I have come to the conclusion over the past couple of weeks that many people just do not understand the mind of person suffering depression.
Last night I read (a very old blog post) written by a person who labelled those suffering depression as selfish. He speculated that the depression was all just in the person’s head. It wasn’t real. That they were grasping at medical diagnoses in an effort to make themselves feel better about themselves.
As if reading the article wasn’t bad enough, there were over 900 comments from people arguing for and against this theory. I didn’t trawl through every single comment. I figured the first 30-40 should give me a snapshot. And what a snapshot it was.
I am appalled at the ignorance of people.
The author wrote another blog post explaining his theories in greater depth. Whilst I can see where he is coming from in some respects, his post still lacked empathy and understanding. This man believes that our mind is a tool (correct) and that by controlling our thoughts, we should not ever suffer mental illnesses such as depression. He went on to say that there is no such thing as a chemical imbalance.
He is correct in his assertion that the mind is a powerful tool. It is. He is incorrect in believing that by learning to control our thoughts, we will control our illness. Although taming the restless monkey that is our thoughts will certainly assist in getting us through it all, it is not the cure.
Again, I wonder why those who have never suffered depression feel safe in making assumptions and offering ‘treatment plans’ to those who do. All the reading and book learning in the world will not take you into the mind of a person who suffers depression.
As I have said before, a person suffering depression is not just ‘sad’. They do not look any different to any other person. There is no large, flashing sign that appears over their heads to let the world know that they are struggling within themselves.
A person with depression will stand beside you at a birthday party and sing “Happy Birthday” with as much gusto as the next person. They will laugh at your jokes. They play with their animals. They go to work. They meet deadlines. They tend to the wounds of their children. They go about their daily lives just like everyone else.
As I was walking down the street the other day fighting a war within my mind, I was paid a compliment by a local identity. I acknowledged her, thanked her, smiled and moved on. The whole time my mind was continuing its silent war. To the casual observer, there was nothing wrong with this scene. Inside my mind was a whole different issue. If someone had come along at that point and told me that what I was feeling was selfish, it may have provided the tipping point that pushed me over the edge that day. I walked on and completed the other tasks that needed doing before returning to the office. I chatted with shop keepers and went about my business. I acted like any other person out doing their thing that day. I am no different. I looked no different. I acted no different.
So is it selfish of me to feel that I am failing others? Is it selfish of me to want to become a better person and then engage in self-flagellation of the mind when I fall short of my expectations? Is it selfish to try to be happy?
Tell me how suffering depression is selfish? Depression is not something that we enjoy having around and want to keep all to ourselves. So how can we be selfish?
I’m curious to know what those who have never suffered depression understand of it. I’d like to know what their perceptions are and what they believe those who have depression should act like?
So my mind has gone off on tangents once again.
I am in an okay place right now. I have a busy weekend ahead of me with sewing class this morning (working on the Tween’s quilt), then a cuppa with a friend when I drop the Tween at her place for the night. A family wedding and then if there is time after the wedding, calling in to a 40th birthday party. Tomorrow we have a 21st.
Have a great weekend all. 🙂