Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Depression Rant

Am currently setting a real estate ad for a property in Euston Road. The heading is, "EUSTON - WE HAVE A PROBLEM." Where do they find these people?

I had stuff to write about but instead I'm going to have a rant because alas! workmates are playing a new game today. It is a variation on Who's Fattest? and it appears to be called More Depressed than You. What you do is talk about How I Was Quite Depressed Once, Really. But don't worry, too much, though. We're not talking actual depression; more the bored, self-involved, drinking-too-much kind of depression.

I mean, I hate to be a depression snob, but - wait, no I don't. I'm ANGRY about this and so I am going to go on about it because it's MY BLOG, even though people are going to get fucked off and leave nasty comments.

Here is my opinion: if you have not actually been depressed, don't say you have been depressed. It sounds like a pretty simple rule really but maybe not 'cause a lot of people seem to do it - and for other mental illnesses too ("You know, I really think I have mild bipolar" is an old standard, as is "I worry sometimes that I have BPD.") I mean, ok, it's easy to do because you can't actually see the disease ("You know, I really think I have mild leprosy" is a little harder to pull off) and because there's so much information around that it's easy to be a hypochondriac about it ("I have 4 of the 10 qualifiers for psychosis!") but PLEASE PEOPLE these are not illnesses you can bestow upon yourself because it lends your shitty mood a little more gravitas.

I think a good general qualifier is - and I write this in full expectation of angry comments - being able to identify what type of depression you had. If you asked someone who claimed to have cancer what type of cancer they had and they said, "Oh, you know, just general...cancer" then you probably wouldn't take them very seriously. You might even get a little irritated that they were obviously bullshitting about a medical condition that fucks up people's lives. I know that's an unfair comparison for several reasons (cancer is easier to diagnose, for a start, and has clearer 'types') but hopefully you see my point.

I want to be very clear that I am in no way shouting at people who have actually suffered from, or continue to suffer from, a mental illness.

The people I am shouting at are people who had a couple of shit weeks last June and now consider themselves fully qualified to opine loudly about depression, effects of, and depression, best treatment for; which is, in my opinion, presumptuous, arrogant and completely disrespectful to anyone who has been affected by mental illness. And that is the end of my rant.

P.S. If anyone wants to come to a brass band concert on Sunday I have one you can go to.


a cat of impossible colour said...

Hear, hear! I hate this too, It is patronising, and also gives people who don't know a lot about depression and other mental illnesses the wrong impression. They see these people who claim to be 'depressed', see how little it affects their lives and how quickly they 'recover', and they assume that all sufferers of depression - including the REAL ones - are like this. Which maintains the stigma and the attitude of 'just shake it off/cheer up/ pull yourself together.'

Darnielle said...

If you get nasty comments about this, it'll just be further proof of human stupidity.

I was clinically diagnosed with major depressive disorder at the age of four and suffered from it until the age of seventeen. Around the same time as I was cleared, "depression" started to become a trend. I tried to keep my depression to myself for the most part so it was really shocking to see people would go around telling others they had "depression".

I've actually asked a few people who have said that to me about what medications they've been on and how they like their psychologist/counsellor and they just give me blank stares as if to say 'I'm depressed, not mental!' or some people who make shit up. Like those who say they're on Prozac (because it seems like an obvious answer) when fluoxetine hasn't been available under that brand name for over a decade in New Zealand.

Anyway, I'm rambling now. In short, I agree!

Owen said...

you used 'opine'! <3

timmytip said...

I just wanna say 'Euston, we have a problem' is GREAT ... I'd sell my house thru that agent.

Andy said...

It's so depressing
Wait there is more
Free steak knives

whup... sorry wrong thread!

But blight on those that steal these terms of depression without any knowledge of how much real suffering a depressed (manic or otherwise) person would go through.

Often for us lucky ones, we determine what we are.. So lucky ones, be happy, celebrate not celibate & don't ever ever try to justify by telling others your suffering depression etc.

short version: I agree with you Aly!

IT IS ALLY said...

Andrea - You are so right. Am glad you got first comment on this.

Darnielle - Yes! the Prozac thing is annoying.

Owen - maybe tomorrow I'll use 'disparity'!

timmytip - it is kind of awesome.

Andy - "celebrate not celibate" - I like this.

sleep500 said...

We should just kill people with mental "illnesses". It'd save us heaps of money, for sure.

Rosie said...

I completely agree with you, Aly. The stigma associated with depression is crushing enough as it is. It makes it difficult and painfully embarrassing to deal with clinical depression when people assume you're just being self-indulgent.

"Bored, self-involved, drinking-too-much kind of depression" needs its own name. So I can say "sorry, but from what you've described you actually have *bullshitgetthefuckoveryourself*, not depression... I suppose it's an easy mistake to make when you're that self-involved."

Wow. Naughty words. Guess you struck a chord.

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right. It sucks that it has become almost a cool accessory to say that one is depressed. People who really are depressed don't think it's so cool.

Esmerelda said...

I agree; however, I do like to watch people play the "I'm More Depressed Than You" or the "My Life is So Much More Difficult than Yours" game. It fascinates me, the absolute egoism of certain folk.

a cat of impossible colour said...

I think 'parity' is more impressive than 'disparity.'

Ooh, use 'paucity!'

Megan said...

As someone whose partner spent 6 months of last year so crippled by depression she basically couldn't leave the house, I totally agree with you. The idea that depression is just 'feeling down' is insulting and misleading.
Having and living with someone who has depression is difficult, and it is made more so by the terrible mental health services in NZ.

Owen said...

I agree with Andrea: use 'paucity'!

Andy said...

My boss is a tool! I'm suffering "paucity"

mmm it has a ring to it.. but then.. I'm not sure I want to be saying I suffer 'smallness' or 'lack of offering' to people.

especially as I'm not suffering from first and a very eager beaver in the offering...

actually I'm not a beaver... But I am offering.


a cat of impossible colour said...

Giggity giggity

Riadan said...

I think I had an afternoon once when I didn't feel too happy.

IT IS ALLY said...

Zach - you offering to go first?

Rosie - naughty words are entirely justified!

Guerinche - exactly. People who are actually depressed are so rarely proud of it.

Esmerelda - it is amusing, but also ANNOYING. I prefer Who's Fattest. Have you heard Whose Children are Worse? That's another good one. So is My Medical Problems

Megan - exactly. 'insulting' is a good word for the whole thing, really.

Ri - Excellent, you are now qualified to talk FOREVER about how depressed you are.

Andy - Heh heh. Giggity.

Paucity people - I WILL. Eventually.