Is depression a good thing? Maybe. Maybe not.

2016-08-14T11:42:16+00:00 Depression|

I’ve always managed to complete my homework. From grade school math to university English I’ve never failed to attack the problem or argue a thesis. Sure, not all equations were elegantly solved and a thesis or two may have needed more proof, but my assignments were done and delivered on time. Go me. A+

Fast forward a decade (or three) and I sit here stumped with an incomplete. I don’t fear a failing grade since I’m not studying for marks or degrees or kudos. My problem-solving essay is more of a life skills acquisition sorta thing, which is far more useful than any grade. And yet with no pressure to perform I sit here, stumped.

The assignment seemed simple enough. When initially given by Dr. Niki, my smart yet sometimes sneaky psychologist, the one-line exercise went something like this:

“What are the positives that came from your depression?”

Maybe she asked it differently. Maybe she used a medical term. Perhaps she spouted off some science. Or likely she delivered my homework by turning a page from the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) life lesson book. Regardless of how intelligently her question was posed, my inner intellect got annoyed and allowed my less-nerdy self to unleash an F-Bomb.

F—!

It felt so good. So I unleashed another. F—! (The best F-Bombs come in pairs, BTW.) Anyways.

Could anything good come out of depression?

Does being depressed have benefits?

My negative self-talkin’ self took the bait and went south. A third F-Bomb. (In Canada this is known as a ‘Hat Frick’). Anyways.

Other then a few choice swears, I came up blank. Dr. Niki laughed, and told me to think about it.

Perfect, because “thinking” was the probable problem that got me here in the first place. Thinking, rethinking, ruminating, over thinking, recursive rethinking about the over thinking, and stewing in the brutality of my own self-loathing thoughts was but one function that led me to the dark place known as depression. And now a professional person was asking me to “think about” the positive side of a negative turn.

I paid my money, because professional people who ask annoying questions get paid. I bought some mint bittersweet chocolate from Laura Secord because depressed and formerly depressed and never depressed people often find chocolate tasty. And I took the subway westward because after paying professionals and buying a kilogram of chocolate I needed a cheap way home.

With a cup of tea in one hand I stuffed the bitter sweets into my face with the other. Gobsmacked, I sat in a still place seeking the Martha Stewart of sadness — “Depression, it’s a good thing”. Exclamation point or question mark?

marthastewart_goodthing

Ugh. More chocolate and another hot cup of tea.

Despite being outta The Pit for a while, I thunk a few thoughts of the downside first.

The darkness. The self-loathing. The pain. The loss of time. The weight loss. The income loss. The sloth state. Unrelatable relationships. The cost of antidepressants. The wrong antidepressants. Time spent cycling off and onto yet another nauseating antidepressant. Therapy. More relationships. Face plant. F-Bomb.

That’s the depressive’s gig. I wrote about it in Daddy plays. Mommy cries., so no need to retell the story.

Upshot time. Onto the positives. Maybe.

Since there’s no such thing as a ‘Depression Appreciation Day’ it’s a little tough to rethink sadness as a positive celebration — no one rejoices about being down, even if the party is only for a 24-hour period.

Depressives don’t hang out in joyous groups or dance in parades or wear special bracelets or sing anthems or dress in party attire or run for cures or colour worlds with rainbows and glitter. We should though, because rainbows are pretty and a cure would be fucking awesome.

Unlike many popular causes, the happy dance for a depressive tends to be more of a solitary movement — a quiet step out of the darkness to walk another few steps another day. Not committing suicide is our victory lap, and no one blasts a glitter bomb for that. Kinda dark, so here’s a Unicorn Chaser.

Sure, there’s the annual Bell Let’s Talk awareness campaign where a big for-profit corporation aims to “open the national conversation about mental illness to fight the stigma and the dramatic impact of mental health issues all across the country.” The initiative is lead by my sports hero Clara Hughes.

