I have talked about this idea before, but I want to go into greater depth tonight.
It starts with a simple question for all my fellow depressives : if there was a pill that would cure you of your depression forever with absolutely no possibility of it coming back, would you take it?
Sounds like a simple question… if you are not a depressive yourself. Depression is a terrible illness. It can even be fatal. Who wouldn’t want to get rid of it forever?
But for people inside the world of depression, it is not that simple. (Nothing ever is. )
Depression, as horrible as it is, serves a function in the mind of the depressive. What we call depression is a product of the psyche trying to protect itself from trauma by numbing itself. Hence, the person is left feeling cold and tired and listless and like happiness is not even a possibility.
The numbness blocks the very inputs that would help cleanse and heal the trauma that is the real problem.
Over time, the depression develops a powerful secondary function : it provides the depressive with excuses.
Depressive wear excuses like armor. When something suggests action on their parts, no matter what it is, great anxiety is released by the depression in order to protect itself and its mission. Motion and activity awaken the sleeping giant of trauma and your depression’s whole mission is to keep it asleep so you can go on with life without having to deal with it.
Anyone who has tried to suggest positive possibilities to a depressive has learned this. They shoot those positive possibilities down rapidly and with great accuracy. What you see as ways out, their depression sees as a threat, and so they will reject your suggestions however they can before they can even rationally assess them.
Hence my question about the magic pill. How does the depressive mind react to the thought of what would be, in a sense, its own death? What would it do when faced with something it has no ability to reject, even by the flimsy standards of depression? Would rationality prevail, and the pill be taken? Or would the depression win, but at the cost of the truth being laid bare about how the depressive needs their depression?
In fact, let’s throw the question wide open. Imagine that absolutely every single one of your excuses for inaction has been cured. You are rich, thin, beautiful, intelligent, well connected, and guaranteed success at whatever you do, in addition to being cured forever of your depression with no chance of return.
What then? When you picture it in your mind, how do you feel? Do you feel joyful? Or terrified? Do you think it would change things for you, or would your life stay exactly the same? What is holding you back from achieving your dreams now?
Without your excuses… well, you’d have to actually do it, wouldn’t you? And that’s a good thing… right?
It is through this question… what would you do if you were out of excuses… that the true nature of depression is revealed. The doors could be flung wide open, and some part of you still wouldn’t want to go through them.
And that part of you might actually win. You would reject the open doors until they closed again, then bury the whole incident in your mind to keep it from threatening your depression any more.
And you would go right back not just to your depressive life, but to your insistence that your life is terrible, everything is hopeless, you will never be happy, and you could never escape your depression because X Y and Z are in the way.
Even if you have just learned that the exact opposite is true.
Myself, I think I am strong enough now that I would take the pill. I would, in fact, grab it and take it immediately so that my depressive mind doesn’t have a chance to stop me. I am ready to have this burden lifted from me forever, and damn the consequences. I want life.
But I also feel the terror I mentioned. When I imagine myself forever free of depression, I feel scared on that primal level that requires no focus and denies all rationality. The kind of fear that is stronger than thought.
And I have to ask myself, why? Why am I afraid of what should be my fondest wish coming true? Why does the idea of leaving depression with no chance of returning make me feel exposed, vulnerable, and alone? What vital function is it serving that I would lose if it was gone? What is this great evil it protects me from?
Why do I need to be depressed?
And how many of my fondest excuses, the things I use to maintain the status quo against all potential momentum, would wither and die if I fully face and embrace the fact that my depression persists because I still need it?
These are questions worth pondering. The fact that thinking about them makes me fearful and uncomfortable proves that. I am not the victim in this scenario, or if I am, I am also the victimizer. This system is set up for my own benefit, and I will only be free of depression when I find the trauma that impels it, and cure it.
This is my new mantra : I am not the victim.
And if any of you, the stalwart few, who read my words suffer from depression yourself, I implore you to think hard about these questions yourself, no matter how scared or uncomfortable they make you.
If you stay with these questions, they can be the foundation of your own magic pill.
Then it will be up to you to be honest enough with yourself to take it.
I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.