From the outside looking in…

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. 🙂


44 thoughts on “From the outside looking in…

  1. You are right Sue. It is not possible to compare Sadness with Depression. One is about the mood and the other a mental illness. As I wrote to another in here few days ago, I learned to tell people, that I did have a Clinical Depression, and yes it was a very tough one, but I did not need to tell that to strangers.
    People did listen a little better, when I used these instead. Like it was more acceptable.
    Many people are using the word Depressed about their mood and then after abuse of the word, it is more difficult to use it, when we have a Depression.
    Very well written Sue, so important for the people who are suffering right now.


  2. It’s easy to judge what you know nothing about. My husband is a maintenance man/jack of all trades. He was doing some remodeling for the Prosecuting attorney while the man continuously followed him around making suggestions. Pete finally had to stop and say “Look, I promise not to do any prosecuting if you’ll promise not to do any carpentry.” It’s been a joke every since and everyone at the courthouse has learned to leave him alone and let him work. My point is (yes, I have one), everyone has an opinion. Even when they haven’t the slightest idea what they’re talking about. Sometimes you have to tell them to stick to their area of expertise.


  3. You are doing a better job at it than I do Sue. I was doing okay at hiding the depression until I had a major meltdown at the surgeon’s office on Wednesday, and am just now dragging myself out of it. All because he kept me waiting 20 minutes and my Nook battery was dead (that part being my own fault), and the changing weather having me in severe pain. So I took it all out on him, simply because he works for the hospital where the surgery was done and I was abused to the point of criminality during my stay, denied the bed pan when needed, denied my meds when I would call and call begging for them, and then denied my release forms when my son came to pick me up. Today I made the decision to contact friends in Washington that I used to work with and ask them to contact the proper authorities to check out the abuse going on there, so I am coming out of the depression that happened because I felt helpless about not being able to do anything to protect others against it. They may not do anything, but just letting the hospital monopoly know that I worked for Homeland Security and still have contacts there will hopefully make them sit up and take notice of the fact that I CAN do something other than just take it. A small thing, but a way of helping my friends and family from suffering the way I did and still do from that stay.


  4. I can only say – yeah. Battle of the mind indeed it is. If it hits hard beyond belief – it can seem selfish. Yes – it can.
    I wonder how much research the dude did into WHAT is actually going on inside the body PHYSICALLY that creates depression?
    OUr entire being is chemical somewhat!
    We cant ‘give in’ to it…there ARE things we can do to HELP it – but denying it by fobbing it off – is a bit counter productive. THEN it is selfish.
    Facing it and getting on is the best thing for it. But it really is a little rollercoaster.
    There can be an end though – I am convinced of that. 😀
    Interesting background by the way!!! 😉 (very poetic looking)


  5. Yes, your comment about being in a state of depression isn’t a choice we have control of. If we did, why would we choose to live this way? That’s pretty insensitive of someone to say such a thing. Whether or not we understand others, and how they live, whatever happened to compassion? I had someone call me a moron when I first started blogging. They spelled moron – maroon. So who is the maroon? It certainly wasn’t me, so I deleted the comment.


      1. I’m pretty sure I know who left the comment. That is when my daughter showed me the feature to “screen” the comments I receive, and trash them. I like maroon, not as harsh as moron. 😀


  6. I think it’s easier for people to make assumptions and blame rather than understand. It confuses them if they’ve never had depression and I think it scares some people. When people are scared they lash out. I wish people could just accept each others’ differences without judging. Great post.


  7. I really think that a lot of people just can’t relate. Before I had kids I had plenty to say about how other people were raising theirs…boy did my tune change once I was chasing a 2 yr old through the clothing racks at Sears. Having those kids taught me things I would have never come to realize if I’d chosen to remain childless….and I’d probably be making snide remarks about other peoples parenting skills today. Some people are complete asshats and you’ll never convince them but I think others just can’t grasp what they themselves aren’t experiencing.


    1. I think that is what everything comes down to. If you haven’t experienced it, your opinion is not worth as much as if you had.
      I’m not saying that their opinions are worthless because even those who haven’t experienced something first hand may make valuable contributions but without that first hand knowledge, it doesn’t hold as much credibility.


  8. Those ignorant people are the ones who thought the world was flat and who believe in all the conspiracy theories because they don’t do any research and just throw out their own opinions as facts. Indeed *they* are the ones who are selfish because they believe their own propaganda over science. I also believe depression (since I suffer from it as well as you know and am typing this here for those who haven’t seen me post lol) is a spiritual warfare that manifests itself into the physical realm. But then again I’m big on spiritual reasons for things. Thank you for bringing awareness of depression into light.


  9. Someone may have already said this but I’m not going to read every comment you have here to find out.

    The person is right except for one thing. It isn’t out of selfishness. Depression is all in the head, but it does trigger physical reactions. The depressed person does go to the doctor for attention, attention that will lead to relief from the torcher going on in him or her. Yes, the person want medication. Medication in most cases relieves the hell that person is going through.

    It isn’t that his analysis is so wrong. It’s that his angle on the situation is completely screwy.

    Keep on fighting, Suzanne. 🙂


    1. I didn’t say that he was completely wrong – just that he believes that depression is something that can be overcome simply by utilising the power of the mind. So therefore if you don’t do this, you are being selfish. I too believe the mind is a wonderful tool and a positive mindset certainly helps but so does assistance from other professionals.
      Thanks for your encouragement Glynis 🙂 🙂


  10. I spent years thinking I ‘should’ be able to snap out of depression, and beating myself up because my best efforts weren’t good enough – which turned out to be a far more ‘selfish’ attitude than admitting I needed help and getting it. And chemical imbalance is all too real, whatever that turkey thinks.
    You’re right. People who’ve never suffered true depression have no idea how it feels, and irenedesign is also right: unfortunately the nature of clinical depression has been lost in the current fashion of throwing the word around to cover ‘having a bit of a bad day.’


  11. Suz, I’ve nominated you for a bundle of 7 awards, but have no idea how to send them, so if you could go to my site and download them I would ‘preaciate it.


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