Friday, June 6, 2014

The D Word

No, not that D word.

Or that one either.  Geez.

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that in my last post, I never used the "depression" word.  I alluded to feeling depressed, but in all my bluster and openness I shied away from actually labeling myself as a person who suffers from depression.

Isn't that sort of silly?

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The strangest thing is that I didn't avoid it out of any fear of stigma.  I'm not ashamed to have depression.  It gets a little more complicated than that.

Part the First:

I don't have the right to say I have depression.  Or at least that's what my brain keeps telling me.

In my life I've been privileged to have a lot of friends that are, to put it simply, better than me.  They are smarter, prettier, more talented.  It's as if I subconsciously decided to only befriend people that inspire me, maybe out of some hope that their wondrous abilities would rub off.  Among the raw geniuses I get to call friends are some of the best artists, musicians, writers and philosophers a person could find.  They are individuals who are constantly driven by their work.  While I have many interests and some skills, I don't have the near-compulsive productivity of these people.

But often, talent comes hand in hand with depression and anxiety.  And these people, many of whom have been my boon companions over the years, have struggled with these issues.  I've had a ringside seat to the ravages of these disorders, as I've witnessed people stronger than myself live with depression that has been longer and fiercer than my own paltry experiences.  When faced against those comparisons, it feels wrong to say I have depression.  It almost seems cheap.

It feels like I haven't earned the right to say I'm depressed.

Which is a load of malarkey.  Depression isn't a merit badge.  There's no quota.  It's not like you put in so many hours of lying on the couch feeling like human garbage before you can say you have depression.  It's a condition, with certain markers, not some test of endurance.

Would you like to buy some cookies?  They're baked with the proper level of tears, I swear!

This traces back to a bigger problem in society, this inability to give proper credence to our emotions.  Perhaps it's just my personal baggage, but at least to me there was always this sense of denying my emotions.  I had to be positive.  Or even if I was sad, there was someone who had it worse, so might as well just abandon that sadness and carry on.  Because clearly that's pretty easy and should totally happen.

Except it's not.  And the best way to sort through emotions is to identify them, and to not give them some dark, Voldemort-esque power by refusing to acknowledge their existence.  Emotional honesty is the only way to completely move forward, and sometimes saying you have depression is a part of that process.

But in this case, I'm going to continue to not use the term depression.  Mostly because...

Part the Second:

I don't think its accurate to say I have depression.

I know.  Psych!
Sorry, I don't have any pineapple for you.

In our sessions, my therapistactually my psychiatrist, but I'm going to say therapist because that's the service I'm getting and because the medication side of things makes me nervous in this specific casewell, he doesn't use the term depression.  He calls my situation "tension," brought on by my over-extension of work/school projects and the ridiculous expectations I place on myself.  And when I think of the headaches, gut aches, and heartaches I've experienced these past few months, tension fits the bill.  It's a good descriptor for me right now.

Which isn't to say all that rambling about depression was a misdirect.  Everything I said I believe in wholeheartedly.  I want to stop giving into the negative connotations, or the comparisons, that keep me from being honest.  Depression has no statue of limitations, or whatever the opposite of that term is.   It doesn't have to age into a fine wine of pain.  It starts somewhere, and whether it's lasted three months or three decades it's alright to use the proper name.  Depression.  It's here.  It's an actual thing.  So just say it.

And as for everyone else?  Well, you know what they can do.

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1 comment:

Dana said...

I feel the same way about denying my emotions and "always being happy". I've always thought I should win an Oscar for playing me in my life. Haha. It's a joke, but 100% real. Thank you for your honesty. I find that especially hard, and these posts are refreshing, real and would be terrifying for me to write (which makes them that much better). I'm an avoider, and you're bravely facing your live. Thank you, someday I hope to be that brave.