I applaud the media attention and money raised to fight the stigma of mental health. But here’s a bold idea — along with conversation, perhaps a good way to end the stigma of sadness (and other mental health issues) is to rethink calling it mental illness. I mean, what is mental illness anyways? When I needed knee surgery, got pneumonia, and was diagnosed with Celiac Disease no one said I suffered from physical illness. The doctors said my leg hurt because I needed knee surgery, I coughed because of pneumonia, and I couldn’t digest food because of Celiac Disease.

Saying “I suffered from physical illness” would have sounded weird (and kinda dramatic) especially if my ailment was a common cold. Yet, our phraseology around depression is a catch-all for a huge group of ailments. So ‘Let’s Talk’ about calling depression what it is — DEPRESSION. Done.

Also, the whole physical illness vs. mental illness divide seems a shallowing chasm thanks to this cool thing called science.

In The distinction between mental and physical illness (The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2001), Welsh psychiatrist Robert Evan Kendell discusses the origins of the divide while saying some powerfully smart things. I highly recommend reading this paper if you can manage through the medical terms and get to the plainer language bits.

Kendell on the divide:

“This has the unfortunate effect of helping to perpetuate two assumptions that have long since been abandoned by all thinking physicians, namely that mental disorders are disorders of the mind rather than the body, and that they are fundamentally different from other illnesses.

In reality, neither minds nor bodies develop illnesses. Only people (or, in a wider context, organisms) do so, and when they do both mind and body, psyche and soma, are usually involved.”

— R. E. KENDELL, The British Journal of Psychiatry, June 2001

Divides are one thing. Perception is another. I often struggle when well-meaning people tell me to “snap outta it” or to “look at the bright side”. A personal low was when an acquaintance told me she “didn’t have time to be depressed” — a sideways implication was I had a choice about being sick.

depression_snapoutofit

I wanted to yell, “Would you say that if I had cancer? Or a broken bone? Or heck, the Bubonic Plague?” Because honestly, no ones wants to be sick with anything, ever. Especially the Bubonic Plague. Sheesh.

Kendell on the perception:

“But there is no reason, justified either by logic or by medical understanding, why people suffering from, say, phobic anxiety or depression should be able to exert more control over their symptoms than those suffering from myxoedema or migraine.

There is a further and equally damaging assumption that the symptoms of mental disorders are in some sense less ‘real’ than those of physical disorders with a tangible local pathology.”

— R. E. KENDELL, The British Journal of Psychiatry, June 2001

I think this Web comic from Robot Hugs neatly illustrates the point. I laughed, probably because I’m bent. Kudos to RH for nailing it.

robothugs_helpfuladvice

Source: Robot Hugs by RH.

So where am I going with this?

I don’t know.

I must be really bad at doing homework ’cause I still haven’t completed my CBT assignment. Or have I?

“What are the positives that came from your depression?”

Many shrinks and psychs would probably ask patients to consider specific positives, such as the discovery of thoughts, triggers, situations, people, and behaviours that can lead one down the spiral of depression. Yes, I’ve learned these. I’ve had to stop doing some stuff, I’ve removed certain situations from my life, and I avoid extending myself to those who do not reach back.

Given the possible gut-brain connection and how mental health may depend on creatures in the gut, I’ve also become far more vigilant about tummy health and more mindful of my Celiac disease. Guess that divide between physical health and mental health isn’t so clear cut, eh?

But these are not my answers. Sorry, Dr. Niki.

Could anything good come out of depression?

Yes.

I am here.
I have a voice.
And I intend to use my voice, my life, and my platform to speak freely about the so-called taboos and social stigmas that plague us. Wealth, health, and self are intertwined and interconnected — so let’s stop pretending they are not.

So where else am I going with this?

You have a voice too. You also have a platform.

During my depression many of you reached out through emails, direct messages, and social comments. You also shared my writing with those close to you in need. You made all the difference. I have so much gratitude for your kindness and caring I cannot express my full thankfulness in words. You guys are the biggest positive and the grandest happy thought a sometimes quirky personal finance writer can hold. Hugs.

