Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Depression

Who can figure out how a normal person, for no apparent reason, can transform into someone who is one breath away from dramatically changing the lives of everyone around them. Like putting on a costume in the play of life, the character is transformed into a hopeless shell of a human being. It is enough to make Stanislavsky proud.

Depression is a form of selfishness. Am I saying that it isn't a medical problem (i.e. chemical imbalance)? No. For some, it very well may be. It is still selfishness, because by definition, a person dwelling in a state of depression is consumed with the self. It isn't a conscious choice of selfishness. Depression is so debilitating that it leaves one with the notion that he has little choice but to be immersed in the self for survival's sake.
The problem with depression is that it is a disease of the soul. The soul is the intellect + will + emotions of an individual. Depression attacks the soul and causes the person to dwell on the self. There is an old saying, “Misery loves company.” Depression flies in the face of that bromide. Rather, depression is a suspicious spouse, or a jealous best friend. There is no room for anyone else to suffer with it or any other problem, for that matter. No, one with depression can only consider his/her own hopeless state. No one else has the right to have it, lest some focus may be taken off the self.

I never grappled with depression until after I met my wife. That is not to say that my wife has caused my bouts or that my marriage is depressing me. None of that is the case. Despite my blog rants, I am pretty happy with my marriage. I don’t really blog about the good times so much. The troubled spots are easier to analyze and that is what I do, but I digress. Before the past couple of years, I never actually had to deal with depression. Sure, I had sad times. I was sad when appropriate, maybe even downright despondent, but there were always reasons. It was part of the natural cycle of being human in a fallen world. However, depression is another matter. Depression is its own entity.

Perhaps my small (and they are relatively small) stints of depression are a form of sympathy pains for my wife. She has struggled intensely with this unnatural despair. Maybe God would have me get some doses of it so I could understand and reach out to her instead of doing what my flesh craved at times which was announcing, “I can’t deal with this; maybe you aren’t ready to have this kind of relationship.”

Whatever the reason, these dates with melancholia are a reality for me now. However, no matter how it feels, complete hopelessness will never take hold. I have found the secret, and I thank God for that revelation.

38 comments:

kimber the wolfgrrrl said...

A dis-ease of the soul... very true, very true.

Anne said...

I'm glad you found what you needed, Jeff.

Epiphany11 said...

I, like you, have battled the blues periodically in my life. I'm not being dismissive by referring to my state of mind as "the blues", it's just that my mom suffered from Major Depression (the clinical term). She eventually committed suicide when I was 18. I can honestly say that, based on my experiences with her illness, no depth that I have ever made the acquaintance of even came close to hers. ...and I've been pretty scarily (for me) low on occasion.

You are absolutely right when you say that depression is a selfish illness. It's just that - and I am far from a clinician here - it seemed as though my mom reached a point where she herself was no longer home. A shell, like you said. Reason was a luxury her mind no longer afforded her.

I'd be willing to bet that the sufferers who choose to physically harm others in addition to themselves have a little bit more going on in the mental illness realm than just depression, but that's just a guess.

By the way, a very meaningful and insightful post. Thank you for putting it out there.

Sayre said...

I'm sorry that both you and your wife suffer bouts with this. It is no fun whatsoever. It also makes some things in a relationship so much more difficult. I'm glad you have found a way to cope and perhaps your wife will eventually be willing to take a cue from you as to how to deal with it herself...

Jeff said...

kimber: I don't know if the "experts" would agree with that definition, but as it turns out, there is not expertise in the area of depression anyway.

Anne: Thanks. Fortunately, my wife's experiences helped prepare me.

Epiphany: I guess you can call it the blues compared to your mom's and even my wife's depression. I am terribly sorry about what you and your family has gone through. There were times when I thought I would observe something similar. Only by the grace of God that I hadn't. Suicide is much more common than most people think.

Thanks for your kind words.

Sayre: To be fair, my bouts of it are very short-lived. My wife's is much more serious - although she has been a lot better over the past year or so. My coping mechanisms were already built-in when I started dealing with it. My dear wife had to start from scratch. Whether she takes cues from me, I don't know. With my wife, you just never know what she is thinking about depression and coping.

