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Depression Isn’t Selfish

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"Weeping Nude," Edvard Munch
“Weeping Nude,” Edvard Munch

There were names littered throughout my family which sounded cold and scary, but which almost universally meant good things. I remember Lexapro. I remember wanting to thank him for making people happy when they used to be incapable of it. When you are a little kid and you see people who are depressed — whose emotions seem to make no sense, wholly untethered to whatever good things may be happening to them — you just want it to go away. You don’t quite blame yourself (though you are often inclined to try to fix it in the way a child would), but you know that it means people don’t want to go out for a picnic when it’s sunny. They sometimes don’t even want to get out of bed. And you know that this is bad, and that it makes you sad by extension.

I remember hearing a friend say, more offhand than anything else, over lunch: “Popping pills is never good. It only makes the problem worse.” I doubt that they would have said the same thing about a bacterial infection, or a heart disorder, but they seemed quite content in disapproving of certain medical solutions to things like depression or anxiety. To them, the symptoms were as much imagined as they were harmful, and there was nothing a little talking couldn’t do to make it go away. I tried not to get offended at this, but I would lie if I said they didn’t fall just slightly in my esteem after that conversation.

Of course, no solution is ever the same — ever universally effective — for anyone. In a family that struggled with mental illness, there were a million responses that led to health. There was therapy, there was exercise, there were medications. But each step in that direction was a good one, and one that made the child me excited and hopeful for the things we would all get to do this summer. If people were happy, then we could go camping. We could go to baseball games. We could go on vacations. I didn’t know what depression was, but I knew that it took everything away.

I remember when one person finally stopped taking Lexapro. I remember them saying, “I feel good without it. I don’t feel like the days are so long.” And, now that they were happy to be awake, neither did I.

When we dismiss mental illness as being largely self-imposed or trumped-up, we are telling sick people (and the families their illnesses touch) that they are feeding their sickness. We are even vaguely implying that they want to be sick. But depression (and other mental illnesses) destroy people, and their descent is out of their control. Because depression is not just a bout of sadness, it is a period of not being yourself — of not even recognizing who that self is. It is being in a fog which prevents anything good from reaching you, which takes away the sense and joy of successes and amplifies failures a thousand times over.

To hear someone tell you to “get over it,” or that you can will your way out of it, only makes you hate yourself more.

Like all sicknesses which run in the family, growing up with depression around you will always make you question your own perception of reality — you never know when you may be looking at something through a prison you are not even aware of having entered. No one thinks that they are sick until they are, and prevention is only a concept when the disease is as amorphous as the spectrums of the human mind. And when I have found myself, for days on end, unable to see the light or reason in anything, I knew that I may one day have to look for solutions that go beyond the character-building wisdom of “work out more often.” And if that should ever include taking medication, or seeing someone who can explain me to myself, that is nothing to be ashamed of.

Because I remember the little girl who looked at these adults who were supposed to know better, who were supposed to teach her how to be appreciative and energetic and joyful, and not knowing how to wake them up. I remember how painful it is to see people who have everything and cannot love what is just in front of them. And though the solution will never be the same for everyone, and though the illness is harder to see and to understand for everyone, it is important to always remember that it is not selfish. It is not something that people wish upon themselves, or revel in when they have it. When we are sick, we must take care of one another — even if we cannot see their wounds. TC mark

 

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    • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2013/04/depression-isn%e2%80%99t-selfish/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

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      Reblogged this on Last Words.

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      Reblogged this on White Dwarf and commented:
      this resonates

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      Reblogged this on Violet-Eyed en Atlanta and commented:
      A quick and painless article. But it defines depression well, especially the line: Telling someone to get over it makes them hate themselves more.
      My depression is still very real. If I could get over it, I totally would but lo and behold, it’s not a bridge or a hill or a road. It’s not something to get over. It’s something you beat back with a stick and fight with ever fiber of your being, just for it to come back again, laughing. You get bored with fighting. So you quit. And then you’re sad.

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      Reblogged this on …Somehow Noteworthy… and commented:
      “you don’t just stop cold turkey like that -__-;”

      It’s interesting because in the society we live in, it’s true; we make medication out to be something bad, something to be shunned for. But what about those people that take medication regularly, to maintain their high blood pressure like Ryan does, or…like vitamins, or your inhaler for asthma? Things that help you keep your health balanced, whether for nutrition reasons, or for conditions you’ve been dealt with by life that you have no control over? I confess, part of the reasons why I stopped taking my medication was because I wanted to see if I would be ok on my own…and I was fine…for a couple of days…but I will admit that the past two days…my lemur side came out…the side that worries and gets anxious when I can’t be around the ones I miss the most. Last night, I shamefully admitted to doing this because I had a mini episode of anxiety. All day, I felt unsure of myself, for what reasons I don’t know…but I also knew it was probably because I hadn’t taken my medication. And people are right, some times medication do have side effects…the ones that make it worse, and that’s the very reason why I didn’t like being on medication. But when you have people that love you, and have even done their own research on the medication you’re taking just to be sure you wouldn’t have it happen to you, you know you have nothing to be ashamed of. If they still love you, with your anxiety, depression, and whatever baggage you also carry, and they’ll still love you and even support the idea of you taking medication to help you regulate it, then there is nothing to be ashamed of…and that’s something I still need to learn to better deal with.

    • http://halfwaybetweenthegutter.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/these-wounds-are-all-self-imposed/ These wounds are all self-imposed | Halfway Between The Gutter And The Stars

      […] Depression Isn’t Selfish (thoughtcatalog.com) […]

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