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Friday, January 12, 2007
(12:30 AM) | Stephen:
I am Depression

Important Note: I wasn't completely clear with this post, and for that I apologize. Please read this post with the understanding that I'm doing better than I ever have in my whole life. I actually have been able to find a good medicine regimen, and I'm continually amazed at how great my life is. As Jeffrey Wilson said in comments, there is HOPE. Indeed, and what a powerful thing that is, what a joy to finally understand that word. So thank you, Jeffrey and Sanpete, for such kind words.

Clinical Depression. Unipolar Disorder. Dysthymic Disorder. These words say so little, really, about "Depression." They don't convey the intricate relationships between dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, the disruption of which can be so damaging to our emotions and our bodies.

At least, we think that Depression is related to varying levels of these neurotransmitters and how quickly - or not - or brains absorb them after emitting them. Sure, most antidepressants are reuptake inhibitors for one or more of them - SSRI's, SNRI's, SDRI's. But we're not really sure if it is in the increased presence of these chemicals itself or in the spontaneous generation of new neurons that actually helps with the symptoms of Depression.

But even if we knew what caused Depression, even if we were able to identify the various forms and causes that each person seems to have uniquely, such knowledge would do nothing to actually describe what Depression is.

It's Soul Cancer. It's a civil war between a psyche ripped in two. It's a corner of my mind, dark and walled off from the rest of me, into which all my evil, all my faults, all my shortcomings and weaknesses have coalesced into a Voice that provides the narrative, the commentary, the definition of my life and actions. Soft, deep, smooth and silky, this Voice tells me the truth about myself, the truth that other people don't know. It comforts me with litanies of my perversions and sins, with epic lists of what makes me truly loathesome, repugnant, undeserving of any kindness from my fellow human beings.

The words that the Voice speaks form a web, and extra skin about me that dulls my senses and blocks me from actually touching, smelling, tasting and emotionally feeling the world. It blocks in the "real me," yet speaks to me of the Deeper Truth of who I really am, what a disgusting beast I have made of myself. This corner of my mind sucks my energy, my power and my will, transforming them into a vile pollution of hatred, fear and despair, soiling and staining me from the inside out.

Oh, this Voice that I fight is me. The war I wage is against myself. He is me and I am he, we are both the true and the false Stephen, the facade and the building beneath.

This is Depression. This and sitting on the couch watching TV, switching jobs every year or couple of years in search of the "perfect" job that will make me happy, taking a decade to finish a Master's degree, and so many more unhealthy coping habits.

Depression is being married to a beautiful, talented woman, the indisputable evidence of a loving and good God, having a bright, happy daughter and wanting to die because of the hopelessness of it all. Depression is how even now, with great medicines and tools from talk therapy, with a family and friends that know of it and are supportive and caring, with being able to not just function but function well and complete goals, even now what I have written is still true. I have battled the Voice, I have beaten it back, I have invited it into the rest of me and have attempted to give that Voice a voice with the rest of me. I have changed so much of what I believe about myself and the world. I no longer believe that God hates me. Yet that corner of my mind is still there, smaller and weaker, but still my Accuser, my Adversary who waits and broods and plots my demise.

Depression is this and so much more, so much that can never be explained to people who don't have it. Depression is diarrhea and cramps from the medicines, doctors who don't really know what they're talking about, family and friends who think the answer is to pray more, strangers who think it's of no account and is an excuse for poor choices.

Because of the many things that Depression is, I read today about Gary from Amygdala with great admiration. What courage it took for him to tell his story so completely and so publicly. And what shame he must feel to have done it. Within his blog post he repeatedly berates himself for poor choices he made in the past even as he admits that the causes of those choices were really beyond his control.

Gary needs help. He needs money. If you have any to give, then give it. Not because he's a great writer - I don't read his blog. Not because he's a great person - I don't know him. Do it because what he has done is a massive triumph, a shining testament to the power of simply not giving up. By baring his soul, by asking for money, Gary has won a great victory over Depression. If you have the means, then, help him to build on this victory so that more may come in the future. So that Gary will be able to continue to tell his story and recount his victories for the rest of us that need them so badly.

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