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depression

This meme via gloriajn and others, liberally edited and added to and generally turned into a pissy rant.

I have chronic depression. This is a condition with physical, emotional, behavioral, and cultural components. In fact it is probably somewhere from a dozen to several hundred different conditions that are lumped all together under one name.

I've heard many incorrect beliefs about depression and its treatment over the years.

Depression is not the same thing as being stupid, weak, or lazy. Depression is not equivalent to wallowing in victimhood. It is not a cute Goth fashion. It is not just refusing to snap out of a bad mood. Depression is not just a sad mood.

It often attacks motivation. Sometimes doing the simplest thing, like getting up and dressed in the morning, can be a huge effort. Living in a culture that strongly values independence and productivity over other forms of being can add a terrible burden to us. We may already believe we are worthless, and having this belief echoed back at us from our own culture can make it a lot harder to fight.

If a depressed person can't make a decision, they aren't necessarily just being ornery. If a depressed person cries a lot, they aren't necessarily just being a drama queen. If a depressed person doesn't seem to enjoy anything, they aren't necessarily just being picky.

Depression can't usually be magically cured by a few minutes of daily meditation or a daily walk around the block (although meditation and exercise can sometimes be part of a treatment for some people who have depression).

Some depressed people take medication, and medication helps make some of us better. Our medication is not a "happy pill." Sometimes it helps some of us experience what normal people feel like most of the time. Sometimes it makes us less depressed but still not normal. Sometimes it makes us different but still not undepressed and still not normal. Sometimes it doesn't do anything at all, or makes us worse.

Some depressed people don't take medication, because sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. If sex is only of your only pleasures in life and your pill kills your sex drive, how would you feel?

Many of us are aware that depression meds are overprescribed. Many of us are aware that pharmaceutical companies are in the business of maximizing their profits. That doesn't mean that our meds are necessarily wrong for us. So unless you have done some scientific research that our doctors don't know about, you might think twice before expressing your negative opinions about our personal use of medications. You might think twice before you brag in our presence about how you would never take any medications, especially if you then turn around and wail that one of us committed suicide and how could they because they had so much to live for.

Depression sometimes takes away our joy. When we lose our joy, sometimes we lose our sense of connection to other people, and to the world in general. When we've lost our connection, sometimes it's really not enough to have people trying to jolly us out of it. Sometimes, even if we love you, your loving behavior toward us doesn't help us feel better. Sometimes your presence just makes us feel guilty. Sometimes we push you away and feel terrible about doing so but unable to do anything else.

Sometimes you just can't help us. And sometimes you can - sometimes it is a great comfort to know another person is willing to sit near the pit we are in. Or wave to us from their own pit.

Some of us go around trying our best to seem normal. You might not know that we have depression, because we have good jobs and loving families and we know how to talk as if we are happy and interested.

Depression sometimes makes us lose our innocence. I'll never be truly shocked to hear that someone else who was intelligent and passionate and articulate has ended their life. I'll never be angry at someone for choosing that way out of their pain. I'll be angry at the fact that the pain can't always be cured, but not at the person.

But not all depression is sharply painful. Sometimes it creeps up on us. Sometimes it's just like driving in a sort of fog, or walking around in a room with too much furniture - something that affects us in ways that we don't notice, rather than being overwhelmingly debilitating. That means sometimes we don't realize we are depressed until it starts getting better (or worse). Sometimes other people in our lives notice first. Sometimes not.

Everybody knows that loss can contribute to depression, but fewer people know that many physical and medical conditions can contribute to depression, even relatively common ones, like anemia or just plain poor sleep.



Along with many other people who have chronic depression, I am a strong, intelligent, capable person. I think it can be a good thing to talk about this condition and how it affects us and how we live with it.

If you have depression or there are people in your life who have it, I think it would be cool if you said something about depression in your own LJ. But I don't intend to cause anybody to feel obligated to talk about something they don't want to talk about.

Edit 9/9 Since several people have asked: Feel free to post a link to this elsewhere. If you feel like leaving a comment here letting me know you've done so, that would be cool, but you don't have to.</b>

Comments

( 60 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
firecat
Sep. 8th, 2004 10:17 pm (UTC)
That would be great.
marykaykare
Sep. 8th, 2004 08:16 pm (UTC)
I've already written at length about depression in both my lj and blog. Happy to provide links for anyone interested. I talk about it extensively and at the drop of a hat because I'm tired of people being ignorant and prejudiced. I have no shame because there is no need to -- an attitude some people find very odd which merely indicates what we're up against.

MKK
firecat
Sep. 8th, 2004 10:32 pm (UTC)
I've really appreciated your writings about depression.
(Deleted comment)
firecat
Sep. 8th, 2004 10:17 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. Glad it helps a bit.
gloriajn
Sep. 8th, 2004 10:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it explains something I've been trying to say for a long time. Thank you.
firecat
Sep. 9th, 2004 08:41 am (UTC)
y'welcome. Thanks for posting the pointer that led me to write it.
rosefox
Sep. 8th, 2004 11:27 pm (UTC)
May I post this to readers_list?
firecat
Sep. 9th, 2004 08:42 am (UTC)
Sure! I'm glad you think it's worthy.
(no subject) - rosefox - Sep. 9th, 2004 11:24 am (UTC) - Expand
bobbylevi
Sep. 9th, 2004 04:22 am (UTC)
Thank you for that... it is all so true. Now all we need is for the people who aren't depression sufferers to read it and take it to heart.

