So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

30 January, 2007


A very stray thought riffing off something on Brownfemipower about depression:

BFP commented "This makes me think a lot about the conversation that Sly had over on his site–about how issues like poverty and militaristic violence and racism and all those other ‘isms *create* depression–and yet the *strategies* the medical community have for dealing with this depression is to completely ignore structural oppression and focus exclusively on the individual."

My thoughts on this are extremely tangled and complex, but mostly circle around the isolation of people with depressive disorders. Not only does the illness itself tend to lead to a sense of disconnection, but engaging with it is still something of a social taboo. Admitting to depression is admitting to a "mental illness", something that will make one untrustworthy in some people's eyes, unreliable, defective. People with depression just need to "get over it" because "everyone feels down sometimes". Having depression is somehow the sufferer's own fault, if they were only more virtuous or more dedicated or something like that, it wouldn't happen.

And having that there makes it easy to reinforce the depression and build the godawful bad habits around it -- the I'll-never-get-along thing, the I'm-not-worth-the-time-and-effort thing, the how-useless-am-I-that-I-can't-even-put-the-dishes-away thing. The more stuff in the environment that feeds into those patterns, the more we depressives are taught to cripple ourselves to save everyone else the time and energy.

And there's this shape of the thing -- I know that the rest of my health affects my depression; I've made changes in my diet and my habits to try to build newer habits that don't have this assumption of inability to hack it as a real person. The changes don't always stick so well, because the habit of inability is a deeply-constructed one, full of "I'll only fail, and then They'll tell me how deficient I am, so why bother?" and "If I just retreat far away from everything, nobody will notice me enough to tell me how useless I am."

There are days that I bolster myself against incapacity with lists: today I did about half the work that needs to be done to make one room usable. I got some laundry together, and I'll start it running as soon as I'm done typing. I emptied the dishwasher and put some of the dirties in it. I wrote about moderating my depression with diet and other things, and started thinking about how to fix cultural attitudes that go for the isolation first and the "Here's a meal that's supposed to help with relevant nutrient balances", which is community-building down at the instinctual shared-food level much later on, and ...

... gonna go put the laundry in, now.


Vieva said...

If you come up with any answers, let me know. *sigh*

It took me forever to admit that I was depressed and go to the doctor. and after less than a week of pills, my husband and my baby both have noticed a difference.

I think we encourage brokenness because it's safer. When we're broken, there's nothing to live up to. There's no standards. We're broken.

What's hard is admitting I'm broken, I'm not perfect, and I have to put myself back together.

And, of course, that I don't make any sense. hard to admit that too.

Anonymous said...

Not easy, never easy, never ever ever ever easy, complicated as much to diagnose as to treat: sometimes life skills are enough, sometimes drugs are enough, sometimes you just have to play it as it lies.

I very much doubt depression is created, having been through it as long and as nastily as I have. And the main reason I doubt it is that I come from a long line of people who were just as far gone as I. Poverty only makes it worse; stigma only makes it worse; the American society's insistence on righteous self-dependence only drives it that further down into the hole.

It's wonderfully easy to give up on life, though, isn't it? I mean, that's what I did for a good 4 years. Constant struggle otherwise.