should be happy and joyous cause it is Sunday. I dont agree with that, I think people should be able to feel… but I do think there is some point where when the feeling is controlling you, that is when there is a problem. And actually, that is part of the definition of clinical depression, is that it impedes on regular life.

        Also… Side-note:I started reading your blog, because I wanted your opinion on things, cause you are different from myself; however, sometimes I get the feeling because you “know” I am religious, you feel the need to push back at my comments, usually in a negative light. This is just an observation. I could be wrong. I hope someday there will be a more mutual back and forth, without all the presuppositions, but maybe I hope for too much. I do hope to see more entries like this. And I do know how hard it is for people to be vulnerable in areas like this one. Thank you for sharing with us your own vulnerability. I hope you didn’t take my comments here as a reaction to you personally but instead, as a comment discussing depression in general. Thanks.

  3. =huggles you to the ends of the earth=

    There’s nothing else to add to this. But I just wanna remind you, I am here. Hope to Skype with you soon. I am quite depressed, too. So if you’re up for it, let’s be depressed together.

    I said all that while still =huggling= you.

    And I’m gonna continue huggling you.

  4. Yes to all of that. I recently had someone tell me they wouldn’t see a counselor because “that would mean I’m crazy.” I’m like ……Ok, are you tired of feeling like crap? Do you usually see a doctor when you are tired of feeling like crap? Ok, cool then. *points to counselor* Stigmas against mental diseases suck. >.< Allie Brosh has an excellent comic about it: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/

    Also Allie Brosh is amazing at comics in general and you should read all of her stuff. O_o All of it.

    I used to really suck at being understanding about depression because I didn't know enough about it. Then a friend almost died from it. Then I educated myself because it frightened the hell out of me and I wanted to know how to be more helpful next time. It's amazing what anti-depressants can do if they're in the right dosages. I saw my friend go from thinking they didn't deserve life to being energetic and inspired to travel the world. Depression is definitely weird, but treatable if people would just stop thinking it was "just a phase" or "just a bad mood."

  5. I have depression and my significant other has Bipolar, so I know exactly what you’re talking about. It sucks.

  6. I agree with you very much on the fact that the mental health stigma has to go. Even though I know how real mental health issues are, I still find myself sinking into those stigmas because it’s easier to swallow that pill than realize there’s a larger problem that needs to be dealt with. My mother has been diagnoses as bipolar. There’s a greater chance I have it as well, but since I can’t afford doctors or medication, I get to go through every day with mood swings I don’t understand and can’t control. Oh well, I guess. This is just my odd way of thanking you for writing this.

  7. In any dealings I’ve had with depressed people, including my current best friend, and two other young ladies who are like family to me, the only thing I can do is listen, support their thinking things through, and “hold” them virtually. The depressed person may or may not benefit from medication, but always will benefit from working his/her own solutions.

  8. […] written about depression before, so some of this may seem to be out of context or to repeat itself. As with every time I talk about […]

  9. > ” just because someone hasn’t gone through the exact same thing as someone, doesn’t mean they cannot empathize or have an opinion on it. ”

    Yes, but that’s not the same as understanding what unspeakable horror they’re experiencing. You can’t.

    One in 10 depressed people KILL themselves to escape it. The rest of them just don’t have the nerve to, but they ALL think it would be better.

    A fireman during 9/11 said “I know I can’t possibly imagine what it’s like up there. All the bodies on the street were people who killed themselves to escape it. How bad must it be when jumping to your death on purpose is the BETTER option?””

    Depression is what I call “psychotic sadness”. It’s identical to deep grief, except it’s the worst possible grief you are physiologically capable of feeling.

    Say a happy 35 year-old guy comes home and finds his wife, who he loves deeply, dead of suicide. Is his grief what depression feels like?

    No, because it could feel worse. He could have found her raped and dismembered. ANd depression is still worse. The guy’s wife could still be alive long enough to look into his eyes and whisper “help me” before her torso dies in his arms.

    So is THAT what depression feels like? No, it’s much, much worse. That guy is almost certainly not going to kill himself to end his grief, even then.

    But people with clinical depression do it all the time, one every 22 minutes.

    That’s why you can’t possibly understand it. It’s not your fault and it’s good that you can’t. But just realize that your friend is enduring the most awful experience that it is physically possible to feel.

    Know that it’s just as horrible as being in in a skyscraper, on fire, being broiled while you’re alive and watching your skin turn crisp and black. It’s THAT bad.

    Yes, you can “empathize or have an opinion on it.” But you need to know that you can’t possibly understand just what it is that you’re empathizing with her about. And your opinion will never, ever take into account how unspeakably unendurable it is because you literally cannot imagine the level of psychotic grief she’s feeling.

    “How bad must it be when jumping to your death on purpose is the BETTER option?”

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