I originally started down the alternative medicine path out of desperation for a cure for my decades-long, god-awful depression. (Here’s my April 2011 post about how I got rid of it over a period of two years with a diet change and by correcting nutritional deficiencies and thyroid and adrenal wackinesses.)
Adding to the burden of depression and mental illness is having to deal with the very large percentage of the population who cannot relate to experiences they haven’t had themselves.* Like feeling effing horrid all the time. So you learn not to tell anyone about it. For a year two friends and I wrote about our experiences with this and other frustrations of the illness on our (now-defunct) blog Blessed Depth. Here’s a list we compiled of assumptions about depression that tick us off. I’ve added one more at the end.
“Happiness is a choice.” Happiness is not the opposite of depression. The opposite of depression is Not. Being. Depressed. You can be non-depressed and still be miserable.
“Everyone has bad days.” …Which they know will end tomorrow or next week. Depression doesn’t end.
“You have to try harder” or “Nothing will be handed to you.” I had to work harder than a normal person will in his entire life just to get up in the morning, and I did it for years. We’re talking about completely different scales of effort.
“Lower your expectations.” Because you’ll be so much better off when you abandon your goals and accept your fate as a mere onlooker of real life, peasant!
“Count your blessings.” Kiss my ass.
“You don’t act/look depressed.” Acting depressed is not socially rewarded, and social exclusion doesn’t help much of anything. And why should I have to act a certain way to meet your expectations? Shall we bring back sumptuary laws, too, so you can tell how much money I make based on the clothes I wear?
All your health problems are due to depression, even if you’ve recovered from it. This kills me. My mood has been relatively fine for years but I still suffer from insomnia, brain fog, and fatigue. Here I’m editing my original Blessed Depth entry: It’s been a long time since a doctor questioned my assertion that the depression is gone (I always tick it off on the medical history forms), but occasionally the few lay people who know of my history will insist that those symptoms are proof that I’m still depressed.
I have said this before and I will say it again: depression doesn’t CAUSE anything. It is a symptom that often occurs with a bunch of other symptoms.
Depression is a mysterious illness that can only be understood, evaluated and treated by trained professionals. This is bullshit. Doctors frequently know little more about depression than what they’re told by their pharma sales reps. By observing your reaction to your diet, your environment, stressors, season changes, etc., you can make some interesting correlations. Even a negative reaction to something is a clue. The problem, of course, is that when you’re really depressed, just tying your shoes is too tedious too bear, never mind performing any sort of long-term self-experiment whilst exercising strict adherence to the scientific method.
In fact this can be an insurmountable obstacle, which is why I’m all for prescription drugs — or whatever works — if they can get you to a better-functioning place.
*…although I suspect some of these people are depressed themselves but are too — sheltered? stupid? befogged? unworldly? brainwashed? — to know it.