Depressive Missive

Preramble

A friend of mine has been feeling under the weather (emotionally) lately, and I told her something that actually took me by surprise.

Actually, it was something of an epiphany that allowed me to understand myself a lot better, or at least understand the way I used to be.

It’s essentially my thoughts on depression and why it’s something that’s so hard to shake.
I hope you enjoy it.


Depressive Missive

Depression is one of the biggest problems that plagues our society today. It’s a silent assasin that steals your happiness away from you.

Certainly there are many levels of you upon which it feeds: Mental. Emotional. Physical.

Perhaps this is why it is so hard to pin down.

Is it wrong? I’m not so sure.

We, each of us, is entitled to being in the dumps once in a while. But letting ourselves stay there is when the problem becomes severe.

Why do we let it stay?

Well, let’s just drag the reason out into the light: Sometimes, malaise can become so comfortable that it becomes a habit. We become negative. Withdrawn. We look at ourselves in the mirror and wonder why we would even bother to pick ourselves up and start fresh because we are useless.

So we sink further into the black hole.

This is only really a stop-gap, though. We simply end up at one step waiting to take the next one down a flight that leads us to complete and utter despair. Therefore, the easy way of surrendering to sadness appears more attractive in the face of the hard work to start climbing back up into the light.

But that’s where one would be wrong.

It is only perceived to be easier, when in fact, it will probably turn into just as much work.

Consider the alcoholic: At first, there is simply drinking. After a while, though, there is the withdrawal and the need to fill the emptiness with more drinking, which at this point may take some footwork to achieve.

The same goes for depression. You end up living to sip the next bit of malaise.

Is that’s why it’s so hard to stop? Maybe, like happiness, the body considers depression and sadness to be a deviation from the norm*, and thus wants more because it is different.

Perhaps this may seem odd, but I seriously wonder if that’s what may be happening. Depression and happiness could be two sides of the same coin, affecting the body with the same method yet yielding different results.

It would certainly explain why it affects us on so many levels. It would be something that integrates itself into the fabric of our being, and would take a great deal of coaxing to get it to let go.

Think of it as putting your foot on the accelerator of a car. Almost everyone craves the feeling of more speed. But does it matter what direction they are going in?

I think this might be something I would like to continue to explore. Perhaps you can help with your comments?




* – See this article about contentment.

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11 Responses

  1. I think there are different types of depression, Jorge. For someone who is just wallowing in their misery, you’ve got it completely right.

    For those people who actually have a medical reason for being depressed (i.e. – postpartum mothers with a hormonal imbalance, those with manic depression (bipolar disorder), etc.), however, it’s irresponsible to suggest to them that they can just start ‘moving toward the light’ and everything will be all better.

    I’ve been on both sides of that coin, and for the former, starting to make some positive changes in my life made the difference. For the latter, though, I needed medical intervention.

    I think it’s really important to keep the difference in mind.

  2. You misunderstand.
    That is just a metaphor.
    Whether it is purely mental or requires fortification with medical assistance – it still requires work to turn it around.

    It is never simple, either way.
    (and in some cases, both at the same time)

  3. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? ”

    This is from the movie Akeelah and the Bee. Great movie…and completely relateable to this entry.

  4. Hi Jorge,

    Sometimes the depression hits and stays because it feels so catastrophic that everything else appears to be turning out negative and it spirals from there.

    I know with MS I was depressed for the longest time. I couldn’t remember a time where I wasn’t. I do admit that meds have made this part of my life a non-issue currently. It also didn’t help that my partner at the time was incredibly negative and fed off my positive side.

    I know now depression for some people it is a medical issue and others seem to seek attention by being depressed. Some of us don’t learn the coping skills necessary to deal with daily life problems.

    I am a very happy person today for various reasons even though it can be understood why I may get depressed from time-to-time, but I like the happier me more so I plan to stay this way 🙂

    Take care honey,

    Adrienne

  5. I think a big problem is that people mistake unhappiness for depression while the difference is phenomenal.

  6. I think there is definitely a differece between FEELING depressed… and BEING depressed.

    I have bouts where I’m in what a teacher I had at one point called, “Existential Crisis”… where I question EVERYTHING around me, and find myself dissatisfied. But I don’t think for a MINUTE that this is ANYTHING CLOSE to clinical depression.

    I have known people who truly need chemical help to be able to regulate their feelings properly. A common misconception is that people who suffer from depression are sad ALL THE TIME, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Mood spikes are common too. And that can be even HARDER to deal with, because the GOOD feelings cause a more stark contrast to the BAD feelings, making them worse by comparison.

    Suffering and depression are subjective, meaning that they differ from person to person, making it almost impossible to quantify someone’s suffering. For instance, for someone who has never experienced pain, a sprained ankle would be the most excrutiating thing they have ever felt… whereas someone who has experienced childbirth or a kidney stone would scoff at the sprained ankle.

    I’m not sure that I’m forwarding the discussion, except to say that it’s VERY hard to identify depression, and even harder to deal with it. At the end of the day, if you suspect that someone you know is suffering from depression, you should encourage them to seek help, because it’s not something that can be dealt with alone.

  7. Excellent posts, all.

    What I am saying that regardless of type, depression affects the body like any other emotion. Whether by design or not, the body will crave the changes happening within it from the depression itself.

    This is what makes it inherently hard to deal with.

  8. Wikipedia has this to say, from an Evolutionary Theory standpoint:

    “Evolutionary theory suggests that depression is a protective mechanism: If an individual is involved in a lengthy fight for dominance of a social group and is clearly losing, depression causes the individual to back down and accept the submissive role. In doing so, the individual is protected from unnecessary harm. In this way, depression helps maintain a social hierarchy.”

    This seems to support Jorge’s idea that it’s happening for reasons that are “hard-wired” into our systems.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinical_depression#Causes_of_depression

  9. What sucks is that in an ideal society, people with varying degrees of skill and charasma would simply fit in their niche in the hierarchy of the group.

    However, in our society, those on the lower rungs are treated poorly for the most part.

    Thus, the defense mechanism of depression will overload, as it will constantly be employed to maintain equilibrium between the individual and the group.

  10. Depression…how I loathe thee.

    It is my belief that depression occurs when the mind falls behind in mental housekeeping. The mess builds, the mind becomes overwhelmed, and eventually, like my basement, it is impossible to know where to begin.

    Therapy and medication do not clean house. They just show you where to start.

    How’s that for a weak metaphor?

  11. Not weak at all, actually.

    It’s a great metaphor. Therapy and medication are supposed to give you the tools to help yourself.

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