Maybe one day I will share my 2-step method of dealing with depression. Right now, I don't feel inclined to do so.

Stepping Over the Junk said...

I hear ya. REALLY. Well written, well said.

Jod{i} said...

Having grown up with a mother who was dx as clinically depressed and manged to function, I can understand this post. Everyone has those moments of blues or meloncholy...
I think it s a natural progression, and in my field, I have seen more than my share become stagnate in that state.
My view, is, many become stagnate die to lack of proper support systems(not understanding) and forgetting to look at all the positives that are right there. As they become muddled within the clutter...Sad moments, reflective moments take precedence, as that emotion is so strong, and yes it reaps the soul.
Most of my 'good' writing, are from those moments. I can only connect with that zone, during those moments.
Sure I have memory of the feeling but there is just something about being in it. SO yes it can be selfish. It is a whole learning curve and being able to take something with you on the "high" days, and embrace it.
I think as we age, it becomes more apparent...That those bluesy days come more frequently. Each with their own reasons. And its healthy just as any other emotion. Too much anger isnt good. Even too much Happy isnt good, just as with sorrow, sadness morose, whatever the adjective.
I like the process in which you wrote this...full of hope my friend...very much so.
Peace

chosha said...

That for me is the hard thing about depression, the unintentional selfishness. Because the people dealing with that selfishness are trying to be understanding, knowing it's not intentional (or even at times controllable) and yet they are still going through all the harsh consequences that selfishness visits on them. So hard.

kristarella said...

Good post. Sorry that you are experiencing these sorts of things. I don't claim "depression" for myself there are things associated with it that I just don't do, like stopping doing things I enjoy and being uncapable of being social. Since I've been married I too have been much more sad, at times, than I was before (except for my adolescent years-damn that teen angst), not at all because of my husband, perhaps because of the changes in lifestyle, trying to cope with working, uni, looking after hubby etc.

You remind me of two things: a quote - "Self pity is the cancer of the soul." ~John Dick-Smith
and a song by Richard Beeston called Black Dog, he's a Christian musician and I strongly recommend downloading some of his stuff on iTunes, particularly Black Dog, which was written for his wife's depression.

ed said...

I have a female friend, whom I've known for almost 2 years. She is the first friend I've met who suffers from clinical depression. I have tried to be as understanding as possible and patient with her. Researching her depression and making consistent effort to be there for her all the times she needed me. And I understand her depression results in her self-absorption, but sometimes I wish just for once, especially since we've known each other for so long and that she is fully aware, that she could be MY friend and BE THERE FOR ME. I asked her for one favor when I really needed her, and she could not pull through for me. The result is me suffering panic attacks now because of her closed-off/rarely-approachable/rarely-reliable nature. I was perfectly healthy until I had to learn to deal with her special condition. But now I know the right thing to do honestly, for my own health, for my own physical heart, is to no longer be her friend as it has already affected me in the worst way. I have tried to be strong for her, but my body is not that strong and I have to take care of myself first. Otherwise, I will pay the consequences direly.

Jeff said...

Ed: Thanks for stopping by and keeping this post relevant. Of course, you have to do what you have to do for your own survival. My advice, if you are set on ending the friendship, is to back out of the relationship without having the dramatic "I can no longer be your friend" speech. There is no sense in forcing your friend to take an emotional hit. It is better to ease out and just not be as available. If confronted, I would tell her mildly what you wrote here - that you just can't be that available anymore because it is too painful and has literally affected your health. Just remember, expecting someone with depression to be sensitive your needs is like expecting your dog to do your laundry. It is just over their heads.

I don't know how much of my blog you have read, but my marriage did not survive my wife's depression. We have been divorced for a year now.

Anonymous said...

