[Trigger warning for talk of mental health, depression, self injury, and sucide]
A while ago, I penned a fairly angry response to something circulating on the internet – the 21 Habits of Happy People. It pissed me off beyond belief, that there was an inference that if you weren’t Happy, you simply weren’t doing the right things.
I’ve had depression…
Great piece, though I will never recommend antidepressants to anyone. I feel that people are stronger than they think they are and popping in a pill can only go so far, and can sometimes do more harm than good. As a person who has suffered depression, I truly love this, because I believe we, as human beings, are able to overcome so much! By changing the way we live, seeking help, and shifting our attitude, we become our true selves. This is a wonderful, encouraging piece.
This came up on my dash thanks to fuckyeahfeminists but I wanted to make it clear that I wasn’t responding to their bit but rather the last quoted part here.
You know, the issue of mental health and medication is something that comes up again and again. Obviously everyone has their opinions, but something about this latest version of it just struck me in that way things do when you can’t simply scroll past them on your dash.
I mean how could anyone just scroll past the ultimate answer about whether or not antidepressants could help people with depression? Talk about a momentous occasion! We talk and talk and wonder and debate but now, finally, we can put this to rest. Honestly, I never thought I’d live to see the day.
Sure, it’s a rough day for somebody like me who would have argued that antidepressants can be helpful. Sure, I personally can testify to the fact that I don’t actually have anything in my life that’s causing me to be depressed that could be dealt with via therapy. And that the reason why I feel so depressed to the point where I hate myself, physically hurt myself, and start making plans to shuffle off this mortal coil in spite of having no apparent reason to feel those feelings is, many people would argue, the very definition of clinical depression due to some form of inner chemical imbalance that my body cannot fix on its own.
And sure, maybe I could look at how I feel that way when I’m not on medication, or when I’m on the wrong medication, but that when I’m on the right dose of the right medication I don’t feel that way anymore. And heck, maybe there are a few dozen thousand million people out there who have similar experiences to mine (or don’t, because they couldn’t get meds for whatever reason and thus are dead now due to the whole self-hate thoughts of suicide thing) but everybody knows the plural of anecdote is not data so obviously that doesn’t matter.
No, because today, TODAY, somebody on the internet took their experience with their kind of depression and was able to spread the benefit of that experience for us, the rest of the entire world, to benefit from.
Yes, it is entirely possible that none of us reading those words share enough in common with the original poster to know for certain if we could safely order the same pizza toppings together - or at all, if one of us has a lactose intolerance. We may not share the same eye color, or hair color, or nationality, or gender, or personal history, or body type. It doesn’t matter! DEPRESSION HAS BEEN CURED!! THIS ONE PERSON WAS ABLE TO MAKE THEMSELVES BETTER BY REMINDING THEMSELVES TO THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS AND THAT’S ALL IT TAKES FOR EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD TO EVER GET CURED OF DEPRESSION. HOW FREAKING AWESOME IS THAT???
Oh there may be naysayers. Those who bring up concepts like whether or not this person has a medical degree or any understanding of depression or mental illness outside of their experience or even a basic understanding of logic that says that scientific conclusions cannot be determined via sample sizes that can be counted on one hand. But that is OLD THINKING, my friends.
No. Today is a new day. It is a new ERA. It is an era where starting tomorrow I, and every single solitary person in the entire world who takes antidepressants can throw our medication away! We are SAVED!
No more listening to our doctors! No more spending money on psych appointments that, if you live in the US like I do, were very likely not at all covered by your insurance! Assuming you even have insurance!
No more spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on medication for the sheer fun of spending money that clearly we had no other use for! No more dealing with side effects that may make us shake or vomit or unable to enjoy sex or make us constipated or any number of other horrible things that we previously put up with because literally it was the choice between having those side effects or being dead!
No more dealing with the stigma of being mentally ill! With those family members or friends or co-workers or random yahoos who told us that we were slackers or lazy or making it all up!
No! No more! Because from now on, folks, we can LISTEN TO SOME RANDOM PERSON ON THE INTERNET WHO TOLD US THAT ALL WE HAD TO DO IS SHIFT OUR ATTITUDE! BECAUSE NONE OF US HAVE EVER THOUGHT OF TRYING THAT BEFORE! BECAUSE BEING DEPRESSED AND POSSIBLY SUICIDAL IS SO MUCH FREAKING FUN WE ALL STAY IN IT BECAUSE WE LIKE TO! AND AT NO POINT EVER WISHED THAT MAYBE WE COULD HAVE FIVE FREAKING SECONDS OF NOT WONDERING HOW HARD IT IS TO TIE A NOOSE WHEN YOU GET RIGHT DOWN TO IT!
