Wednesday, November 29, 2006

comment on a comment

I just received this comment on my latest post:
You should do something about your depression, it's hanging on way too much on your blog. If you read through its entirety, I'm sure you'll find it more depressing than Jane Didion's latest book. Perhaps you need daylight lighting in your home in winter to help offset the early dark nights that might trigger sadness?
As much as it may have been well-intentioned, the writer shows a clear misunderstanding of both depression itself and of my blog. I read Joan Didion's latest book. Yes, it was depressing, but it was her truth. I don't write my blog for unselfish reasons. I blog, in part, to articulate what it is like to live with depression. It is always interesting to me how people who do not have depression regard it as some sort of weakness of character, or equate it with sadness. My depression is not due to lack of light; I have lived with this all my life and it hits me regardless of season. And if depression is hanging on "way too much" in this blog, I can't apologize. It's my life. C'est tout.

There is one bonus that creative types like me get from depression. I think it compels me to create beautiful things. So maybe then there is a balance after all.


lodgerlow said...

Again, acknowledging that Pate's comment may have been well-intentioned, I too flinch when I hear similar advice. As well as being depressive I am also neurotic - so I love nothing better than to latch onto the suggestion that I am responsible for what I am experiencing. Therefore if I just did this and this and stopped doing that and that then I'd have normal moods like everyone else. [I'd be lying if I denied still believing that this is true.] Being neurotic, I need to believe that my suffering is all of my doing. So if Pate had written the same comment on my blog I'd have gone onto a massive self-help drive, to curtail my symptoms. For info, my obsessively detailed self-management regime does work. It does relieve the depression symptoms... and replaces them with a similarly unyielding obsession. Nothing gets out, nothing gets in.

Here in the UK we have a different problem. Recent months have seen a proliferation of celebrities coming out of the mental health closet to add it to their CVs (under the 'other cool things about me' heading). Some of these folk "get the blues" and sort themselves out by a trip to the hairdresser and a day shopping with pals, and a white wine lunch. They give us an I can get over this depression and so can you message. Which is galling for people who fight themselves daily, for years, to hear. The result of this is that people are popping up everywhere saying that they have conquered their 'depression'. The media and their photogenic medical experts are now conflating Clinical Depression, with a single acute depressive episode (such as the normal healthy response to bereavement or divorce).

Folk who suffer from clinical depression are trying to distance themselves from these depression-tourists, by saying 'we are different from you and mine ain't something that a glass of wine with a pal is going to resolve, honey'. Which reinforces the general public's stereotype that depressives are attention-seekers, and don't want to help themselves. Ignorant fuckers. I can't summons the energy to dignify those comments with a response.

Thierry said...

Right, Jon... C'est tout. Don't apologize. Certainly don't. People should like you for who you are, not for how they'd want you to be. I liked you from the first time I read your blog because you were true and honest with your depression. Call it a illness... Probably. Although, lately I have wondered if people not depressed were not just suffering of a kind of mental blindness... Which is worse ?

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