Jeff,
I am so glad I found this blog / post. I have just recently realized the full extent of my sister's selfishness due to depression / mental illness. For years I have tried to deny that she is a "selfish person," and have tried to be patient with her selfish behaviors. But the true nature of her personality and world view just recently came to light- on Thanksgiving, no less. She has established a pattern on not only not being there for me in my times of greatest need, but rather feeling a need to attack me during those times, as I am not conforming to her exact idea of how I should act. I have just realized the depth of her problem (and that of our relationship) and have started searching for info on the internet. Yours was the first article I found to address this selfishness. It was very comforting to read your words and Ed's. Thank you.

Jeff said...

Anonymous: I am glad you found my blog, too. I am humbled by your kind words.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Luke said...

My partner of almost a year informed me of his (medicated) depression soon after we met. He's always had a selfish streak, but I am now unable to deal with it any longer. In the time I have known him I have been as tolerant as possible of the frequent mood swings and seemingly random occassions where something I say or do upsets him deeply. Sometimes, absolutely no reason is provided. I have regularly offered my sincere willingess to do more/less of anything he would like in order to make him happier.

Usually his method of dealing with a problem is to adopt the silent treatment. I'd enquire as to what is wrong and typically he will be "tired". Eventually I extract what's bothered him and learn that he's annoyed. More recently, I haven't even tried to debate the issue at hand other than to gently console him and re-affirm my feelings for him and eventually, with nothing actually being resolved (except sometimes for my saying sorry for I don't know what), normality returns. But I am always the one who has to extend the olive branch.

Typically, I am convicted without a trial. I don't think he is able to look past himself and his own "feelings" to even realise there is someone else in this relationship with feelings too. I feel completely unable to express any concerns or areas of improvement.

Never in the time that I have known him, has he ever said "sorry" nor has he ever enquired as to how he can improve himself for me (and I can assure you, I could give a list as long as my arm). He is highly averse to any form of examination of his own behaviour, let alone criticism. On rare occassions he'll confess to being hard work (in general).

I have been debating with myself as to whether to explain to him my list of reasons for ceasing the relationship or just saying something more general like I don't believe we are sufficiently compatible and to wish him well. At this stage we are hanging on by a thread and I am trying to make it last at least until we have completed a holiday we are about to take.

I suspect he will more annoyed that a relationship has failed rather than the loss of someone he may once have loved. That's the other big issue. While he (until more recently) would sometimes tell me he loved me, I don't believe he is capable of truly loving someone - perhaps as he doesn't love himself.

It's only very recently that the worst of his selfishness has hit me so hard and it's taken me this long to question whether the selfishness is part of his condition. To be honest, I always figured the depression was an issue with his mind, while the selfishness is more of an issue with his heart (or lack thereof). But from reading the other comments on this blog I suspect they are far more linked than I realised.

Thanks for listening - any questions or advice you may have is most welcomed.

As critical as I am of him above, I am equally concerned to look after his wellbeing as much as I do my own.

Jeff said...

Hi Luke,

Thanks for coming here and feeling comfortable enough to open up.

I have an opinion about your situation, but it is JUST AN OPINION based on what you have provided. Please don't take it as gospel.

That being stated, it seems that you are in a situation that will not get better unless your partner is willing to surrender to the fact that he has depression and ALSO surrender to whatever treatment a professional deems necessary. This is a tall order. I am not saying "be willing to", I am saying "surrender" to it. In my research, the effective treatment should be two-fold (prescription drug AND therapy).

The drug(s) can help current mood, but it does nothing to fix the damage that has been done BY the depression. The therapy addresses the actual damage.

I don't know if you have read any of my blog after this post, but my marriage didn't make it. My wife was unable to surrender. She tried, but couldn't follow through - thus, the lack of surrender.

It won't get better, Luke, without treatment. If your partner is unwilling to move in that direction, the relationship is going to end. At that point, he will KNOW why you are leaving - that he is unwilling to get the help that he needs so the relationship is destined to fail anyway. It is kind of a tough love thing, but I don't see an alternative that will make your story end happily.

Remember, this is just my opinion with limited understanding of your partner. Tread carefully!

Thanks again for stopping by!

Jeff

Anonymous said...

I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing

Anonymous said...

I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, selfish? You really ought to crack open a dictionary sometime...
Depression is a chemical imbalance while being selfish is a character flaw.