No! No! PRAISE BE! Depression has been cured, folks! Let’s all cheer ourselves RIGHT up and get the fuck over it!
Next up: telling those dumbass diabetics to stop kidding themselves with all that insulin.
My sister has a brain injury that results in things like Depression and hallucinations and fun stuff like that. For the most part the side-effects of the brain injury can be mitigated by psychiatric drugs. But they’re not enough. Having a therapist to talk to, because she does have a lot of things that are super depressing happening in her life and have happened in the past, helps but is also not enough. Meditation, not enough. Supplements and nutritional adjustments help but again, not enough. None of them are enough on their own. When even one of the many things she uses to ameliorate her illness/injury gets dropped, she careens out control. And the beautiful part is, it changes. What she needs, what helps, changes every fucking year. Sometimes more frequently.
So I’m glad someone has found a way to treat their illness, that’s super. But out here in the real world, not everyone is like you.
[Image description: YPG stands alone with huge grey boxes all around her. The boxes say “Frequent doctor visits,” “Daily meds,” and “Never being healthy again.” The caption reads “Key points in having chronic illness: The moment you realize this is your life now.”]
Not really a single moment, actually. Often depressing thought.
Woman on Wheel of Fortune confidently shouts out the solution to the puzzle. It is completely wrong. I think to myself, “That’s why I couldn’t be on Wheel of Fortune, the shame/humiliation/embarrassment of shouting out the wrong answer would kill me.”
Less than 30 seconds later my brain is all, “Yeah, like remember when you tried to go back to high school the first time and on the second day the math teacher had everyone pull out their homework to go over with the class and he came up to your desk and looked at your paper and then shouted WRONG! at the top of his lungs while flinging his hands up in the air like you were the most useless and stupid piece of shit he’d ever seen? And remember how in order to withdraw from the school, because your anxiety/panic attacks at the thought of going back were debilitating, you had to have a sit down meeting with that same flaming asshole to explain just why you were such a fucking loser that you couldn’t even manage to go to school more than two days in a row?” Good times.
I find it insulting when people insist to a suicidal person that “they have so much to live for,” and that “they are stronger” than their suicidal impulse. As if the person in question isn’t entirely aware of those things, as if the chemical, neural imbalances or possibly external factors in them that are creating those feelings can easily be “overcome” if only they’re “strong” enough. Does that imply that they reason they’re suicidal in the first place is because they’re not strong? That they’re weak, in fact, for feeling the way that they do? It is not encouraging or helpful to say these things to a suicidal person, in my opinion. It smacks of shaming them; “oh, nothing’s really wrong, you’d be just fine if only you were strong enough. You should get on that.”
Suicidal people who are still suicidal and not dead have already proven their strength, as far as I’m concerned. And even those who commit suicide and “succeed” in the end can’t fairly be discounted as weak - everyone makes mistakes, sometimes deadly ones, and theirs wasn’t even their fault provided it was inspired by a mental illness. I’ve had plenty of people try to bring me back from the brink of a devastating depression by telling me that I’m so much stronger than it, and I can safely say that all I felt in those moments was shame, for not being strong enough to simply not feel that way. I’m not trying to speak for anyone else, but as far as I’m concerned, hearing that hurts more than it helps when you’re that low. So fuck you, I don’t need to hear that I’m stronger than my depression. I knew that already, it doesn’t change how I feel. You can’t sprinkle magic sparkle unicorn words over a chemical imbalance and make it go away. Don’t trivialize, invalidate, what I’m going through like that.
Being depressed isn’t so much being sad as it is being exhausted all the time and making constant calculations of what the cost-benefit ratio of being and not being is. Shakespeare wasn’t fucking around.
that’s exactly what it’s like
Ah, Depression. You give so many gifts, not the least of which is deep abiding self-hatred.
I remember one time when I ‘played hooky’ from school that last time in tenth grade. It was a cold and wet day, over cast and windy. The rain wasn’t constant, more of an intermittent drizzle and I was drowning in depression.
I couldn’t make myself go to school, I just couldn’t. It was hardly the first time, it wasn’t even any big event throwing me off. Just the run of the mill soul-crushing hollowness of being alive.
Everyone in my home worked or went to school, so the house was empty and I could have just stayed in my room. I’m fairly certain I would have been the first person home from school in the normal course of events so there wasn’t even a need to fake having been at school.
But what I did, what I almost always did, was punish myself for failing to go to school. I spent the entire day sitting out in the shed. The shed was old and rickety, full of openings that let the cold and wet slice through. I spent the entire day there on the hard, dirty wood floor trying to stay warm enough and holding off going to the bathroom.