Love love love,
Kerry

31 Comments

  1. Jeffrey August 14, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    I have IBS and lactose intolerance and have slipped into depression. I’m doing the best I can but can’t get out this. Do you have any suggestions. Thank you. I am simply not the same person anymore.

  2. Ahmad Jamal August 14, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    Wow, your article really struck a nerve in me, maybe cause I’ve recently been thru all this and had no one to tell, but knowing someone else went thru the same motion really made me a little happy (no offense ^^”)
    It’s just that lately with this lack of motivation and failing exams just because I’m not even trying for, I failed 2 exams this semester, I might even have to repeat the year, everyone asks what’s wrong with you and I don’t know what to tell them m, I can’t possible say I don’t care , cause mentally I due understand the repercussions but I just can’t find the will to do it, and why can’t i just end it,when i think about myself 10 years from now, i cant see it.
    It’s only when I found myself cutting my arm, that I relized I really really really should do something about this.
    Fortunately now that am on antidepressants,I feel better, but I still can’take the ideas out of my mind, but I atleast am functioning .
    I really hope you get better too 🙂

  3. Ben August 14, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  4. Sheryl Smolkin August 14, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Hang in Kerry. We’re rooting for you. All of us have had similar experiences or have a friend or close family member who have been there. Your voice is important.

  5. Gerry August 14, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    And hugs back to you!

    Thank you for sharing your perspective so that we can better understand.

    I feel helpless . . . but are we helpless when it comes to helping one suffering from depression?

    Thoughts?

  6. Dianne August 14, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    Oh Kerry, have missed your wonderful and amusing posts,and your frugal way of looking at things. I also have celiac,and have encouraged others to find frugal ways of eating healthy with this. We can bake our own treats (King Arthur gluten free brownies,anyone?). Your description of meds is great ,and what most people do not realize is that if you question 100 people on the street ,you will find about 80 of them on some kind of meds to balance out their sads/bads,etc. I look forward to your voice again on your blog but don’t feel you have to be funny ,or fit a certain mold. You are great just how you are!! You have a lot to say,and we all enjoy listening.Talk about your life,and raising kids,and of course making ends meet and what’s for dinner! And
    By the way, you didn’t hit midlife,I think!! Being 63 myself,I think I am there LOL. Tell Dr. Niki to keep up the good work too. Love love love..

  7. C August 14, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    Kerry, Are there positives from your depression? Please know that the positive of your sharing this post may open many eyes to the reality of depression, both for those who suffer from it and for those who seek to understand them. This post has the ability to save families and relationships. Thank you for having the courage to share!

  8. William August 14, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Hi Kerry
    I always enjoy reading your thoughts on frugality, thrift and being a wise consumer. Your ideas are always helpful.

    Your article really struck a chord with me. Depression is no joke. Being a dumb American man (but I’m not so dumb to vote Republican. Go Hillary!), I usually don’t seek medical help unless something is really uncomfortable, or something is killing me (at least physical illness, anyway). I’ve struggled with some degree of depression, especially with my job.

    I work as a merchant mariner, which takes me away from home for months at a time. I work with all sorts of personalities, which range from sweetheart to sociopath. About a year ago, I was driven to tears after an argument with my boss. The work environment is loud, rusty, industrial, emotionally and mentally isolating. But sometimes we get a beautiful sunset with whales breaching. There is a high rate of depression and suicide among merchant mariners worldwide of all nationalities. It’s a real problem.

    When I’d grouse about my work circumstances with family, many times they’d just say “Just don’t let it get to ya.” or “at least you have a job.” Comments like that would piss me off, and the cartoon and memes that you posted pretty well sum up how I feel sometimes. No, you don’t just snap out of depression as the meme says. And when someone says something callous like “I don’t have time to be depressed”, well, that’s just callous. My family just doesn’t realize that sometimes I’ve casually entertained the thought of jumping overboard. One of my fellow union brothers actually did a couple of years ago. It is something that I won’t do, but the thought has occurred, nevertheless.

