Jun. 10th, 2018

tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
[CW: discussion of suicide, major depression, child abuse, and trauma]

I've been hearing the trope "Depressed people's brains lie to them" a lot in light of a couple well-known people having recently killed themselves. It's comforting, mostly to people who don't experience major depression. It's also mostly wrong, in my opinion.

Against exorcism

The demonic-possession model of depression, for lack of better words, says that depression is a foreign presence, an invader in an otherwise healthy body. That there is some pure version of you that is not depressed, and depression is unnatural, disordered, a disease process. Like bacteria or a virus that shouldn't be present in your body. You are not depressed, you "have depression", not in the sense that depression is a condition you live with whether or not you're currently having a depressive episode -- but rather, in the sense that depression isn't a fundamental part of who you are.

If depression is a demon and all you need to do to get your real, true, normal, neurotypical self back is to exorcise the demon, then if you seek medication and/or therapy, you're going to have some pretty unrealistic expectations for what it can do for you. Medication and therapy are useful for a lot of people, but they don't turn a depressed person into a non-depressed person the way that antibiotics kill bacteria. (Again, I'm talking about the kind of depression that recurs and doesn't have a clear and immediate situational trigger, not the kind that a person might experience after the death of someone close to them.) I don't know of any evidence to suggest a treatment like that will ever be possible.

We are often told to give others the benefit of the doubt, to not assume the worst possible interpretation of others' actions without more information. Why not apply that principle to yourself? Instead of an unwelcome invader to fight off, can you treat your depression as a friend, albeit one who it's difficult to relate to or communicate with?

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tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

December 2018

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