I honestly don’t remember how the day ended or when I got up and left the shed to fake arriving home from school. I just remember the cold, damp and discomfort of sitting there for hours. And because this was punishment, I couldn’t even let myself day dream of something (anything) better or happier or even just distracting.
That is what my ‘normal’ was. Episodes of days to weeks to months like that. Where not only was I in extreme emotional distress, but I then piled onto that physical discomfort and deprivation as well as shutting down any attempts to distract myself from all the pain.
Fuck that. And fuck anyone who thinks that I should do that to myself. Fuck everyone that thinks that my illness means I’m not allowed to have any moments of peace or rest or joy or comfort. I have been in hell for most of my life. Day in and day out and if by some chance I experience a little happiness, I am trained to punish myself severely for it. Because Depression is just a lack of character and will power. And this world, my family, has always considered me worthless.
So fuck them all. I’ve got a chronic illness, it is not my fault, and I’m not going to be complicit in my own persecution any longer.
I mean, of course I actually will because you can’t just magic a lifetime of conditioning away, but fuck if I won’t give it my best.
xposted to my journals, comment there if you’d like.
Craig Ferguson on Tom Cruise attacking Brooke Shields for using anti-depressants to fight Post-Partum Depression. (via themarriageofadeadblogsing)
I have always thought Craig Ferguson was a very smart man. It appears I was right.
“It’s not like you go “oooh, I feel really sad” and then your arse falls off.”
Oh shit. I think my ass just fell off.
So there’s a depressed person in your life. This can be hard! As a depressed person, I know that I am sometimes a yawning chasm of neediness and tears. It’s entirely possible that you have never had this kind of predicament in your relationships before, or that you’re a veteran but need some support. Either way, here are some tips (courtesy of some messages from my mother, which did 100% the wrong thing).Don’t:
- Assume you know what’s bothering them. You probably don’t. Fun fact: with depression, there’s rarely a “thing” that’s bothering us. It’s usually a huge conglomeration of things.
- Use phrases like “You’re just making yourself miserable!” or “How about looking at the positive?” or “What is being angry REALLY doing for you?” They are not only minimizing the depressed person’s very real predicament, but condescending, patronizing, and alienating besides.
- Speaking of minimizing… Telling a depressed person that they’re being irrational, overreactive, or melodramatic feels a lot like being slapped and will cause a depressed person to close off and feel worse. Depressed people are usually hypersensitive to whether or not their reactions are perceived as “ridiculous” to begin with, but we don’t have a lot of control over them. Mostly, if we start getting tearful or angry over something that seems small to you, we’re just as frustrated by our reaction as you might be.
- Be brusque, or try “tough love.” It won’t work. It will make the situation worse and make us feel like shit about ourselves, besides.
- Assume that you can treat depression like a bout of the sads. It’s not as simple as that. It’s a chemical imbalance that we can’t talk ourselves out of, or sleep off, or brush aside. It hurts. It’s there all the time.
- Be aware that what helps and what doesn’t varies from person to person. The following list are suggestions, but are by no means universal rules.
- Wait for us to talk to you if we come to you. Often, depressed people have a hard time vocalizing what’s wrong. Sometimes literally all we need is someone to cry on.
- Be empathetic. Understand that depression is a hard, exhausting thing to battle, and that gentle reassurance or a comforting text or a small gesture of appreciation can go a long way.
- Reach out with support, and ask what you can do to help. If the answer is “nothing” (and it might be because we don’t always know what can be done to help) ask what you can do to help us move forward past this one hard moment — sometimes that thing is a hug, sometimes that thing is a rewatch of Clueless, and sometimes that thing is a crisis hotline. The important thing is to ask. Simple things that show we are loved and valued by you can be huge.
- Reach out for support. This is a universal thing both for depressed people and for people who are trying to be supportive of people with depression. It can be really, really fucking hard, and a huge strain on a relationship (both ways, when one person feels like they can’t meet another’s needs and the other feels like their needs aren’t being met). But there are always people who are there to lend a shoulder; whether those people are family and friends, a therapist, or a crisis counselor, they’re there.
Here are some numbers.
Love and solidarity. x
people are very accepting of depression and anxiety and other mental illness until they run across someone who doesn’t fit the narrative of “aw poor sad beautiful shy girl who’s perfect in every way except she can’t see it but if you tell her you love her she’ll magically be cured”
because guess what it’s not that easy it’s not that simple it doesn’t work that way
mentally ill people are hard to deal with
we are by turns annoying and aggressive and shy and manic and depressed
we are not always fun to be around
we are difficult
and guess what? telling us we’re beautiful or we shouldn’t feel sad or we’re loved isn’t going to magically fix that
and god forbid we be crazy in a way that’s irritating to you
because the same people who claim to be there “if anyone needs anything at all!!!! <333” are usually the ones who are dismissive, cruel, who laugh when, god forbid, someone ISN’T that shy, sad, broken teenage girl who just needs someone to love her
and that acceptance ends abruptly when our mental illness becomes inconvenient
and that’s just fucked up.