    One thing I sometimes do is read “Feeling Good The New Mood Therapy” by David Burns. I originally bought it about 12 years ago at the Goodwill for $.75. I have since bought the Kindle edition. I haven’t been good about doing the actual CBT exercises, but reading the book sometimes gives me a mental tune up that I need. I also have given up on being a perfectionist, which really helps my overall mental state. In fact, I sometimes tell people that “The day I gave up being a perfectionist is the day I became a happy man.” It isn’t entirely true, but it mostly is.

    My darkest depression is gone for now. I do what I can to take better care of my physical, mental and spiritual health. However, I do feel blue sometimes, and I know that unless I’m proactive, the dark depression could return. I think depression is something that takes time to heal, but I think it can be healed. I don’t think there is any one miracle answer. In fact, I like how you said that mental illness is called mental illness, but physical illness is identified by something specific. Mental illness is a complex, multifaceted thing, and it needs more attention paid to it. In Germany, mental stress caused by work is an actual condition that is recognized and treated by the government.

    I appreciate your posting about what you’re going through. It was therapeutic.

    You’re great. Keep up the good work. I’m rooting for ya!

  9. Rain August 15, 2016 at 1:08 am

    I don’t have anything really insightful to add and I too feel stumped by the question of what positives come from depression.

    For myself I feel awareness of myself, my boundaries and my triggers. I can sense when I am going into a “downward spiral” and I scrape the unnecessary tasks and unrealistic to-dos off my plate and allow myself the time to do nothing or only what is necessary to maintain survival. Overloading myself does nothing but push me into a rut.

  10. Irene August 15, 2016 at 2:37 am

    Quite a way back, when I was around 39-40-ish, I had a situational depression, and it taught me lots. It forced me to get in touch with my dark side (we all have one) and more thoroughly know my whole self. I then learned to recognize the whole, not selective good parts, and thereby learned to manage my dark side quite well. It was very healing to know and accept myself, warts and all, and see how I stood above my tormentors, nonetheless. Being able to manage and accept my shadow was enlightening and freeing. I became more whole and more functional and wiser too. I have been missing your posts, and didn’t know where you went. Welcome home…you are growing and like the pearl in the oyster, you are being formed to something pretty and strong, through rubbing against the grit!

  11. Anita August 15, 2016 at 3:09 am

    Kerry,

    Having struggled with the ups and downs of depression for about 30 years, I was dumbfounded by your psychiatrist’s question. However, I will attempt to give you a few (humorous) ideas for answers.

    1. You get LOTS of sleep. I mean you could literally win the Olympics for sleeping.

    2. It doesn’t matter how mean (or nice) someone is, it still invokes the need for a good cry which can be healthy, right?!!

    3. No one can tell you to have a good cry because it will make you feel better. In fact, everything makes you cry and doesn’t make you feel better.

    4. Everyone else’s drama no longer affects you. It just doesn’t matter.

    5. You TRULY appreciate the moments (however fleeting) of lightness or happiness that flit through your life.

    6. Your morning routine may become shorter because who cares if you wear make-up.

    7. Clothes shopping is MUCH quicker and easier. I mean don’t you just grab stuff that’s in your size without even trying it on?

    8. Maybe instead of being exhausted all the time, you have insomnia. In that case, IF you have the energy, you might actually be extremely productive.

    9. Grocery shopping can become easier too. Just head down the snack food aisle and dump it all in the cart.

    10. Who would’ve thought there could be SOOOO many positive things about depression? Not me! Thanks for making me think about it.

    Sorry for the extreme sarcasm. I find when my depression isn’t at its worst, my sense of humor returns and I can see more of the “lighter” side of life. I pray you continue to successfully overcome the struggle.

    BTW, I appreciate what you said about mental illness. If only we could train the media to differentiate so that the stigma wasn’t so blatant. For many of us, unless we told someone we had depression, they might never know. It’s like someone losing a limb except our loss isn’t visible. Keep talking, it’s necessary for change.

