Sunday, December 9, 2007

Mood Watch - 43

Since my last “Mood Watch” I went through yet another depression. This one lasted about eight days. It’s hard to know exactly when these things begin, although they lift so abruptly that there’s usually no ambiguity about the terminus. As in most cases, it didn’t prevent me from doing everything I absolutely had to do, but it wiped me out in terms of getting anything else done.

I’ve been OK — in good spirits, actually — for about ten days now. But the depressive spells have been so frequent since mid-September that, although individually I can correlate them to a particular circumstance, in aggregate it now looks more like one long depression with brief reprieves, which certainly suggests a strong biochemical underpinning. However, that’s really just an educated guess. I suspect that would be the case even if a gaggle of psychiatrists observed me every minute. There’s just so much about mood disorders we still don’t know.

One thing we do know: you can’t “snap out of” or “power through” a depression. I don’t get that kind of thing as much as I used to — in fact, most of my close friends are very supportive — but occasionally it still happens. And when it does, for the most part it reflects not a concern for me but rather for the person offering the “advice.” They find it inconvenient to be around someone who is depressed, and the easiest solution is to talk and act as if it isn’t an illness but a character defect.

Ironically, the effect is generally the reverse of the one intended, since it simply increases the sense of shame and isolation felt by a person suffering from depression. Those who experience strong, consistent support generally recover more quickly.

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