Random Thoughts On Where We “Battle” Depression

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12/24/2013 by syrbal-labrys


image copyI remember reading “Brave New World” and feeling my entire face twinge when any “alpha” or “beta” had a rough thought(say about how badly ‘deltas’ or ‘gammas’ were treated), how they sucked in some “soma” to still those negative moments. It reminded me, uncomfortably, of America’s reaction to anything that could be labeled “depression.” I have had a low level depression most of my life, certainly since about age ten.

Mine is increased by situational events; mostly I manage without drugs. I’ve had plenty of time to experiment with things the doctor ordered, and with the most common cultural “cures”. Sugary stuff and chocolate once worked wonders for at least giving me the energy to get out of bed. Alcohol did not make depression worse, but hyped me up so much sleep was impossible. I pretty much don’t drink these days, aside from a single glass of wine or mead with a festive dinner. I LIKE sleep, you see. I used to get classic “holiday” depression, but I no longer am troubled by that. That ended, when instead of upping a dose of pills to cope with holiday family interactions, I QUIT trying to be agreeably smiley through the holidays and QUIT seeing toxic relatives who had a fixed idea of how to fuck up my life to THEIR satisfaction. See, a pill couldn’t fix that; only getting rid of the real PROBLEM fixed it.

I was on anti-depressants from 2001 through about 2006, on Wellbutrin. It did not render me a drooling wreck or do nothing at all like other pills my doc attempted. As soon as I saw how ignorant George Bush was, I knew I was going to need help, you see? No, I am not kidding. But though Wellbutrin was effective, after five years I began to have twitches and headaches that suggested I might stroke out if I kept taking it. It WAS what enabled me to get out of a bed of apathy and DEAL with daily life, so I had a struggle at first learning to function again.

So, since then, I’ve dealt with the rest of George Bush in office and the disappointment that has been President Obama. I’ve dealt with a major PTSD meltdown in my husband, one that nearly ended our 35+ year marriage. And with a son in a war zone for two tours (back to sugary treats!) I’ve used exercise, dance, chanting, meditation instead of medication. And I yell and vent a lot here. And I feel considerably LESS desperate and suicidal than I ever did back in the days of medical trials. Because I feel in control, not at the mercy of the drugs.

So, why mention this now? Well, because to be utterly honest, as more and more Americans are diagnosed with depression and it seems to be proving more and more “intractable” to drug regimens; a very old idea re-occured to me. Back in the old days, when dinosaurs like me were young and frolicy there was this saying: “If you aren’t depressed, you aren’t paying attention!” Combine that with the habit of many, many people who say “I don’t read/watch the news cause it depresses me,” and it really worries me. What if SOME of that massive load of depression is not so much a brain chemical mediated sort at all? What if it is, in fact, our brains screaming at us that SOMETHING IS FUCKING WRONG and we just go on trying to “soma” ourselves into a non-existent peace? If in fact, our brain chemistry is NOT what is making us depressed, how COULD medication work?

Yeah, yeah, I know. I am not a doctor. And I’m of course, not legally capable of telling anyone to discontinue meds. And I quite frankly know there ARE patients rightly given drugs for depression AND other mental health issues. But it is so popular to prescribe pills, even GP docs diagnose depression based on a silly little paper survey. It seems every third person is on some sort of psycho-active drug, and I wonder, is it really working?

Speaking strictly for myself? Maybe the things that make me want to beat myself insensible against my own desk top are NOT in my head, but in my WORLD. And taking a pill isn’t going to fix that for me. So, yes, I do worry when more and more Americans report depression and are offered pills; I likewise worried back in the early ’80’s when my very intelligent son was nagged by teachers to go on Ritalin just because they didn’t want to answer his probing questions. He was NOT ADHD or any such thing. But teachers were already preferring drugged children to normal children.

I’m a big fan of DEALING with life toe to toe. When I do NOT do that, when I try by any means to sedate myself out of confrontation and trouble? THEN I am depressed and filled with self-loathing. I just wonder if America is fighting her depression issues on the wrong battlefield. Passing out pills is so much easier than slogging through other solutions. I just worry that the pills create a whole new class of problems, and solve none of the original ones.

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10 thoughts on “Random Thoughts On Where We “Battle” Depression

  1. someofparts says:

    Back in the 70s a woman I knew who worked at a women’s counseling center told me about going to some kind of big fesitval-ish event in a rural part of our state. She said that all day women would stop by and chat with her and talk about their lives. She said they were having awful lives that would drive any sane person over the edge. They would tell her that their family doctors prescribed medication for their ‘nerves’.

    She said she debated with herself whether or not to level with those women. Finally she decided not to, because they lived in communities where there was not a shred of social support for that sort of thing. She felt it would be wrong to start a woman on a path of awakening and then not be around to help her find her way once the process started.