  12. Lori August 15, 2016 at 6:58 am

    What good comes out of depression? For me this is kind of an ironic question. Please stay with me here and don’t become offended by my seemingly lack of depression awareness.

    When a person is sad or depressed, think of it as a signal. Its a signal that something needs to change. When you find that your depressed it usually means that things aren’t working for you: a situation you are in or the way you look at things. Unfortunately, its at this time when action is needed that little action can be taken. Ironic.

    Often times people who are depressed are very good at negative self talk. When you begin to replace the negative self talk with positive thoughts things often turn around. It takes time but eventually it can, and does happen.

    Often times sadness can be turned around by finding the positive. Appreciating things. Don’t think unicorns here. Think just replacing appreciation with finding the things that don’t work for you all the time. Finding the positive everyday as often as possible. This is why I say it is ironic.

    Sometimes these negative, learned behaviors can be so indelibly etched into ones psyche that changing them can be monumental but for most people they can become aware of this negative self talk.

    I dont mean for my words to sound so simplistic that they are ridiculous but this does work for some people. This is not a blaming the victim kind of thing. Of course, there are exceptions here. I just offer up these words as fodder for your thought.

  13. Big Cajun Man (AW) August 15, 2016 at 7:06 am

    My dear, you have smashed the nail on the head, and I applaud your candor and your honesty. Growing up in the era, where you “walked it off” and didn’t burden folks. I have issues, but I can’t put them down to simply depression (I have had MANY serious concussions), but there are days where it is really hard to get out of bed, but you gotta gut it out, right?

    Keep telling it, “… like it is…”

  14. CrisP August 15, 2016 at 7:43 am

    Hi Kerry;
    So true that mental and physical health are intertwined. Celiac disease can result in malabsorption and B12 deficiency. B12 deficiency is very much a cause of depression, neuropathy, and even psychosis. It’s important to have a blood screening test with the risk factors of celiac and depression.

  15. Paul August 15, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Thank you for sharing this Kerry! Our stiff upper lip culture has done nothing to help people through their sufferings and trials.

    I won’t offer you a cliche, maybe a cake instead? Next time you’re in the area we should have cake. You have a wealth of knowledge and I have quite a few questions. I’m sure we could finish a cake or two.

  16. Ruth August 15, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Hi, Kerry,
    Today I received this post from you, and it was the first one in quite a long time. You had been in my thoughts, and I wondered what else you were up to if you weren’t writing the blog anymore. I wondered how you and your family were doing. With this post today I learned why you were MIA.

    My take on depression comes from my work as a mental health professional, and more importantly, I think, from my own experience with depression.

    What good comes from surviving a serious bout of depression? I’m not talking about feeling blue or down; I mean serious clinical depression of the incapacitating variety that you describe. For me, it broke the hold that self-loathing, instilled in me by my highly narcissistic mother with zero capacity to nurture a child, had had on me for my whole life. Depression “broke” me open, so that all my personal assumptions spilled out where I could actually see them and then begin to question them. You will be doing this,too, in your cognitive behavioral therapy. As I did my own work on my assumptions and beliefs, I began to see myself as my friends did, not as the fun house mirror distortion that my mother had trained me to see. As I did this, I chipped away at the self-loathing bit by bit. This did not happen overnight; it takes time, and you have to be patient with yourself. I could do that for people I loved, but I could not be patient and loving with myself. An important victory was when I lost the perfectionism that had hounded me all my life. I finally got very clear in my own mind about the fact that I do not have to be perfect before I can deem myself worthy of being loved. My mother had always been able to control me by instilling into me the idea that once I was perfect and did everything she wanted me to do 100% of the time, then, and only then, would I earn her love and receive it. And it logically followed that I had a lot of crap “love” relationships after receiving her toxic training. I unerringly gravitated towards men with her same m.o. My life was a painful hell. And finally the bottom fell out as my depression became huge and totally unmanageable.