Much of it applies to CFS and other similar conditions too.

You seem to have come to terms with your condition... Are there any tips you can offer to get to that place?
firecat
Sep. 9th, 2004 08:51 am (UTC)
I'm glad you like it. And I agree it applies to many other conditions.

Here are some things that I do: Read about depression (I can recommend some books if you want), talk therapy (I'm not doing any at the moment, but I've done several years' worth), meds, and treatment for my physical conditions that make it worse (sleep apnea, primarily). It's also been helpful to me at times to have a spiritual practice and/or do reading on spiritual topics.

Note, I don't really have severe depression most of the time, and I suspect that plays a huge part in my ability to come to terms with it.
nyx_tiresias
Sep. 9th, 2004 04:37 am (UTC)
May I Pass This On?
Hi
I hope you don't mind this intrusion, I found this post via a friend of a friends link. I am in UK & live in a flat supported by a charity called MIND, which "specialises" in providing support and assistance for people who have mental health problems. Would you mind if I took a copy of this to give to them? maybe to put in the newsletter for all of us to read who are being supported? I don't know if you'd like this idea, so I'm asking permission. This echoes my own experiences of living with depression and I'm sure would help a lot of others who may be less articulate and find it difficult to express themselves, or just for those plain misguided people, to see. If you don't want to be credited then it could be from Anonymous U.S.?
Thanks for making me feel less isolated in my beliefs.
Gailx
firecat
Sep. 9th, 2004 08:55 am (UTC)
Re: May I Pass This On?
Thanks for asking! - Feel free to give a copy to the charity. I am delighted to know the post might be of use in that way. And it sounds like a great charity; I'm glad they are helping you.

Please attribute it to Stef Maruch.

I'd really appreciate getting a copy or pdf of the newsletter if it does wind up in there, but if that isn't easy to manage, it's OK.
jenny_evergreen
Sep. 9th, 2004 06:40 am (UTC)
Found via kightp's journal...this is excellent. Thank you for writing it.
firecat
Sep. 9th, 2004 08:55 am (UTC)
You're welcome - I'm glad you like it.
neeuqdrazil
Sep. 9th, 2004 06:46 am (UTC)
This is wonderful
I also suffer from chronic depression, and found this via soaring_phoenix's LJ. You've written here things that I've been struggling to define for myself for quite a while.

May I post a link?
firecat
Sep. 9th, 2004 08:56 am (UTC)
Re: This is wonderful
Yes, feel free to post a link. I'm glad the post helped articulate some stuff.
wild_irises
Sep. 9th, 2004 07:08 am (UTC)
You are eloquent, articulate, and careful as expected. I do hope I've never crossed the line from expressing my concerns about pharmaceuticals in general to criticizing your use of them.
firecat
Sep. 9th, 2004 08:57 am (UTC)
Thanks! You absolutely never came across to me as criticizing my pharmaceutical use.
bandhiaduit
Sep. 9th, 2004 08:23 am (UTC)
I didn't find it pissy at all, but intelligent and matter-of-fact. Would that more loving ones of depressed ones were to see this and understand. I hope you won't mind if I link, too, as I found you via an "alert" from soaring_phoenix.
firecat
Sep. 9th, 2004 08:58 am (UTC)
I should take to heart that what I think is pissy other people think is matter-of-fact. Please feel free to link. Thanks!
theraevyn
Sep. 9th, 2004 09:27 am (UTC)
Found this through bandhiaduit. Good read and excellently articulated. =)
firecat
Sep. 9th, 2004 10:40 am (UTC)
Thanks!
jjenisis
Sep. 9th, 2004 10:28 am (UTC)
HEAR HEAR Very well said...I too suffer from depression but have found that mine is controllable with medications. They help to keep things evened out but still have times where I slip backwards. I hae found it hard to express the same things that you have so eloquently put things thank you for sharing this. I came across this through epi_lj
firecat
Sep. 9th, 2004 10:41 am (UTC)
Y'welcome - glad you liked it. That's where I am most of the time.
noressa
Sep. 9th, 2004 10:52 am (UTC)
Dealing with people in depression in my life for the first time is proving to be a bit of a challenge. I think I'm noticing the lack of motivation more then anything. It's hard for me to see and not be able to "help"... But thank you for posting this.
noressa
Sep. 9th, 2004 10:53 am (UTC)
Rather, not me, but in people around me.
(no subject) - firecat - Sep. 9th, 2004 11:14 am (UTC) - Expand
kimberly_a
Sep. 9th, 2004 12:39 pm (UTC)
Yes.

I would like to write something more articulate to express my thoughts on what you've written here, but today that's the best I can do.

Yes.
firecat
Sep. 9th, 2004 02:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks...
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