    Like you, I find that I don’t need the drink or sedatives I used to rely on since I managed to change the things in my real life that made me need them. Toxic relations and toxic jobs are gone. Now I have solitude, dogs and a sweet little green job with decent, down-to-earth people.

    A lifelong friend who has chosen another path is escalating the kind and quantity of drugs and drink she needs because she chooses to pay that price to have what she has – the husband, the family, the house, the social circle.

    Guess I’m agreeing with you that the escalation of medication isn’t because the people are broken but because our communities and nation are broken. And that said, it seems that some of us will choose as I have and others still want all the goodies of life even if they are toxic.

    • It is a difficult thing to acknowledge an entire society is wrong, thus most will now their heads and figure they are the ones that are broken instead. There is not sufficient booze and drugs in the world ….

  2. fdchief218 says:

    You get no argument from me. If you can look around at the wreckage of the civil contract we started with in the Seventies and NOT be depressed…well, you’d have to be Sarah Palin. And I can’t imagine being that delusional.

    We’re returning to the Gilded Age, and if you’re not in the elite then it’s pretty obvious how hard your life is going to suck. That’s not “depression”, that’s “accepting reality”, and hopefully enough of that reality will sink in for the bulk of us to remember that the best places for the “heads of society” are on pikes.

  3. Big Bad Bald Bastard says:

    Well, because to be utterly honest, as more and more Americans are diagnosed with depression and it seems to be proving more and more “intractable” to drug regimens; a very old idea re-occured to me.

    We live in terrible times, and so much of the “self-worth” that is pushed on people is dependent on their socioeconomic status.

    Maybe the things that make me want to beat myself insensible against my own desk top are NOT in my head, but in my WORLD.

    You hit the nail on the head. The crazy thing is that corporate malfeasance is causing the problem, and the very same corporations are selling the “cure”. Yeah, we’re nothing but sources of income for them.

  4. Sixbears says:

    My response to the insanity of an administration that got us into another useless and unnecessary war? That’s when I started to swear. I’d been saving it for a time when I really needed it. Never swore before. That was the final straw.

    Childhood depression was ignored as it wasn’t allowed. My lesson there was to suffer in silence.

    When I gave up trying to fit in, my mood improved greatly. Not fitting in to this insane society saved my sanity.

  5. karen says:

    Wow. I could have written that post.
    Krishnamurti says, “it is no measure of health to be well adjusted in a profoundly sick society.”

    I too see soma all around us. I notice my own depression is worst when I am aware of the wrongness of my fit in the life around me.
    In my late 40’s, and having suffered my own depression for as long as I can remember, I feel like I can stand outside it and just observe it now.
    I laugh whenever the depression industry harps about help being available. I attempted suicide in 2007. To my great shame, it was my teenage daughter who caught me. She made my husband take me to emerg, where the nurses treated me like I was every kind of bad and a waste of their time besides. The doctor told me that since my daughter and husband clearly loved me and I had a job, I had no reason to be depressed and should go home and behave. No more of this nonsense, he said.
    I still have a kernel of hope that I have a tribe here somewhere, that my wrongness is not planetary. I have said for years that my ship crashed here a long long time ago and I can’t get home. Only once have I ever met anyone who understood that I was not actually joking, and said he felt the same way.

    I am not a doctor either, but I have thought all those same things. My husband was called ADHD, but not medicated. His mother somehow discovered that coffee calmed him. I have known many people who were called ADHD, some officially, some self diagnosed. I have always thought there was some kind of genius in most of them. I am also not a Christian, nor am i waiting for a savior, but i suspect that Christ would be diagnosed and soma-ed into obedience if he ever got back here somehow.

    • Don’t worry, you have a tribe, alright. My father was a suicide, his mother suicided by starving herself to death. Seeing the damage that left behind, I swore I would endure whatever pain there was to not pass on that thread of misery and never-ending questions. But I do not believe every suicide is either (1) a bad person, (2) crazy, or (3) “just angry”. I think suicide can be a valid choice where physical, mental, or emotional pain is unbearable and unrelievable.

      Obviously, that makes me unpopular in a lot of circles. I am used to it. It just seems we have increasingly narrow fields for defining “normal”…it becomes a rather boring homogenization of humanity at times. If monoculture is not good for farming (as it is not), why the hell would a mental monoculture of human behaviors be desired?

      I am sorry you feel so otherworldly, I love this planet with such an excess I am pretty sure I am native. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know what it is to be cut out from the herd! All the lone wolves should consider making their own “pack” and harrying the hell out of the “shepherds” that keep the sheep in such a starvation acres “fold.”

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Herland

The name of this blog, and my Dreamwidth blog, Herlander Refugee, is taken from a 1915 feminist novel "Herland". It makes my heart sing that modern women are experimenting with creation of a new "Herland"! Yes, comments are closed. Anyone who just MUST reach me can do so at syrbal6 at gmail dot com.

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