    Depression finally schooled me in the art of self-acceptance and enabled me to see,for the first time in my life, that I was good enough to lose the creeps and make new connections with people who had the ability and willingness to love others. I no longer beat up on myself for any real or imaginary imperfections. And when I pick up the scent of a narcissist, I dump them fast. I know I deserve better, and that feels good. Now I treat myself like I always treated people I love, because now I am on my list of people I love. Finally. That’s a new thing. That’s a good thing.

    Take it one day at a time, baby girl. This, too, shall pass. It really does. Continue with your efforts to heal. There are more good days out there with your name on them. You deserve it. You are worth the effort.

  17. Denise August 15, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Hey Kerry,

    Missed your posts, but this one was certainly welcome and thought-provoking. Being the introspective type–and having about 40+ years of identifiable depression, I thought I’d jump in here with my two cents.

    I do not “suffer” from depression any longer; rather, I’ve developed a relationship with it. Suffer I did, indeed, in the first couple of decades. With my acceptance of “the other” inside me who takes my hand now and then and pulls me down into the blackest and stickiest of tar pits, I can honestly say that I don’t fear it the way I used to. I can’t take antidepressants, so I have had to work on re-wiring my own synapses, and it’s taken a lifetime.

    I’ve learned to say “not today” when the dark days come, and to be gentle but firm with myself. One of the first things most of us depressives do when the dragon shows up is isolate ourselves. Taking a single step is a Herculean effort. Before I started working from home, those days meant burying myself in my office, or staying quiet and directing my hand to some repetitive task.

    My beloved husband has learned to just hold me while I cry, and not try to jump in and “fix” me. I have learned to just ride the wave until it passes, and every time I live through it, it’s a positive, a victory. I no longer worry that I might take my life, or even think mostly in those terms, because I accept that this is an “illness” I live with just as surely as someone coping with alcoholism or diabetes. I stopped trying to figure out “where this came from”, and I accept responsibility for becoming who I want to be…on my own terms, at my own pace.

    The positive is that, despite all the physical and emotional costs of depression, I am forging (sometimes by fire!) a new and stronger me. I’m not saying that the way I live with depression is the way everyone should do it, but it more or less works for me, and the grip of it has loosened over the years. As with chronic physical pain (also an issue for me), my tolerance increases every day.

    Medication may work for some, but I have no memory of more than a year of my life because of it (I’m told I was almost hospitalized at one point during this time period). I need to look the full impact of my depression right in the face when it knocks on my door. I need to live one day at a time and not anticipate depression’s next arrival. I need to remember to be as kind to and firm with myself as I would be with my best friend, and to treat myself as well as I treat others is indeed another positive. I need to let my support system in when the darkness falls; just a buzz phrase or two on my part lets them know where I am without pushing them away or keeping them in the dark. They may need to do nothing at all, but I don’t have to keep it a secret. The ones who don’t want to know aren’t my friends.

    Another positive is that I can see it in others. Like military who instantly recognize each other (Semper Fi!), I can see depression like a halo around other people who live with it. It allows me an opportunity to step outside myself, beyond my limitations, and offer support to another. While I don’t advocate everyone experiencing depression just for this “gift”, it does help both parties know we’re really not alone.

    Keep your wonderful sense of humor, Kerry, and take it slow and easy with yourself. There’s no hurry, and be as good to yourself (or better) as you would be with someone else enduring the same affliction. You have accomplished so much, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Every day is a victory.

  18. Dave Rosenfeld August 15, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    Sorry, sounds like you hit a rough patch. I enjoy your work. Thought you might enjoy this article that my daughter wrote. Hang in there!
    Dave Rosenfeld

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/22/opinion/depressed-but-not-ashamed.html?_r=0

  19. Bev August 16, 2016 at 1:30 am

    So appreciate your humor, your insight, your strength and courage. My family has suffered from depression and suicide and I am grateful for your words to help me understand. Thank you.

