The joys of genetics.I got a reply via email to my first post on depression that I’d like to share.

This is a great article. I am one of the ones that would have come up to you during a break but over time I have raised my hand many times to the question “Who takes antidepressants” and I now comfortably say “I do and I don’t have the desire to get off of them. If it is working then why rock the boat”. I don’t happen to enjoy being depressed. It is all over my family and i have been on meds for around 12 years.

I didn’t know i was depressed until I had the shocking experience of what it felt like to be Not Depressed after i started on Welbutren. That is the only antidepressant I have ever taken and it works just fine.

I hope your bouts get longer spaces in between. I hope you write more articles like this one. I think it will help to get depression out of the basement of secrecy and out into the light. If it is here we might as well talk about it.

I got a few other replies along the lines of “the post on depression was depressing”.  But that’s hardly surprising.  There’s a huge range of reasons why we don’t like to talk about depression.  “It’s depressing” is one.  It marks me as not Ok is another.  My personal favourite is “I don’t like being around depressed people; if they knew they wouldn’t want to be around me”.  It feels like admitting that I’m “less than”.  It could affect my job or my career opportunities (a very real possibility).  And lots of others.

I spoke up some years ago.  Because I did it in front of a big enough group, I made a difference to quite a few people.  I know that because they told me so.  I talk about it quite freely.  An now I’m writing about it in this blog.

I used to think of depression like I think of the flu.  It’s something that you catch.  It makes you sick for a while.  There are things you can do that can help, but for the most part you need to ride it out.  It’s the pits while you’ve got it but it’ll get better.  For me the main difference between the flu and a bout of depression was that the flu would last a couple of weeks and the depression could last a number of months.  While I thought that way I did not talk about depression.  I waited it out.  I learned strategies to hide it and became quite good at them.  I could be deeply depressed for a long time and no one in my life would know it.  It was excruciatingly lonely, but it was private and I was sure it would be temporary.

The world has changed a lot since then.  Anti-deprssant drugs are the main change.  A public push to reduce the stigma of depression is another.  For me the main change was talking to a psychiatrist, discovering things about how I handled my life in the face of depression, and starting on an anti-depressant.  I learned that I’d organised my life so as to manage depression rather than go for what I wanted.  I was hiding depression from my friends, and hiding my own dreams from myself.  And the two were linked.  I learned that being public was something I could do to bring who I was to the people I love, and hopefully help reveal myself to me.

I’m not depressed these days, and least not very often.  Sometimes it bleeds through the drugs, but usually not.  Life is good.  And I’m still talking about depression.  I think talking about it can make a difference.  I’d encourage anyone to add their thoughts and experiences to the comments on this blog.

There may be an extra benefit from talking here.  The letter above talked about Welbutrin.  I heard the name but didn’t even know it was an anti-depressant.  So I looked it up.  I take Lexapro.  It seems to worsen my restless legs (perhaps a lot).  Welbutrin has been shown to improve restless legs.  On Lexapro I’m often tired.  Welbutrin is meant to increase energy.  On Lexapro I’m facing going on a diet (though my weight gain probably has more to do with laziness than with Lexapro).  Welbutrin tends to decrease appetite.  I think I’ll talk to my doctor about this.

2 Responses to “It’s usually good to talk about it”

  1. MKP elder Larry Dawson explained depression as follows. Its not depression; its overwhelmed. the person is so overwhelmed they are depressed. According to Larry depression can be compared to a round cake. You take a slice of it and work on that. That reduces the size of the cake. Then you take another slice and work on that. The cake reduces in size. Until the depression is gone.

    I think if we focus on something we will get what we focus on. Maybe if we focus on depression that is what we get.

    As for “Chaos” I take my inspiration from the natural world. It always strikes me as so ordered. The exact opposite of chaos. We humans seem to be the only organisms on the planet that can indulge in chaos.

    American televangelist Joyce Meyer recounted a story of a parishioner who told her pastor she was depressed. He suggested she might like to start baking the great cookies she made and distribute them to the needy. He asked her to check back next week. When next he saw her several weeks later he said “Where have you been, I thought you were going to come back to me?”. She replied “I would have except I was so busy baking cookies for others I forgot”. Maybe if we focus on the less fortunate we will forget our own problems.

    • Both the MKP elder and Joyce Meyer seem to be talking about feeling “blue”. Feeling “blue” or down or out-of-step or sad or sorry for yourself, they are all feelings we experience from time to time. We can get stuck in one or more of them and start calling it depression. But they are not really what I’m talking about. I’ve definitely been in the place of being too busy to notice that I’m depress. In fact, it’s probably my most used strategy – get busy and absorbed in something and hopefully forget about it for a while. But depression tend to be waiting patiently for me to finish.

      Lots of people have simple explanations for what depression is; overwhelm is a handy word and might apply to some people, but it’s not depression. Lots of people have simple ways to deal with it; slice by slice, help others, angry dancing, meditation, therapy, drugs, and on and on. They are mostly based on a misunderstanding of what depression actually is. That doesn’t mean they can’t be useful, but you need to be careful about oversimplifying.

      One of the worst things you can say to a depressed person is “c’mon, just pull yourself out of it”. It presumes they haven’t been trying to do exactly that and failing. It suggests that the real problem is your failure to simply deal with it. It’s possible that Larry and Joyce’s solutions fall just a little bit into that camp.

      Not saying that there is anything wrong with their prescriptions, but my experience suggests neither is very helpful.

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