June 20th, 2011

red panda eating bamboo

Scott Lynch on depression

Scott Lynch is writing a fantasy series called Gentleman Bastard, which I like a lot.

In his LJ, he writes very well about how a particular kind of depression affects him. (He writes as if it's the only kind, and I know of others, but I do struggle with this kind so I can relate to a lot of what he says.)
http://scott-lynch.livejournal.com/261555.html

Excerpts:
It's a mental cloud in which one remains perfectly capable of taking action, but primarily obsessive action, self-centered action. Not caring, conscientious, or constructive action. A depressive is supremely skilled at entertaining themselves now because now is all depression ever lets you have. It sharply retracts your chronological horizon....

...The world loses emotional texture, and the height of your ambition is to fill all that now with something marginally diverting.
He also puts forth an interesting theory about why people insist on minimizing illness and disability:
we need this particular special stupidity, as a species, as families, as individuals. Hope lashes us harder and drives us farther than fear ever could.

The damnable side effect, of course, is that we sometimes insist that genuine physical and mental problems are "all in our heads" and can be wished away with a bigger smile.
I don't agree that human beings "need" to dismiss and minimize other people's illness as part of "hope." But I do think that it's a common, pervasive defense mechanism that's promoted by many cultures. I also think it can be unlearned, and I would like to think that it can be unlearned by whole cultures, but I don't know how to go about making that happen.

Scott also writes very clearly on why he wants people not to give him advice about medication!

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