Jeff said...

Anonymous (the most recent one): Did you stop reading right after the selfishness line? I explained it. We even have a shared opinion about chemical imbalance. However, that doesn't change that the result of that imbalance is a selfishness that does damage to the person with depression as well as those around that person.

I did crack open a dictionary:

depression - 1 : concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself (Meriam-Webster)

Yeah, that is what I was talking about. Chemical imbalance or not, it is what it is and it still does damage. No amount of explanations or excuses will make that go away. Alcoholism is a disease, but a death due to drunk driving is not excused because of the "disease standing" of the perpetrator.

I understand that this post is raw for some and I sympathize. However, it is also very refreshing and healing for those standing in the wake of another's depression. The other commenters deem this to be true.

cj said...

I just want to say that I don't feel depression and selfishness are connected. Some people who are depressed may ALSO be selfish, I agree.

However, in my experience depression can be fueled by the selfishness of others around the depressed person. I've tried to be strong despite pain and weight on my chest. I love to love and go out of my way to be caring. The disgusting people of this world seem to take advantage of such people, bringing me to the edge of my rope. It is then that I admit, yes I become selfish. But selfish in the same way that one who is trying to help a depressed loved one leaves to take care of his/her own self. I mean if you can't handle another person's depression how do you expect the sufferer feels??

Anyway, the depressed person is not always the (only) selfish person.

Anonymous said...

I really liked and appreciated your writing Jeff, and your responses to the comments.

I can understand what cj says about how "a depressed person is not always the (only) selfish person". That is partly true, but only partly. The Dalai Lama says about selfishness that: we are all selfish, but there is what he calls 'wise selfishness' (when people care about themselves but also are available, listen to and care about others too), and then there is 'foolish selfishness' (when a person really cares only for themselves and no-one and nothing else; they are not truly available for others, can't really listen to them and won't do what others desperately need them to do, though they may engage in occasional acts of random goodwill to make themselves feel better). With seriously depressed people there seems to be mainly 'foolish selfishness': they become so wrapped up in their concerns to the exclusion of all else that they interpret everything and everyone negatively around them. This is sad and foolish, especially if they deny it and refuse to seek help, for example from medication and counsellors).

I have been living with a male partner who has been depressed for a long time - c.12 years. It has been really bad in the past 1-2 years. It is very wearying to continue to cope with this person's endless self-pity, huge expenditure on alcohol, failure to get a job and contribute to income, lack of meaningful external social engagement, sloppy standards of hygiene, constant negative belittling of others and occasional tactless attempts to boost his own ego in unhelpful ways. Time and time again, I have done what cj says about 'handling another person's depression' - carried on and on just doing so, working to earn a living and coping with the situation. But when everything seems so one way all the time I think Jeff you are right when you say 'chemical imbalance or not, it is what it is and it still does damage'.

I do think what you say about depression being selfish is true (whether we call that excessively self-centred or 'foolish selfishness'). And I do think that, no matter how much the weary partner/friend/others in a depressed person's life may try to help, understand, have compassion and support a depressed person, ultimately there comes a point where 'the healthy one' also has to consider their own health, well-being and sanity and withdraw to the extent necessary to heal and repair those. Depressed people are not the only ones who need support - carers of depressed people desperately need it too. It is like battery energy or something - the negativity of a depressed person can sometimes be such that they tend to drain your energy, so, to survive, you need to recharge.

I have found myself over the years having to become much more 'hardy', self-protective and measured about the support that I give so that natural forces of recovery have time to work. Naturally an optimistic person, I need to reconnect myself with the wider world and engage interactively with other people in healthy ways, so that the relationship with the depressed person does not drag me down too much. What is a terrible shame is that my partner does not realise he too could engage productively with life/jobs/others if he would only open his eyes and start to see the world fresh, new and bright, like it could be, instead of being locked up in this dark room of self-centred awful fear and pain. Since he has finally - after years of my asking and a recent showdown - agreed to go on medication (and hopefully CBT) after years of denying depression, I am hopeful there may be a breakthrough. Sadly he is blind to his self-centredness and can't see one way to healing is to help others.

