Explaining Depression

I try to explain it by saying that normal people need reasons to be sad but depressed people need reasons to be happy.  It’s not as simple as that, as much as I’d like that to be the case.  The truth is that it’s far more difficult to explain in broad generalities because each person is different and each case is unique.  People always ask: why are you sad?  I always respond that it’s not something that I have any control over.  It’s a state of mind.  It’s not biologically possible for me to be in a good mood without an extraordinarily good reason.  Most people need a reason to be sad, but I need a reason to be happy otherwise I’m sad.  It really is that simple, for me at least.  If I can go through the day just being casually indifferent I think that’s a step in the right direction.

Happiness is almost always short-lived as I’m fairly certain that I’ve neglected something rather significant to worry about.  The worried worrier isn’t a person it is a state of mind.  Some have asked how one becomes a worried worrier like it’s the equivalent of being a doctor or a lawyer.  Believe me if this were a paid position then about a quarter of the population would have permanent employment for the rest of their lives.  We tend to look at people who suffer from depression as being so incredibly different than everyone else that they’re almost on another rung of the social hierarchy, somewhere above convicted felon, but below the normal guy who works his 9-5 and just lives his life.  In reality suffering from depression is like walking around with a weight on your back.

Think of life as a leg press where you can put the peg where you like and press as much as you can.  We start off relatively easy at say one hundred pounds when we’re born.  Some are born into rougher circumstances than others so if you’ve got a child missing a parent add fifty pounds to that leg press.  Other children are born with physical or psychological disabilities, if so add another fifty pounds.  By the time a child reaches the age of five or six you should know how much they’re going to have to lift.  Just how much baggage will they go through life with?  It’s impossible to say at this early stage, the press doesn’t really set itself or establish any pattern of normalcy until you’re about thirty years old.

Things happen in life where we need to account for an increase in the amount of weight they have to deal with every day.  For some their burden is relatively small, perhaps it hasn’t gone up that much since the initial weigh in at five or six years old, but say that you have an accident in your teens or lose a loved one before the age of eighteen.  These events add significant weight to what you need to press every single day.  I often think that world would be a far better place if everyone understood exactly how much everyone around them had to life.

It’s impossible to know what someone else is suffering through, so I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but when you think of the menu of options in terms of what can go wrong in life it’s quite amazing that some people are able to even get up in the morning.  At a certain point however even the strongest athlete isn’t going to be able to move that leg press anymore and you’d think that when someone gets to that stage they would be at the end of their life when in reality they are, in most cases, just barely beginning.

Some people give up on life.  I’ve never really understood why they give up until I started thinking of life as a leg press as I’ve just described.  When you think of the enormous amount of weight you start understanding why someone might not want or in many cases be able to deal with that enormous strain on their life.  The worried worrier rarely stops worrying and if he does he does so just for a moment.  The worried worrier doesn’t worry because he has to, he has conditioned himself in such a way that his mind actually encourages him to find things to worry about.

Think about all of the normal things that normal people let roll off their back.  You get cut off on your way to work or you get cheated out of a parking space, perhaps the person on the elevator was especially annoying today, maybe the elevator was down and you had to take the stairs.  These are things that the normal person may get upset about, but for them it only lasts for a short time.  For the worried worrier these things can eat away at our psyche for days.  Now let’s say that you didn’t get cut off on your way to work, let’s say that you didn’t get cheated out of a parking space and you got to take the elevator up with little to no problems.  The worried worrier isn’t necessarily better off because something bad hasn’t happened to him, he’s actually been deprived of something to worry about.  Thus the worried worrier will look for even smaller things to concern himself with and his day gets progressively better or worse depending on the relative expediency with which things get done.

In the end, the worried worrier isn’t primarily concerned with you or me he is worried about himself.  This isn’t to say that he doesn’t care about other people usually exactly the opposite is true.  Normally for a worried worrier we’ll worry just as much about someone else as we will about ourselves, but that’s not the point.  Being a worried worrier is about having something with which to fill your mind and occupy your time while the rest of the world goes about its business.  Being a worried worrier is something you become, but it’s also something you’re born as.  The level of worry that the worried worrier carries around with him perpetuates itself through life until eventually like the depression that eats away at us by piling weight after weight on it becomes a state of mind.

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2 thoughts on “Explaining Depression

  1. I’m an avid reader & I’ve always been..I read for pleasure as well as research/studies..What I’ve found is that the type of books I enjoy the most are by authors who can paint a “visual picture” of topics/places/people that I’ve never seen or heard about..and YET I get totally into the characters or topic as I’m reading the book/article/novel or whatever. You do that with such finesse that I find interest in topics I never thought I’d find interesting…Very well written write

  2. Hello,
    I had clinical depression for years due to the location of an undiagnosed brain tumor. It is something only those who have lived it can understand, although there are good people out there who want to understand and help. I hope your days get better and I pray you find happiness today, even if it is in a very small thing that blesses you.

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