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What Depression is NOT

August 13, 2014

It’s on everyone’s mind right now (see the post below), a beloved entertainer takes the worst kind of final bow one can take… and just how can the darkness of depression take one so bright?  In the post below I spoke about what depression is.  Here I’d like to talk about what depression isn’t.

I am not a psychologist, but I am from Seattle, where gloom is rampant.  Let me speak candidly from the lens of my own experience.  I am a melancholy soul always cruising just a tick above zero emotion.  I can hit the extremes of elation and bummersville, but normally I’m pretty even.

A Facebook quiz scored me as “YES, you are depressed!”  I said, “no I’m not!”  Because I’m not.  Yes, I’m in a trough of life right now where I’m not excited about my job and do not feel like doing much of anything, fun, active or requiring motion.  I do lack energy and my weight fluctuates like a pendulum (up-swinging now, but soon to shrink again).

I confess to being a bit of an emotional parasite, largely dependent on my wife’s mood (down lately due to illness, but soon to be bouncy again after recovery).

But here’s why I’m not depressed: Tomorrow looks fantastic!

I’m definitely a here-and-now kind of guy, barely encumbered by the past, but when I look up and see the future, I smile.  My kids are becoming adults.  My oldest is in a relationship (!), my girls have bright goals.  Grandkids are within the next decade.  My cherished niece is looking at adopting (so proud of my sisters’ kids!).  A novel and a non-fiction book are going to be completed in the next year or two.  This trough is temporary, driven by some sad events and fatigue.  There is no hopelessness, no despair.  No urge to harm myself (overeating is NOT intentional self-harm, it’s merely trying to over-please taste buds and under-please my inner-thin).

How you see tomorrow and today determine if you’re clinically depressed.  Is today temporary, yielding to tomorrow’s promise?  Clinically depressed people say “no” (and it’s the deepest deception! Tomorrow always has hope).  People in the doldrums say “yes,” and they are right.

Further, I can point to the things that bring me down.  I know what they are because they are concrete things (in one case, literally, the pool drives me nuts). The truly depressed may be able to point at a few things, but the proportion and scale don’t match and most reasoning is vague.  They can get trapped in self-lies, like “I can’t live without so-and-so!” “I’ll never be loved!” “I’m doomed!” “No one would forgive me if they knew….”  In the sad case of bullied kids, the sketchy future is overwhelmed by the nature of today, or they just can’t see the future.

Being a little sad is OK.  I have found sunshine, community, healthy eating (taking that one on faith) and right relationships with God, wife, kids, family and friends to be helpful.  Some people throw exercise into that list and they’re welcome to.

I think this post is valuable because people like me, the melancholy babies, will be hearing, “are you okay?” a lot in the days to come from well-meaning people who probably should be asking such questions.  Don’t let such concern make you worried something IS wrong with you.  “Maybe I am depressed?”  It doesn’t hurt to talk with someone if you’re not sure, but don’t be afraid to be sad.  Sometimes it’s appropriate.

What do you think the future looks like?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Roxanne permalink
    August 14, 2014 5:28 am

    Two very excellent posts. Thank you.
    Are you okay??? =)

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