But in the meantime I appreciated your post. It seems important that all parties in a 'depressed' situation need consideration, including both the depressed and also those in any relationship with them. It cannot just be one way all the time.

Jeff said...

CJ: I don't know how I missed your comment earlier. If you come back, accept my apology.

Although I do believe that the depressed person in relationships aren't necessarily the ONLY selfish person in the scenario, I disagree with your original statement that there is no connection between depression and selfishness. I think depression IS selfishness. I am just not quick to assign the villain tag to selfishness in this instance.

In order for anyone to overcome things that affect the mind, one must first see things for what they are and not justify or rationalize it. One can only effect the changes in his own life. I can control MY selfishness (to a point), but I cannot control someone else's. Therefore, that must be where my concentration is centered. If I were, as a depressed person, justify my selfishness on the actions of others, I will not move from my own selfishness - and therefore, my own depression.

Thanks for your comment. I welcome the discussion.

Jeff said...

Anonymous: I am glad that you can get something out of my post. It is amazing how many comments I get on this even though it is years old now.

The main thing I learned is that you can't have ANY expectations of a depressed person. In survival mode, they are what they are no more.

It isn't hopeless, but without a self-realization, there will be no improvement. It is like the alcoholism or anything else, depressed people must recognize they have a problem and want to do something about it.

Thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate these comments. While I read about depression, everything is focused on the depressed person, and very little attention is paid to the spouse or nearest relation trying to help the depressed person. I agree completely about the selfishness. Even my husband agrees; he often says he is sick of always thinking about himself. But, the fact is, he can't stop. I've tried to be supportive for ten years. He has ruined me, and I've been weak, I suppose, in not having stood firm earlier. I'm approaching bankruptcy as a result of trying to accommodate his every wish. I can't make him get a job, but I can't pay the bills. I have borrowed money from my parents and every bank (credit card) that will give it to me just trying to keep our life rolling smoothly. I work my ass off, to come home to his scowling face and to listen to him complain about all the issues that he has simmered over the whole day. Always relating to himself. Why have I done this??? Because we have a beautiful precious child. I want my child to have a good life. And we do have very wonderful family times together. He's not always nasty. And when he's not, I love him more than anything in the universe. But he is not just depressed, he is an angry depressed. And over the years I have developed an absolute fear of him - not that he would physically hurt me. But his shouting is so scary I do whatever I can to avoid provoking it. For myself and for our child. I know my child loves and looks up to their Daddy. I can't bear the thought of making my child a child of divorce. I'm scared to "Abandon" my poor, depressed, helpless and jobless husband. But I can't live like this anymore. We've tried a shrink - once. It went very poorly so now he is very unwilling to try it again. When I suggest trying therapy again he says I'm just trying to accelerate his demise.

So I have two questions: 1. What should I prepare myself for if I try the "get help now or I'm leaving" approach? 2. What can I do to help insulate my child from the pain? I've always tried to be happy, cheerful and loving but I'm worn to the bone. I'm nervous all the time. I go into bouts of crying - even around a coworker! I used to be a very strong person. Everyone I know tells me I'm as solid as a rock. But this situation has me crumbling.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeff said...

Anonymous (from Virginia): It amazes me how this post remains relevant and gets participation years after I wrote it. Thanks for stopping by.

To your questions - You understand that there really isn't enough information to make confident suggestions. However, I will give you some very loose advice.

In my research, it has become clear to me that "staying together for the kids" is a bad idea. Most of the time, it is worse on the kids to be trapped in an unhealthy atmosphere than it is to have two parents ever-present. However, staying together because BOTH are committed to improving the relationship benefits the kids greatly. It is a different attitude. In your situation, it seems that your husband is incapable to be able to work on anything.

Secondly, the number one concern that I learned from my best friend (who is also a counselor) is that you have to do anything that you can to maintain your own sanity. There is nothing worse for a kid than to have to live with two crazy people. That sounds flippant, but the point is made. It seems that it MIGHT be the situation for you to get out to maintain your own sanity. Only you know that for sure.