I’ve reposted the Aidan Gillen items I still have that are a part of the Fan Collection Sale. Please - if you are able, please would you share this information with your friends on twitter or tumblr???
This is the main LJ post:
This is the Tumblr post:
To just say that I need to sell these items - one and all - is seriously underplaying how MUCH we need the proceeds. With all the immediate worrying and fear that we have right now, we have the added utter joy of having to pay for the state car tag before or on my birthday. Struggling to figure out how to survive on little to nothing financially with that as an added bonus is … dispiriting at best, and makes me despise my birthday at worst.
(It’s like when I turned 18, in the middle of my high school senior year, and had ALL means of support removed by my father on the cusp of trying to finish HS and pay for college myself. That was not a moment I, nor my disabled mother, celebrated either.)
Mom’s test results are … lost, so we’re waiting for them to fix their glitch. She and her doctor are waiting. Which means she’s worrying. They’ve already told her she has one condition, but the biopsy results are somewhere in the wind. Very aggravating.
Thank you to everyone who’s left me kind words. I appreciate your kindnesses, so very much. I’m still fighting; it’s just that there seems to be one hit after another after another. I pray for positive news soon. For us both.
Again - please, share the information about the AG sale if you will. These items are unique, and they are meant to be owned by fans who will treasure them, as I have. Twitter, Tumblr, please share.
If possible - my mom has a few items up on ebay still - please take a look and see if you find something you’d like to bid on? Have re-listed them so many times without any success. Which kinda piles up the sense distress, you know?
And if at all possible, if you could donate to help us both - I’m firstname.lastname@example.org on paypal if you are able to gift. Even a few dollars will make a world of difference for us now.
Cyber hugs are good too. They help me feel less alone in this…
Thank you all. Hugs x
- - -
PS - Please if your impulse is to send me harassing, snide and mean inbox messages - which has happened before - I’m begging you to skip me over. The bullying is beyond cruel when we’re already so so so very down.
*hugs* This is my dear friend, she legitimately needs assistance. She is a good person and is not out to hurt anyone.
Its hilarious to me how everybody and their asshole seems to have an opinion about how poor people should manage their finances.
If you’re so poor, why do you have a laptop? If you’re so poor, why do you have a phone? A fridge? A cat? A television? Why aren’t you working? Why are you working so little? Why do you eat out? Why don’t you cook more? Why do you spend anything on yourself? Why don’t you get an education? Why don’t you get a better job?
Listen to me: if you don’t know everything about someone’s situation, you are not in a position to judge anyone else.
Do you know what’s required to function at the level that we routinely expect people to function??
The mental strength that is required to endure endless amounts of penury and hardship, to deny yourself all pleasures in service of achieving your goal, to be able to work that hard each day and keep it together enough to wake up the next morning and do it all over again? What it takes to endure that life if you don’t have that mental strength, but you have to do it anyway for the sake of your own survival — for the survival of the people who depend on you?
The absolute fortitude it takes to simply exist when you are facing the hardships that we routinely foist on poor people, in this society? How dare we judge someone for not being able to thrive, when they already are so burdened?
Poverty means not ever having known the feeling of living in safety. Knowing that whatever you have might be ripped out from under you at any time.
Poverty means having to live without the protections that more well-do-to people have the means to access — it means not having a guaranteed roof over your head, not knowing where your next meal is coming from, not knowing where to go if you fall ill, not being able to rely on anyone for help if something drastic happens.
Poverty often means that everyone else you know is poor, too. Which means you likely know someone worse off than you, and you are probably helping them out with any extra cash you have, if you ever have any. Which means that it is nearly impossible to save any money — which means that you can very easily find yourself destitute.
Poverty means that you are living with about fifty times the stress of a person who has always felt safe, sheltered, and protected — that you can’t help but feel powerless, because experience has taught you that there’s very little you can do if life decides to slap you around.
And that stress means that you are much less able to do all those great glorious grand things that an ignorant bystander suggests that you do to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps”. That level of stress means that there are things that you might not be able to deny yourself, even if you don’t have the means to have them. Rest and relaxation are not luxuries; they are necessities. Even a person without means deserves a chance to do something that calms their nerves. A person who is terrified every night that their next paycheck might not cover the cost of groceries — well, even they have a right to watch a damn movie, once in a while, if it helps take their mind off things for an hour.
Mental health is a prerequisite for living in this world, do you hear me?
Don’t ever judge anyone for doing what they need to do to feel sane, in an insane situation.