Tuesday, August 12, 2014

On Depression

(Today's regularly scheduled program will return tomorrow)

To those who do not know, depression is a terrible foe.

We all get depressed.  All of us.  At some point in our lives we face that sense where fate has buffeted us past our point of bearing and that things will simply never get better.  Our feelings are perhaps crushed, our outlook is perhaps less optimistic.  We may be overwhelmed with sadness.  But for most of us, this eventually turns and we come back to our usual selves and lives.

To those that truly deal and face depression, this experience is very different.

I cannot speak of every experience with depression. I can only speak of my own, which is a fairly mild case one time diagnosed as bipolar.

To the depressed, depression is not a one-time event.  It is something you live with constantly, like a sort of chronic pain that never really goes away.  There are days you may feel better and days that you may forget that it is there - but you know that it is always in the background, ready to strike.

When it comes, it is nothing like that of the depression of the ordinary.  As you become older, you begin to recognize the signs of it coming on - I would think that at some level they are different for everyone.  Mine tends to be tiredness combined with onrush of pessimism and the inability to see anything good in life, followed by depression.

It has come.

People sometimes ask why the depressed simply cannot "Pull themselves out of it".  I cannot - again - speak for everyone.- but for me, it cannot be pulled out of because you simply cannot see a future.  Depression is like a tunnel into which comes no sunlight, no hope - just a long unending sense that what is, is what will every be.  Things will not get better - in fact, they can only get worse.

You are overwhelmed with sadness in your heart and darkness in your soul.  Always the sadness and darkness.

The first time I faced this was as a senior in High School.  A good student, I was doing "poorly" (C level work) in Pre-calculus.  I was a bit socially inept and had never had a girl friend.  I felt disconnected from my life and could not see anything getting better.  I tried a very passive form of hurting myself.

For me, I was lucky. I had intervention: a friend, then a counselor at high school, then my parents who helped me to get some counseling.  It certainly did not prevent the depression from returning, but it did give me a sense that perhaps there was something that could be done.

The thing that sticks with me in my mind is that sense of nothing every getting better.  That is what I associate most with depression.  The point is clear enough, at least to me:  if nothing is getting better or even if I am continually on this cycle of up/down up/down, there is no hope.   And when hope perishes, why would one want to continue?

A final thought:  Depression is a life long struggle.  If you read my blog you know that this is something I have struggled with repeatedly - and continue to struggle with.  It never really goes away.

But there is something - maybe not a bright point, but at least something to hold onto in my daily battle:  Depression, at least for me, is triggered when I believe that circumstances are simply not going to get better.  I count myself blessed beyond measure that I have a God, friends, family, pets and even activities that remind me every day  "This is not all there is - there is no reason it is not going to change.  There is no reason to lose hope."

2 comments:

  1. Can't say I know anything about it. Times change up and down all the time so I never looked at any situation as permanent.

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  2. I do not wonder that everyone does not understand it quite like the depressed do. You remind me of The Ravishing Mrs. TB, who can become temporarily depressed but is simply able to set it aside and move on. Sometimes that can be the most difficult thing in the world for me. You are blessed with your perspective.

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