What depression IS:
-Debilitating doubt of self and one’s projected and perceived reality, as well as one’s ability to make decisions and trust one’s self with the responsibility of their own life. This doubt can manifest hopelessness, sadness and isolation. It is often mirrored by others once the diagnosis has been made because of the misunderstanding and stigma around depression.
-A sign that something is not healthy (for the suffering individual) or at one point was not healthy in their life, relationships and/or environments. A sign of trauma happening currently or being RELIVED and replayed in the brain because it has not been observed and emotionally healed.
-For some, it is a sign that the they were in a traumatic environment at the time of brain development so their brain is used to functioning with a different balance of hormones than the non-depressed function we see as “normal” or “typical”
-Very COMMON in an environment where people are forced to live in an altered state of self in order to fit into the function and socialization of a society.
-A call for the individual to be more attentive to their feelings, and the reality they need to create for those feelings to be save and validated.
-A call to inner pain which seeks attention and resolve by the individual.
It is also much more than this depending on the individual because depression IS an outward list of symptoms for any NUMBER of inner conflicts.
What depression is NOT:
-Actual evidence that the person is incapable of making their own decisions and taking responsibility for the trajectory of their own life.
-The ENTIRE mind or person.
-An excuse to completely write off the person, their feelings, their perception of reality, or their beliefs as invalid
-A reason to further doubt that person (beyond their own doubt) and EVERYTHING they do as a route to that depression and a cause of that depression.
Inside of every depressed person is a PERSON.
That person is independent, has their own feelings and perception and beliefs and values. That part of that person is not absent simply because you don’t experience it from the outside. There is more inside of that person than you are hearing or sitting with, behind the expression of the doubt. The doubt is all you see from the outside, the manifestation of the doubt– the sadness, the hopelessness–but that is not the extent of the person. If you write off an entire person, you are dismissing the very thing they need to heal from this kind of traumatic mind-space. What a depressed person needs is to sit with their own pain, process it, and begin to make outward changes to ease it and recover from the trauma that caused it. They MAY need outward validation so they can learn to validate themselves inwardly, especially if their trauma was caused in childhood and they were not taught to validate their own reality or feelings or pain. If you further doubt the reality of that person’s pain and life and mind and decisions, you are contributing to their inner resistance and their doubt by thinking they are nothing more than their depression and telling them to not listen to it.
When I was first diagnosed, I was told by a therapist that I needed to speak my truth in everyday life and begin to place boundaries with that truth and to believe it. When I started expressing my truth it was different than I had expressed for years. In my hometown, in my household, I had to lie about my sexual orientation, my hopes and dreams, my daily needs and desires– just to survive. When I started telling my truth, people around me fought me, invalidated me, and told me I was crazy and ruining their lives. Really, I stopped easing their pain for them. I have family members who still believe that my expression of my reality and the pains I have endured were a SYMPTOM OF MY DEPRESSION instead of the cause of it. They did not see that my pain was valid and I still don’t know that they do. I was constantly invalidated. I know all about the conversations which happened (and still are happening) behind my back in which my abuser (still) says he shouldn’t have to change because I am the problem–I am depressed and that means he did nothing wrong and I just have a chemical imbalance in my brain that distorts my perception of reality and makes me a “wackjob”.
I am scapegoated and blamed for the fact that I won’t put up with the same abuses I put up with in my youth, that I won’t offer my chuckles to certain statements or jokes, that I won’t listen to idol worship of the current US Administration, that I have my own opinions which challenge those around me. I am scapegoated because when they don’t listen I seek a greater audience through writing and others DO validate my experience. Some people would rather I not share my perception of the story. They’d rather I live in their perception where I am the problem because I was a “difficult child”. (CHILD!!!!!!!)
My depression is used as the excuse which invalidates me, and my opinions, and my ENTIRE PERCEPTION OF REALITY. I am the bad guy in their perception and they want me to live in that perception of myself and don’t see how that is what made me hate myself in the first place. They continue to project their reality into me, in which I am the issue and the problem, and think it will make me somehow better to live in their opinion of me.
Many aspects of my Self are completely disregarded because they are a development of my own perspective of the things I’ve endured and many people would rather NOT admit that I endured those things. This is not my problem though–it is theirs. I can see very clearly what happened to me and why and where it is excusable and where it is absolutely fucking not alright. I can see it, and I will not allow it to continue, and I will not put up with the treatment I received for most of my life, and that upsets others because it means they have to stop treating me like the cause of and excuse for all of their fucking problems.
Oh and if you’re asking why I have to post this on a public space like facebook its because you scream at me and tell me I’m wrong when I say it to your faces, which makes me suicidal so I’m protecting myself because you’re not interested in listening and understanding if you just want to tell me how and why I am wrong. I’m not wrong.
It is surely nobody’s JOB to help another person out of their depression. We all must help ourselves. However, friends and family of a person suffering must know that if you do not ACCEPT them as they are in the present moment, you are only further adding to their doubt, and that will inevitably help them to be less independent, less resolved and more resistant to their own truth which is the KEY to their healing. If you use my depression as a reason to invalidate me, you are inviting yourself to LEAVE my fucking life. My depression SAVED me from being a person I would’ve hated–a person I almost tried to kill. My depression brought me back to my truth. It made me seek help and validation from a MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. It saved me from being so untrue to myself–from dating men when I’m clearly gay, from living the corporate life when I’m clearly an artist/intellectual type, from putting up with sexual abuse when I DESERVE CONSENT. It saved me from living out many lies which would be totally truths and wonderful lives to others but which would have been a death sentence for me.
I saved my life by listening to my depression. I am finding joy and happiness and fulfillment even though I am OFF anti-depressants because I LISTENED to my depression, validated it, and took it as a sign that I needed to either stop living or drastically change the direction of my own life and beliefs. This was the decision I faced when I first opened my mind to all that it held. I decided life was worth a try because death was forever and going to happen anyway. I accepted the decision and it CURED MY SUICIDAL TENDENCIES because it empowered me to make my own choices. Now I am doing well, living on very little but enjoying my daily life. I’m a better person who does not abuse the marginalized or innocent–and if I do abuse people I hold a space for remorse and ask for forgiveness. I am a person who knows that experiences will bring knowledge and knowledge can change me and change is the progression of life. I am a person I am proud of, building a life for myself as I heal.
My depression helped me open my eyes. It helped me change my life drastically. It helped me begin to see myself through my own eyes instead of through the eyes of others. I still have dissociative episodes (which is when I doubt myself so hard I step into someone else’s reality and perception of me) but I can pull myself out of them now. Most importantly–I have a very in depth understanding of my own brain, and the human brain, because of this experience and this knowledge is POWERFUL and I want to help others with it.
BTW if you’re a family member, and read this far, and feel like talking about any of this, my door is open–but you better know I’m not here to be screamed at and told what a piece of shit I am for pointing out abuse and demanding better for myself from those around me–I will cut you out like a cancer if you make my mind a harder place to live. I’ve done too much psychological work with an ACTUAL MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL to be told by any of you that you know better than me or my doctors. I won’t be shoved back into the submission of accepting SHIT treatment from someone who is in more pain than me and won’t admit it. I won’t be silent about my experience. I won’t stop telling my story. I won’t go back into any fucking closets. I am not here to lie and make your lives easier as I have done for my entire life to this point and if that’s all you can expect from me then please do keep your distance. I’m choosing me, and if you’d been given my choices and treatment in life you’d understand–but if you can’t understand then YOU. AREN’T. LISTENING.