Getting out doesn't necessarily mean ending the relationship. It may be part of the process of staying in the relationship. It is evident that the status quo isn't going to work.

With that in mind, answering your first question would have this look: "We have to separate until the time that you are well enough to be able to have us around. When you get that process started is up to you." That takes the ultimatum out of it. Ultimatums are seldom the methodology that a depressed mind can embrace.

The second question takes care of itself if you follow what I wrote above. You insulate your child by removing the child from the situation. Children are very perceptive. You can act like everything is fine, but it is hard to fool a kid. They are pretty emotionally attached to their parents (particularly the mother). You would just have to explain to your child that things are going to change with the living arrangements for a while, but it is only to make things better in the long run.

I know the logistics of all this is very difficult. You will wonder how your husband is going to make it. Sometimes a person has to hit rock bottom before they make the decision to get the help they need. Where can you go? Where can he go? I know, there is no easy solution. However, if you think in the long run this is the right kind of idea, you can start heading in that direction.

Again, I really don't have enough information to 100% endorse my own advice. Only you know what can be done and all the other little details of your situation. I am just coming at it from a generalized perception. Just don't let yourself feel alone.

If you want a sounding board to talk about this further, let me know. I will give you my email address.

Anonymous said...

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This is a question for the webmaster/admin here at www.blogger.com.

Can I use part of the information from your blog post right above if I give a backlink back to your site?

Thanks,
Peter

Dylan M said...

As being someone that suffers from clinical depression on a regular basis, I would have to disagree with your “selfish” argument. It can also be a medical ailment that causes increased sadness, even when you have everything that you could want. This is the reason why a lot of rich people are depressed. That is not the case with me. I have social anxiety, so activity with new friends makes me nervous and causes panic attacks and depression when I am finished hanging out with them. Depression is the minds inability to produce enough serotonin or dopamine that basic and normal people have. There are times that I am completely satisfied and I don’t why I am so sad and why my mind is telling me that I am sad. Psychologically speaking, it’s my minds lack of serotonin that is causing this. The medication and therapy, while doesn’t work for everyone, works immensely for me. So unless you have been clinically depressed, I don’t think that you have the right to call people who are clinically depressed selfish. The pain they go through is not visible to the human eye.

Jeff said...

Hello Dylan,

Thanks for dropping by my blog. I understand your position. I think you are missing the point, though. If you look at my post, I did say almost right away, "Am I saying that it isn't a medical problem (i.e. chemical imbalance)? No."

We are arguing too different points. I am saying that depression is an example of selfishness. You are arguing that depression is a medical condition. However, those two arguments are not mutually exclusive. For one thing, I making BOTH those points in my post.

Let me give you an example. I submit to you that Typhoid Fever causes the victim to stink. It is a fact. Look it up. One couldn't accurately come back to me and say, "Hey, I have had Typhoid Fever. It is a horrible disease! Unless you have ever had it, you don't have the right to say it causes those with it to stink!"

I don't have to stink to know what stink is. AND, I don't have to have depression to understand how those that suffer with it behave. It is apparent to everyone around the person whether or not he or she stinks or is acting selfishly. Ironically, the stinkers and the selfish are usually the last to know.

Look, I understand that it is a sensitive subject. I appreciate what you go through. As a matter of fact, since my divorce, I have suffered depression periodically. Sometimes pretty severely. I guess something triggered it at that time. However, I have to remind myself about the selfish aspects of it lest I make innocent victims of it to my family and friends.

Thanks again for coming by. I hope it isn't the last time I see you.

Anonymous said...

So, when I try not to show any signs of my depression to my friends/family I'm selfish? I often cry for the feeling of hopelessness, but I am not thinking about myself. I, in fact, am not thinking of anything in particular. My mood swing and occasional irratibility, I always apologize for. Thankfully, most of my family has been or is in the same boat I am in and are very understanding. My mother almost committed suicide once, but I would not consider her a selfish person, even though her actions were. Only those who have had depression understand.

Jeff said...

