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Be A Hero With Depression


GoldenEve

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Hi to everyone who will take the time to read this,

Just want to share with all of you something that I read online, it made me feel much better about myself, hope it will do the same for you.

“A hero is an ordinary person who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles” – Christopher Reeve.

People with depression often think of themselves as less than – less than competent, less than successful — even less than, remarkably, a good person. This inner dialogue can circle the block fifty times a day. Often, such people live very successful professional and personal lives – at least on the outside. Looking out their office windows, they privately fear that others will find out just how incompetent they really are; or, worse yet, that they have clinical depression: then what will they think? They sit on the lid of a boiling pan of depression hoping they can get it under control. But that hasn’t worked. The steam keeps pushing the lid upward.

Most folks with depression, in some fundamental sense, feel broken. This sense is fueled by the depression itself – both biological (poor sleep, appetite, energy levels) and psychological (distorted pessimistic thinking: e.g. “Nobody really cares about me”, “I stink at my job” or “My depression will never end.”). But this burden of brokenness isn’t just an “inside job” – crummy stuff they tell themselves about themselves. Other people or events in suffering peoples’ daily orbits serve up damaging assessments and innuendos about a depressive behavior or personhood.

They may tell a depressed person that they are letting everybody down at the office (e.g. not billing enough hours, not producing what they used to produce) or not contributing enough to family responsibilities. The problem is not that these are not important and legitimate concerns. The problem is that others, in an attempt to snap the depressive back into his or her higher functioning pre-depression state, employ three misguided strategies.

The first is to deny the immensity of the suffering of the depressed by minimizing it: “Don’t worry, things will get better. You’re just in a slump.”

The second, the well-worn American anthem, “Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps and stop whining.”

And the third, the plea to a depressed person to just count his or her blessings.

When I disclosed to one of my law partners years back that I was suffering from major depression, he was stunned . . . and angry. He snapped, “You know, you’ve got a hell of a lot to feel grateful about. You’ve got a beautiful family and a great job. For God sake, go on a damn vacation!” Little did he know that I was depressed, even on vacation.

Even if others don’t say these things, we know on some deep level that they’re thinking it.

Then there is the cultural stigma – a cloud of ignorance, fear and misunderstanding – surrounding depression. American culture tends to see depression as a moral or personal weakness; the “just-get-over-it” rants of a society that likes simplistic answers to complicated problems. Dr. Richard O’Connor, author of the book Undoing Depression, captures some the irony of how our society sees depression as different from – or maybe not as real as – other forms of illness:

Where’s the big national foundation leading the battle against depression? Where is the Jerry Lewis Telethon and the Annual Run for Depression? Little black ribbons for everyone to wear? The obvious answer is the stigma associated with the disease. Too much of the public still views depression as a weakness or character flaw, and thinks we should pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. And all the hype about new antidepressant medications has only made things worse by suggesting that recovery is simply a matter of taking a pill.

Too many people with depression take the same attitude; we are ashamed of and embarrassed by having depression.

This is the cruelest part of the disease: we blame ourselves for being weak or lacking character instead of accepting that we have an illness, instead of realizing that our self-blame is a symptom of the disease. And feeling that way, we don’t step forward and challenge unthinking people who reinforce those negative stereotypes. So we stay hidden away, feeling miserable and blaming ourselves for our own misery”.

In my view, folks with depression are not so much hapless, as they are heroes.

What’s a hero after all? Someone who has a great challenge to confront? Check. Someone who must confront great adversity? Check. Someone who must get up every day and do battle with a formidable adversary? Check. You see, for those of you who are struggling with depression right now, YOU are that person. You’re the person who has to get up every day and cope with your depression. Others can help and support you, but it’s ultimately your walk to walk. And what a courageous walk it is; every single step of it.

Some of the best people that I’ve been privileged to know struggle with depression. While they don’t have shiny medals pinned on their lapels, there is an unmistakable strength in them – even if they don’t see it. I know it’s real because I see and feel it – just like when I am in a grove of giant and majestic pines during a walk in the forest.

Why can’t we depressives re-imagine our self-image in relationship to our depression in a more positive light? Why can’t we think of our battles with depression as, in fact, heroic? Instead of counting all of times that depression has gotten the better of us and knocked us to our knees, how about embracing and giving ourselves some damn credit for all of the times that we have triumphed over our depression, the times that they have risen to the occasion at work and home, in spite of our melancholy and the moments we’ve looked depression in the eye and said, “No more.” Make no mistake about it that takes gumption – and lots of it!
Here is some food for thought for you heroes:

Remember that a depression doesn’t last forever. You will come out of it, even if you go back into the muck sometimes. Or maybe even a lot. Maybe you fall down 30 times a day, or maybe it’s just a stumble. But keep your balance and get up. As the old Zen saying goes, “Fall down seven times — get up eight.” That, my friends, is heroic.

Remember that depression is only a small part of who you are – you’re not your depression. You have an illness that needs treatment, understanding and respect.

