Monday, November 21, 2011

Warm fuzzies

Another anecdote about dismissing depression as irrelevant:

I attended a large healing ritual being orchestrated by a well-known practitioner at an interfaith conference.  Before the actual work began, she went to each participant and asked them what, if any, healing they were seeking for themselves or for people who could not be present.  Some had no need, but there were no small number of people needing help for issues large and small, ranging from muscle aches to serious cancer.  Then, she got to me.

"I suffer from depression," I told her.

"Oh, we'll take care of you at the end, during the 'warm fuzzies,'" she told me.

The ritual was conducted in several phases, with the participants collectively focusing prayer, will, and psychic/magical energies for the healing of various conditions, organized by general type.  It was an emotionally and physically grueling experience for everyone involved.

The "warm fuzzies" portion of the ritual was, it turned out, a group hug while collectively singing a whimsical song; only two or three of the attendees actually knew the words.  The group swayed in a rough approximation of time to the music.

Despite the fact that it destroys lives and even kills people, this nitwit decided that it could be cured with a group hug.

Ye gods.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dismissing diagnoses of depression

Sometimes it's liberating to have a formal diagnosis of depression, or even to self-diagnose, because it can bring the symptoms into focus.  Depression is an illness that transcends the artificial barrier we place between mind and body; it begs for a single word that describes both concepts so as to avoid the idea that "it's in your head."

Of course, it is in your head.  Once, when I was explaining it to a friend, I said, "I know that if I make a conscious decision not to be paralyzed by this, it will happen.  I know that emotions drive physical reactions, and physical states likewise elicit emotions, like how smiling can make you feel happier and being happy can make you smile.  I know all these things, but it doesn't make it easier to decide to stop feeling this way."

Later, my friend said to me, "You're that way because you let it . . . whether you use the excuse of you can't help it or not, you control your mind and body, nobody else."

I don't disagree, but I found his position dismissive.  Yes, I control it all, but we have yet to determine exactly how depression controls me.  Why is it that understanding this concept isn't enough to cure me permanently?  I don't accept that I'm defeatist.  It's too pat an answer.

Rather, I suspect that some people are simply more susceptible to these kinds of physioemotional feedback loops than others.  There's got to be a reason, a cause.  I don't believe that anyone would choose -- even subconsciously -- to be miserable, any more than anyone would choose to be homosexual in a society that still largely disdains the practice of same-gender sexual gratification.

I don't talk about being depressed because I am weary of being dismissed as weak, or patronized because I am not strong, or sympathetically viewed as somehow flawed.  Whether or not a specific event precipitates a depressive episode, the depression is not representative of a lack of willpower.  I don't think I am alone in keeping to myself due to this widespread perception.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Depression: Recognizing the Physical Symptoms

Depression: Recognizing the Physical Symptoms

Hmm, I've never thought about this before, but the sheer amount of muscle ache I've experienced in the past few days made me wonder.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Oh, those crazy backslides

I started this blog to explore ways that people have used to help themselves or others with depression, and to discuss the experience of depression; my primary qualification being that I've suffered from it myself and emerged from its grip.

What a nice memory . . . it was nice being a person who could regard it in the past tense.

Sliding back into depression, crawling out, down and up and down again, is exhausting.  Knowing that the feeling of powerlessness can be changed in an instant by simply changing one's mind is no solace if you simply can't do it.

Depression stinks.