Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Pretender

I'm having some issues right now coming to terms with who and what I am, exactly, vis a vis this whole depression thing. I have to say that it really gets my goat when people treat this like it is something that I can choose to deal with or not deal with. Sure, the same shit happens to most of us. And sure, some of us make conscious decisions to ignore it, or to blow it out of proportion. I know people of both types.

But then there are those of us with a biological failing. Our brains aren't capable of making that distinction. Our brains react before we can stop them. We don't have the luxury of control that some people do. If all I had to do was to *choose* not to be sad, to *choose* not to be angry, what are the odds that I would ignore that choice and live this way voluntarily?

My mom recently had a good friend die of cancer. It was a particularly gruesome kind of cancer, not that there's a "good" kind. And to the end, to the very last day, she kept saying that she was going to beat this, she was going to live, she wasn't going to die. She said that she "chose" to live. And did it keep her alive? No. The cells in charge did what they do, and she died anyway.

I can "choose" to be happy all I want. Many days, I get up and take special note of all the things I see that should make me happy. I have affirmations. I have mantras. I "think positive." Does it help?

No, not really. I still get sad. I still get angry. I still get overwhelmed by feelings of despair and hopelessness. If I could *choose* not to respond to them, *choose* not to be depressed, why in the world would I live this way? Do people truly think that depressed people are just choosing to wallow in their sadness? That we're staying sad on purpose? To what end?


Ninotchka said...

I don't believe that. I've been in "the tunnel" as you well know and it's such a dark, scary place of physical self-betrayal. Perhaps even more so BECAUSE you know it makes no sense and that "you should know better." Which of course you do but it's not up to you, is it? That's when the guilt comes in and kicks you in the teeth while you're down. It's excruciating, I know. I wish I knew how to lift this burden away from you. I do believe with all of my heart that it will pass. My greatest hope for you is that, however it happens, it does pass sooner than later. xxoo

Anonymous said...

hmmm I think that blog was dedicated to me...and my response to your previous blog.

You do run hot and cold alot so I will keep my hands under control but I will invite you to consider this: your mothers friend who died of cancer did beat it. She never quit. She was a lesson to the living to appreciate life, which she did. How sad to think that someone enlightened enough to speak of cathedrals missed that key lesson. When were you ordained judger of success and failure?

Jane said...

Nino - you're sweet and caring, and I appreciate your friendship. te quiero, mi amiga.

Anonymous - I'm allowed to run hot and cold. This is my blog. And yes, you will keep your hands under control, or you will no longer find yourself welcome here. I don't have time in my busy day for toxic people. Reasoned debate, sure. Personal attacks, no.

I am not judging her success or failure. I merely pointed out that *choosing* to stay alive doesn't actually KEEP YOU PHYSICALLY ALIVE. In much the same way that *choosing* to be happy can't always magically make a depressed person happy. Any biologist could tell you that. Don't extrapolate my words into something that I never said. My mother's friend was an amazing woman. I greatly admired her. And now she's dead. And that's the way of things. And I am still sometimes sad. And that is also the way of things. And all the choices in the world can't always change that.

Julie said...

It is hard, I think, for those of us who haven't experienced real depression to understand what it's like.

So, for my part, if I'm stupid sometimes, I am sorry. Just keep telling me the real story, and I will try to understand better.

Jane said...

Julie - I think it's impossible to understand if you've never been through it yourself. That's not a bad thing, just a fact. I can't understand what my friend is going through right now - my mom has never died of cancer. I can *imagine* how devastating, sure, but I don't really know. I still try to sympathize, sure, and I do my best to be a comfort, but I still probably don't get it fully. And that's okay.

I don't necessarily expect you to understand, and I'm glad for you if you don't - you're lucky. And I appreciate the support that you do give more than you know. Don't be sorry! Talking to a depressed person can be your good deed for the day (as though raising three children wasn't enough)...