Remember that you have some, to lesser or greater degree, control over your depression. It is heroic to insist on carrying out your day’s responsibilities, to the best of your ability, even when you’re struggling with depression. Dr. O’Connor once said to me, “Dan, depression isn’t our fault. But it is our responsibility to get better.”

Remember that when you’re in a depression and feel like you don’t have some measure of control over it; that you can and will endure it until it passes – and it will pass.

Remember not condemn yourself when you are down, but pick yourself up and remember that you are, truly, remarkable people. Here’s an idea. If and when you talk to someone about your depression, try telling a different story. Often, people with depression describe themselves as “broken” or in some other sort of negative way. What if you spoke of yourself to others like this: “You know, I have been dealing with this depression lately. It gets me down, but I get back up. And when I think about that, I think about how heroic I’ve been to deal with this all the time.” It’s very important for you and others to give you credit and acknowledge, maybe for the first time, the strength it takes to take on and deal with depression.

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This life is unfair and does not give us what we want. It takes away from those people who have problems in life and gives to those who have nice happy lives. We who never wanted to have depression have depression and are forced to live with it due to this life being unfair. Yet we think that this life will give us who are depressed and/or have anhedonia (emotional numbness) at least some fair advantage through inspiring mesages from others such as that we are strong, courageous, and better people for having suffered from depression and for moving forward in life despite of it. But that, to me, is something not true at all. The truth is that we want something fair given to us through inspiring messages such as these, but this life is unfair and, for that very reason, messages such as these are not true at all and is something this unfair life won't give to us. Inspiring messages such as these are delusional. We as human beings are always looking for positive things in life and even invent inspiring messages and such to give us false hopes and a false sense of moving forward in life. For example, people have invented religion and say that there is a God and a heaven. But I am an atheist and know that this is not true and don't believe in such superstition.

So these inspiring messages and inspiring philosophies that say we are stronger and such for having problems in life, this is yet another one of those concocted beliefs I don't believe in. Now if you are going to say something such as that depression has inspired you to help more people suffering and in pushing and striving more in life to get more things done and such, the truth is that you can help others and push and strive and do great things in life just as good as (and even better) through living nice happy lives than those people who do through their life of suffering and despair. This can be done through living a nice happy life under the right circumstances. Therefore, our suffering and despair is truly pointless and we are not better or stronger people for having gone through it and for moving forward in life despite of it. Although some forms of struggle do have a benefit such as becoming more physically fit through hard training in the military which would be the "no pain, no gain" mentality in having gained something that living a nice happy live couldn't achieve, there are forms of struggle in this life that are truly pointless. Depression as well as anhedonia is one of these pointless struggles and is nothing but pointless misery (especially for those who can't gain any betterment from their suffering and are doomed to an entire life of suffering).

Depression and anhedonia do not offer any greater benefit than living a nice happy life. Therefore, we are all instead inferior as opposed to those people who live nice happy lives. So happy people with nice lives are truly the better and stronger people with the better lives compared to us. Now some scientific studies show that people who went through trauma and depression become more compassionate and caring and become better leaders and such that living a nice happy life could never achieve. Although this might hold true for some people, this does not hold true for everyone and is not a proven scientific fact. There are many other scientific studies indicating the opposite and I have every reason to instead believe these scientific studies. I have every reason to instead believe that you can be the better compassionate person and better in other ways as well under the right circumstances through living a nice happy life. For example, anyone can be a better compassionate person by changing his/her attitude as well as through other things in life. Another example would be that you can be the more intelligent person and help others suffering through your intelligence by reading and studying up on things. In other words, you do not have to suffer in order to be a better/smarter/more creative person.

Now here's another thing I would like to say which is that who you are as a person is all things about you (your thoughts, knowledge, personality, attitude, your pleasure and other emotions, etc.). Therefore, to lose your ability to experience pleasure or other emotions due to depression or anhedonia (emotional numbness) would make you a lesser person. Also, it's the people who don't accept a lifelong depression or anhedonia that are at least the better people because they are more compassionate in telling others to try and live your life all you can to recover your ability to experience pleasure.

This is a topic on this forum that shows an example of what I mean:

http://www.depressionforums.org/forums/topic/83323-answers-to-curing-anhedonianumbnesszombienessno-emotionsapathyno-libido-collective-experiences/

There is a user named "itstrevor" who realizes that there are people who can never accept living a life of depression or anhedonia and are on the brink of either suicide or homicide because of this. For the sake of these very types of people, itstrevor does not tell anyone to accept a lifelong depression or anhednoia that might never get better. Instead, he encourages these people to keep trying all they can to recover their ability to experience pleasure. So this is the reason why people such as itstrevor are better compassionate people as opposed to those people who live by philosophies and such that encourage acceptance of living an entire life of suffering and despair. People with acceptance of living an entire life of depression or anhedonia that might never get better or fully recover are the lesser people and are less compassionate because they instead tell others to accept a lifelong depression or anhedonia and even tell this to the faces of those who are on the brink of suicide or homicide. People such as itstrevor are also the better people because they never give up on trying to recover their pleasure and instead inspire others to not give up on this either. But people with acceptance are discouraging and will drive people to suicide or homicide.