  20. June August 16, 2016 at 2:43 am

    Thank you, Kerry, for your honest, sensitive and intelligent post. I, too have suffered from depression – for decades. I’m glad you have sought out a counsellor who sounds wonderful. I spent too many years fighting. “the black dogs of depression” thinking that “it was just me”! Job burnout forced me to see help, and finally, I got the counselling I needed to move out of my pool of despair. To answer your question- these are some of the positives of depression which I discovered:
    – It forced me to be honest with myself and actively seek help.
    – It led me to learn tools for coping with my life. I felt stronger and I felt hope for the first time in far too long.
    -I learned to lean on others and drop the facade of being “strong”. Being open about my needs caused me to feel less alone, as I gained a deeper understanding of the struggles of others. We all carry pain in some form.
    -I learned the healing benefit of practicing gratitude- even on the days where life sucked, there was always something to lift me up a little if I looked for it. (Well, usually!)

    I will,be thinking of you , Kerry, and will remembering you in my prayers. You are bright, beautiful and strong, and I admire your courage. I believe that you will find the answers you need for you “homework” soon. I hope the love in all the responses from your readers is an encouragement to you! XO

  21. tintin August 16, 2016 at 10:02 am

    I also suffer from depression. The following article has helped me immensely:

    http://www.artofmanliness.com/2015/03/31/managing-depression/

  22. Joan August 16, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    The positive I got out of depression is a partial understanding of it. I learned about the sinister nature of it, and the helplessness. I found the total lack of motivation, of just sitting and staring. I have an appreciation and better understanding of others who are there. I try to be kinder to myself when I go there.
    Like many others, I missed your posts, Kerry. Keep writing.
    Hm, I need to follow my own advice!

  23. Jill August 17, 2016 at 2:11 am

    I can think of several. You find out who the phony friends are because they leave. People stop asking how you are because they are afraid of being told. No longer have to worry about going to parties because nobody invites the unfun one. Either lose or gain weight. Don’t go out so save a lot of money. Dont go anywhere so don’t need new clothes. Telephone bill is down. Telemarketers stop calling. Scam artists add you to the dont call she wants to talk and make you want to hang yourself list. The boss avoids you. Religious people stop coming to your door. You are prepared with funeral details

  24. Linda August 21, 2016 at 2:01 am

    I think the good thing about depression is coming back. Takes time and for some meds. Takes understanding and patience – both from yourself and from others.

  25. abc August 21, 2016 at 9:40 am

    Compassion. Depression can give you compassion to others who are struggling. And this is a gift to them. xo

  26. sprocket August 21, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    Hi Kerry,

    It’s so great to hear you again! And believe it or not, you sound stronger. I remember responding to your “Mommy Cries” article because it touched me, and voila you’ve done it again.

    I’d really like to reframe depression by calling it what it feels like to me, because depression is a sunken area surrounded by flat, and that’s so inaccurate! It’s so much more: how about the submarine that won’t come to the surface while all the oxygen gets used up; the song that won’t get out of my head. It’s a way of being that’s stuck, a cycle that can’t seem to skip over to the next track on the CD. And sometimes that helps me – even a sarcastic joke makes it different for a split second. Doing repetitive things, or thinking repetitive thoughts, then changing them ever so slightly works sometimes – the key is to notice HOW they are different, and describe the change in words. It’s that describing step that makes the difference hold. Because that gives me a new thought to hold onto.

    I agree completely with you on how clueless some people are about its challenges. You can always tell fellow sufferers by the way they support you – simply because they do have a clue.
    ABC above has it right – a positive is compassion. Another is community – look at all the people reaching out to you with their hearts and voices. Honesty is a third – heaven knows it strips away the crap in yourself and in your life. Sandpaper of the soul. There’s gotta be a better way to polish onesself though.

    Keep strong Kerry – and thanks for being brave and speaking out. You are loved no matter where you’re at.

