Depression: Here We Go Again!

I’ve posted about depression before. Today, I am going to do so again. It is entirely possible I will repeat myself to some extent. However, it never hurts to reconsider important topics.

Earlier this week, I came across an article on ridiculous things those smiling bastards at ATOS have asked welfare claimants. Perhaps the most sparkling example of their unrepentant douchebaggery was posing the question to a depression sufferer, “So, why haven’t you killed yourself, yet?”.

ATOS: Association of Totally Obnoxious Shits

It isn’t a surprising question from ATOS. They like to claim they have medical professionals working for them. I assume what this truly means is that they take people who dropped out of homoeopathy school and give them a certificate. Following a quick orientation, which involves learning how to tick the ‘Fuck this Guy’ box and carry oneself with the overly happy tone of a waitress on cocaine, they send them off to do the bidding of the heartless Tory social cleansing machine.

Those who don’t suffer from depression are often content to ignore its existence. People who are afflicted rarely want to talk about it. We have successfully conditioned people to be ashamed of all but the most socially destructive feelings. I have to confess to feeling trapped in some sort of oddball reality. Stating one’s support for fascism based on irrational fear has somehow become normalised. Informing someone that you’re struggling to cope is seen as the sign of a weak personality.

That depression still carries such a stigma is potentially the reason why someone with alleged medical knowledge inadvertently encouraged a vulnerable person to commit suicide. It is also likely the reason that so few understand it. Instead, there is a host of myths related to depression. Let’s have a look at a few.

1All Depression Sufferers Want to Die

We might as well address this one first. No, they don’t. In fact, few afflicted with depression want to die. Some do, and some end up committing suicide to end the pain. However, many still have family and friends. The idea of causing pain to loved ones is often enough to stop them ending their own via suicide. As someone who suffers from depression, I have thought about ending my life but my responsibilities to others are a pretty big barrier to doing it. That doesn’t mean that depression isn’t serious, however.

2People With Depression Should Pick Themselves Up

More misinformed nonsense. The problem is that when you try to explain this to someone, they often cannot understand it. At the lowest points, depression doesn’t just afflict the mind but the body too. It saps all of your energy to the point that even speaking wears you out. I sometimes have days where all I can do is my carer-related tasks and nothing for myself. Even eating seems like too much effort.

When you wake up in the morning and you cannot bear to face the day, having some chirpy chappy informing you that you just need to sing the blues away is unbearable. I dare say that statistics show this “get on with it” attitude contributes to a significant number of male suicides.

3Depressed People Are Depressed All the Time

Another reason why ATOS have no business assessing mental health complaints. They judge claimants based on a fifteen-minute meeting on a single day. I could be fine on a Monday, feel like I’m trapped in the seventh level of hell on a Tuesday, so-so on a Wednesday and feeling pretty good on a Thursday. Rhyme or reason rarely factors into it. I have very little control over how I feel on any given day. There are a few coping strategies I’ve developed for when things get really rough but I couldn’t tell you whether I’ll be up, down or on my arse this time tomorrow.

Although I don’t have to attend these assessments, I know people who have had to go through it. I’ve seen the emotional fragility, the nerves and panic that ATOS induces because they are not your friend.

4Depression is a Choice

Perhaps because many depression sufferers have good and bad days, some believe that they are choosing to be depressed. Like the people who think they have the right to say to complete strangers, “cheer up, it might never happen”, people think that simply adopting a positive mental attitude will brush the blues away.

Except that isn’t how it works. Depression is a real illness and nobody would choose to have it. Undoubtedly, some things can treat some of the symptoms of depression by stimulating positive reactions. Remember though, treating symptoms is not a cure.

5You Just Need to Get Laid

I probably shouldn’t be too shocked that in our sex-obsessed world, there are those who equate poor mental health to a failure to get off enough. I’ve seen “a good hard shag” prescribed for everything from depression, to getting over Brexit, to dealing with PMS (erm, really?).

Orgasms may have one of those symptom-treating effects I mentioned but it won’t cure the problem. In fact, several studies have suggested that those in the midst of major depressive episodes are prone to make rash decisions over sexual partners. Consequently, they are left feeling worse, not better, after getting laid.

6People Have it Worse Than You so Cheer Up

Another little chestnut people like to toss about. It doesn’t matter how depressed you are, there are awful things happening all over the world so buck up, love. The suffering of others does not diminish the sense of despair that people feel. Reminding depression sufferers that there are awful things happening in the world won’t suddenly change their outlook. You risk making it worse. Of course, there are awful things happening! We know this! And we often feel incredibly guilty at feeling the way we do because of that. Making us feel like awful, selfish people will not help.

Depression is a parasite that feeds off our worst emotions.

7There Must Be a Reason

Humankind is predisposed to look for answers so this isn’t as irritating as other ideas. Depression may well have an obvious cause for some, but not for others. Moreover, though, because depression feeds off our worst emotions, we will often be drawn to events in our lives that have caused us pain, fear, anxiety, etc. None of these alone is necessarily the cause of the illness but they can feed it. Depression can be so difficult to treat, let alone cure because there often isn’t one single event that causes or triggers depressive episodes.

8Depression is All the Same

Which brings me to my final point for today: no, depression is not always the same. Some people have depression because of traumatic events. Others might have it because of neurochemical imbalances. There are those who suffer from depression as a branching illness from another mental health condition. Still, there will be people who have it because they simply cannot cope with how their life is going.

Every sufferer has a different story and a different experience. Trying to group all depression sufferers together in a uniform group simply doesn’t work.