Edited by MattMVS7
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Thank you MattMVS7 for speaking you mind, not sure if I understand your point but...I don't think that you are getting the point of what I posted. Believe me, life for me wasn't pave in gold and quite unfair many times but i'm a survivor and I won't back down and will fight until I die. I truly believe that happiness is available for everyone depressed or not if you really want to found it and put all the effort doing so you will succeed. So sorry for those who doesn't believe like I do, but if I wouldn't believe that because sometime I'm depressed I will never be happy again what would be the point of me still wanting to live so...

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Thank you MattMVS7 for speaking you mind, not sure if I understand your point but...I don't think that you are getting the point of what I posted. Believe me, life for me wasn't pave in gold and quite unfair many times but i'm a survivor and I won't back down and will fight until I die. I truly believe that happiness is available for everyone depressed or not if you really want to found it and put all the effort doing so you will succeed. So sorry for those who doesn't believe like I do, but if I wouldn't believe that because sometime I'm depressed I will never be happy again what would be the point of me still wanting to live so...

My point is that we are not better or stronger people for having suffered from depression or anhedonia. Instead, we are lesser and weaker people for having suffered through it and that we would be better and stronger people through living nice happy lives instead.

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OKIDOUKI! I got your point, but... I still disagree with you. I don't think for one minute that we are weaker or lesser, we understand better then anyone what pain and suffering is, I know I do, and I also able better then a lots of peoples to accept the pain and suffering that life might through at me and also I can understand the pain and suffering of others. Also this posting doesn't say that we are better because we are going through depression it's only an eye opener to everyone with depression, to let them know that fighting and surviving with depression is quite heroic. A hero is an ordinary person who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles I truly believe that.

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OKIDOUKI! I got your point, but... I still disagree with you. I don't think for one minute that we are weaker or lesser, we understand better then anyone what pain and suffering is, I know I do, and I also able better then a lots of peoples to accept the pain and suffering that life might through at me and also I can understand the pain and suffering of others. Also this posting doesn't say that we are better because we are going through depression it's only an eye opener to everyone with depression, to let them know that fighting and surviving with depression is quite heroic. A hero is an ordinary person who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles I truly believe that.

Well, that "heroic" meaning you have applied or any other positive meaning for that matter would be the weaker and lesser meaning compared to how much stronger and better we would be through living nice happy lives based on my arguments in my post. It would be irrational to think that this "heroic" meaning is somehow better. It would be irrational in terms of science and would be irrational in terms of philosophy. It would also be irrational in terms of everything I'm already saying in my writing here.

Also,

I believe in evolution and that our sole purpose is to survive. In other words, the phrase "survival of the fittest" is our motto in life and is our only purpose in living. Those with anhedonia and depression as well as other major problems are the most unfit for survival (the weakest) while those with nice happy lives are the most fit for survival (the strongest) and that is what makes these happy people superior. We are nothing special or strong for having suffered and for moving forward in life despite our suffering because we would still be unfit for survival (weak). Strong (in terms of science) is when you gain something. For example, if you are strong from working out, that would mean you have gained muscles. Weak would then be the opposite. So it's as simple as losing a part of you through depression or anhedonia (which would be your pleasure and/or other emotions) would make you weaker. But any other meaning we give to words such as "strong" or "weak" besides what they are in terms of science, those types of meanings would be irrational and false since there is nothing beyond science. Also, as I said before, any gains we obtain from suffering and despair are gains we can achieve just as good (and even better) through living nice happy lives and that is what makes us lesser and weak compared to who we would be through living nice happy lives and in comparison to those who do live nice happy lives.
Edited by MattMVS7
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GoldenEve, thanks for sharing the writing. There are enough people who judge something they have no experience with---like depression---and label those with it as somehow lesser that too many people who deal with depression internalize that notion. Many can benefit from paying attention to their accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem, while dealing with this disease.

Matt. Hogwash. There are people living happy little lives that wouldn't have survived what I have been through. They are no stronger for living happy lives and if put to the test they would be proven weaker---but I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

Many will never learn compassion because they are content to stay in their little cocoons believing whatever fodder is fed to them. I know a woman who only learned compassion in her 60s because she was felled by a life-threatening illness---before that she believed all illness is in the person's head since she had never been sick in her life. Now that she has recovered her compassion is slipping. Compassion isn't learned in a classroom and is not something most will learn unless they have faced some adversity.

I am no weaker or lesser than anyone. There are so many flaws in these repetitive arguments that I will not get into further discussion of it because I have no need to waste my time with someone so entrenched in their own belief that they aren't open to the possibility of anything else. There is no data to support this opinion---if we were weak we wouldn't be here.

If you want to believe you are lesser, weaker, or inferior that is your choice---if it helps you to improve your life then good for you. It is offensive to continually belabor us with this idea that we are somehow less than. For some that come here for help, support, and community it is downright dangerous.

Edited by onmyown
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