When I write about depression, I think I’m writing about something a bit different from what people read. I think it makes what I write come off in a way that I didn’t really think about. It showed quite a bit yesterday, when I wrote about positive thinking and depression.
It was pointed out to me that thinking positively can be a way of recovering from depression. Breaking the cycle of negative thinking is a part of healing, and learning to see things in their best light is a good skill to develop. So yes, positive thinking can be a big part of recovering from depression.
The kind of depression I think about when I write is the rock-bottom no-way-out non-functional depression, because that’s where I’ve been several times. I lost the last three months to it. I’ve also had periods of less intense depression, but I tend to think of depression in its worst form. Sometimes I think more in terms of my ‘mild’ periods, where I can do more, like washing myself and helping with a bit of the housework.
Whether I’m looking at what I guess is moderate depression, or whether I’m thinking of the more severe, the popular messages of ‘doing it to yourself’ or ‘think yourself well’ are just a joke. There’s no magical way to adjust the way I think. There’s no question of what my lifestyle or your diet is like, whether I have enough willpower, whether I can let go of my troubles. I am nonfunctional, and the only things that can get me out are meds (sometimes, maybe, if I’m lucky) or tincture of time. My own inner strength (and I have quite enough of that) cannot pull me out, at all. Telling me that it’s my own fault, or even suggesting it, is uneducated rubbish.
So the judgements passed on severe illnesses make me angry. They rub me up the wrong way, because people that make them have no idea about the lives of people that suffer from debilitating mental illnesses.
But if someone has a less catastrophic version of depression, then maybe positive thinking, diet, exercise and so on is enough to help them through what they’re experiencing. I never really talk about this because I just never think about it.
So, where I’m going wrong is in thinking too much about extremes. There are a whole lot of people out there who experience mental illness in a much less intense manner, and perhaps I should think more about them.