Anonymous (directly above):

To answer your question, of course YOU aren't being selfish when you try not to let it affect other people. However, you do make my point for me. You have to make an effort to not affect others. That is because the natural state of depression is a toxic, soup of self-involvement that poisons the self and others around the depressed. If not, you wouldn't have to make the effort, or at least, you wouldn't feel the need to make the effort.

I am not calling anyone a selfish person, I am saying that depression CAUSES people into selfishness - even if only in thought.

I am going to post a new blog post about all this and will address all these concerns, so stay tuned to my blog - for those interested addressing these concerns.

Anonymous said...

I ust until very recently had a roommate/friend with severe clinical depression and I observed a deep selfishness in her as well. I supported her for 8 months, she didn't pay the rent utilities (couldn't as she didn't have any money and she's waiting for her social security benefits which is not sure if she will get), she didn't pull her weight in the householdn I had to walk on egg shells better not requesting from her to do the dishes and some cleaning from time to time, I got yelled at, she had a mean attiytude - I had to ask her to move out when it started affecting me and I felt afraid to come home and express my feelings. I listened to her every single day about her depression and pain, with empathy and support - when I had a severe vertigo attack with non stop vomiting and needed her to stay an extra day before moving out, she sai d"oh you just want me to take care of you!" and she left. So yes I do thi that depression is a selfish diseas eby nature and it is extremely hard on both the depressed and the people around the depressed person. However, using depression as an excuse for unacceptable behaviors such as yelling and dcreaming, being mean and attitudes of entitlement are not acceptable for me.

Anonymous said...

Luke, thank you for posting your comment. Oh wow, there I've been so angry at my former roommate/friend for not acknowledging her unacceptable behaviors and attitude of entitleent, when I told her how I felt about all what had happened wanting her to at least akcknowledge, she said colodly "you just want to fight, that's what you always do" - she has also said "my behavors and what you call an attitude that's my depression" she has also beat with her fits on the couch saying "its the DEPRESSION!" when I asked her to do the dishes a little bit more regularly and not to leave everything on me. When I finally told her that I should not have to pay for her depression and not have everything dumped on me and that it was not my problem, she shut the door in my face. She left last Tuesday, the friendship is over - one cannot have a friendship with a person who cannot relate. I am a psych student and am aware that it is a serious disease; I just do not believe in enabling.

Jeff said...

Anonymous:

I am sorry for your experience. The fact that this person is gone and you are still thinking about it so much is a testament on how powerful depression can be on anyone that is in contact with it.

Depression is like a drug. It distorts perception. When a person sees the world and relationships through the lens of depression, it is a different reality for them. However, it is also VERY real and accurate to them.

I agree with you. You can't allow someone to do damage to YOUR life because they have depression. It isn't a "get out of jail free" card. I have learned through my experiences with my ex that you must protect your own sanity. That is your first responsibility. I think you did that by asking your roommate to move.

The other side of the coin is that, in my opinion, you need to just let it go the best you can. Please do not expect your roommate to have a "come to Jesus" moment and apologize. Odds are that it will never happen. In your roommate's mind, reality is that she doesn't believe that she has any responsibility in it. Don't let your peace depend on it. If she does "come around" see it as a great surprise (and a miracle).

Every bad thing (e.g. experiences with depression) offer chances to learn and improve. You know what depression does. You will, undoubtedly, come across it again. Now you understand it a little better so allow that understanding to help you anticipate situations in order to prevent you from giving it power over your life and emotions. That is what I am trying to do in my own life.

Thanks for coming by. I hope you got something out of it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog. Realistic, bit of a wake-up call.
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

My husband suffers from depression and the Psychologist we paid a fortune too couldn't diagnose him. I do believe his behaviour is very narcissistic especially when he is more depressed than usual. I also think they can pull you down with them, because you give to them and there is no reciprocation and then you are left feeling used and unloved.
It is a difficult road to travel for both sides but the children should be protected as much as possible from this as they will eventually choose a partner who is very needy and history will repeat itself.
Great article and great to hear other people's experiences especially CJ's I really related to her story.