I recently saw this post on Facebook and immediately commented and shared it. I have, for most of my adult life, suffered from depressions, connected it seems to hormonal cycles and how they influence serotonin reuptake. I suffered from post-partum depression quite severely as well, as have, come to find out, my maternal relatives. So it’s a genetic thing.
Many people experience depression in their lives, often after a life changing event. They may experience it, get support and help and with time the depression lifts and they go about their lives. I think of that much like having a bad cold or respiratory infection, something that is circumstantial and can be treated.
But chronic biological (chemical) depression isn’t something that can easily just be “talked” out of, as Stephen Fry above notes. It’s more akin to a disease like diabetes (thought not as immediately life threatening-obvioulsy with diabetes insulin must be taken daily in order for life to continue). And it isn’t that there is even anything wrong in the person’s life. To the outsider their life might look splendid! There are depressions sprung from things wrong in life, and there are depressions sprung from bio chemical influences and while they may look the same, and may feed into the other, often the depressed person isn’t trying to be sad, they are overtaken by physiological dynamics they don’t have much control over.
The lucky ones find meds that support them, and therapists to help, but some do not. You can’t talk your way out of bi-polar disorder, or schizophrenia, I don’t suppose major depression, or dysthymia is much different. You can talk around it, and use talk to support other methods of healing (or help you figure out those life dynamics that might be influencing the sadness) but asking why one is sad may be the wrong question.
The friends I’ve known who also suffered, as have I, from depression are some of the hardest working people I know. They accomplish so much all with the weight of an invisible bag of stones they carry, and it’s a heavy bag. It takes fortitude and belief and ironically a kind of intense self confidence to push past that exhaustion and sadness (that other people can’t necessarily “get”) to get daily work done.
And I know for me, I’ve been angry and resistant to the idea of taking meds (SSRIs) my whole life, as if perhaps maybe THIS time I can think my way out of the inevitable dip, that perhaps my brain can be controlled by me, not my chemistry, but then I realize I am my chemistry, right?
And therapy, when I’ve done it (and boy howdy, have I), has only been useful if I”m in a physically good place. I know for me, I have to eat well, sleep well, exercise well, and be on a kind of alert to staying regular on things that keep my serotonin levels even.
There are still times it irritates me, but it’s more important that I’m in a good place, then in control. It’s a moebius strip anyway, who is in control of your brain when your brain is you and you are your mind.
The reality is if you do better with therapy, do it. If you do better with exercise, do it. If you do better with SSRIs or meditation or prayer, if any of those things help life stay in color instead of sepia tones (or worst, grays and blacks), do those things. And if you have people in your life who suffer from depression (or anxiety) realize that those are real things.
Depression can serve those that it affects; the irony is that I wind up with such insights and yes, creative inspiration when I’m sad. It has taught me about well, depressing myself (making myself concave) to allow for space for others to create, or feel, or talk. I’m a good listener, a good observer.
Still, as much as it can give you, depression, it also lies. The lie is that even though you know what you need to do, you “shouldn’t do it” because why bother? Instead the truth is that it’s more like “can’t do it” because of the poor wiring going on, which is what the meds, and therapy, and exercise and meditation are for.
Let it teach you compassion for yourself, because you deserve it.
–Looking for one-on-one coaching on relationships, sexuality, life passages, or need support with personal or career goals? Seeking seeking a facilitator for your group or team to help promote healthy group dynamics and effective communication? Contact me here!