“Depression” is a really tricky word. As with all things related to mental health, it’s not as well understood as it should be. Health should cover the whole person — mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually — but we all know that that is not often what people mean when they talk about “health”. Non- physical suffering is harder to locate and treat, and gets washed up amongst cultural, social, gender and other factors, such that it remains in many ways opaque.
I want to start by saying that this is a deeply personal issue to me and something I care about intrinsically. Ten years ago, I was told that I probably had Major Depression, and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Scary, capital-letter-words. For many people, these titles are really useful — they legitimise something you feel to be true, but that is hard to place. They can make you feel like ‘Yes, finally! I’m not just making it up.’ They give substance to thoughts and experiences you struggle to define.
In my case, they are labels I have struggled to come to terms with. What does “Generalised Anxiety Disorder” even mean? These are a bunch of words that seem to mean it’s okay to treat me like I’m permanently damaged. I have had to carve out ways to deal with something that might never leave me — strategies and truths all bundled up in the defence of a big dose of the sads. Here are just a few of the things I have learned:
Dealing with depression is individual, though many of us express similar symptoms
Every person’s experience of depression is individual. It may not be a permanent state of affairs, it can come about as a result of an event or circumstance — this does not make it less painful. Mine sometimes manifests as having a Nobody Will Ever Really Love Me cry, and sometimes it manifests as a Marathon All of Game of Thrones. Sometimes they happen at the same time. While eating my body weight in Chinese food. You just never know. Researchers continue to try to characterise types of depression (according to this article below, I’m in Biotype 4). Regardless of what “types” of depression exist, the…