  27. Karen August 24, 2016 at 3:11 am

    I recently had a very young tenant commit suicide. Though I only saw him in passing in the building, I could feel his sadness. Everyday I think of his fresh young face and his sadness. I have had three members of my Grandmothers family kill themselves.(fathers mother). My Grandmother and two of her brothers. Please don’t make light of it. I have come to three personal observations. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It doesn’t stop the pain, it passes it on from one person to many. When you are down or facing an insurmountable problem give it three days- a solution will come to you through advice,thoughts or circumstance. No you will not snap out of it but you can slowly work out what to do. Give yourself time and remember that you are just as good as anyone else not better or worse. There was no answer to the cause of these suicides until 10 yrs ago when my father was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. I now watch my own children and grandchildren and worry when I see them feeling down. Today my grandson when confronted by what he saw as a huge problem said to me as may as well kill myself. I didnt get angry but said why do you say that. I expressed that there were many other solutions and told him that if he needed my help to come to me and I would do what I could. I told him that if the worst happened I will be there for him and that this problem when you look back in ten years will seem distant and small. Remember we are supposed to fail sometimes and supposed to feel sad because we can never feel happy if we don’t know what sadness is. Hang in there Kerry and remember you are showing great strength to your daughter because when she hits her teens she will face many problems and your example will show her the way. I can say now that I have passed through to menopause and no longer face monthly cycles and I am free of constant depression caused by hormone changes. The worst times were at the end of puberty and between my second and third child. ( thirties) Remember that movie “Parenthood” with Steve Martin and Mary Steemburgen. There was a scene in it with the granny and she compares life to a roller coaster.(problems and emotions) Boy did she have it right!

  28. Aadhaar September 25, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Hi Kerry,

    your post gives expressions and forms to many things, which are generally there in depressive haze.

    Thanks for recommending page “The distinction between mental and physical illness” by Robert Evan Kendell.

    Here I would like to quote the conclusive part as it goes..

    “Misunderstandings of this kind are important and frequent. They undermine the relationship between doctor and patient and often result in a refusal to consult a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist, or to countenance a potentially effective treatment. The answer to such problems lies in painstaking explanation and gentle persuasion, and in the longer run in better education of both the general public and doctors themselves, not in conniving with patients’ convictions that their symptoms are caused by ‘ real’ or ‘physical’ illnesses. It may be sensible sometimes to do this as a holding tactic in an individual patient. It is never appropriate in other contexts. Not only is the distinction between mental and physical illness ill-founded and incompatible with contemporary understanding of disease, it is also damaging to the long-term interests of patients themselves.”

    Thanks

  29. WebbRowan October 17, 2016 at 12:10 am

    So far I think the only good thing that could come out of depression would be to get out of it. It causes stress and bad decision-making so your life could only get worst with it. I simply do not understand why it could in any way be a positive thing, ever.

  30. Karen Sewell January 22, 2017 at 11:51 am

    I think the people who are asking how depression can be a good thing have not read the full article and the points you make. Whilst depression in itself is no laughing matter I think people who have experienced it and who have learnt to deal with it then go on to have a better life. Once you’ve dealt with such extreme mental issues, you feel that you can deal with anything. In my opinion it’s good to go through life having experienced the full range of emotions and have had enough lows to truly appreciate the highs.

  31. katje May 26, 2017 at 2:34 am

    Well. I might have topped the Hat Frick (yay learning new terms!) with an F that, or possibly even an F her or F you depending on how much I liked my shrink at the moment. (one of my shrinks kind of maybe probably sexually harassed me, so yeah)
    Depression – I honestly couldn’t come up with anything either. In fact, I have a not-so-secret loathing of the whole “cancer taught me to cherish life!” or “getting crippled was the best thing ever for me because it taught me how much my family loved me and helped me slow down my life which was previously going at warp speed” and hearing “this could be a blessing in disguise” might lead to violence.
    I think it might have made me a less bitchy judgey person though. Whenever someone doesn’t perform as they are expected to, I find that I’m more willing to anticipate that they have a reason rather than just being a flake and blowing it off. On the other hand, it’s a pretty unexciting consolation prize.

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