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The Anatomy of Depression | lostconfessions's Blog


I have suffered from depression for most my adult life (though I had one of the happiest childhoods funnily enough).

It is such a strange affliction. People who dont suffer from it cant understand what it is like to have one's reality altered to the extent that one wants to die. People who do suffer from it cannot properly convey in words what it is like.

At least, I know that I cant.

But I learn all the time. And some of the greatest learning experiences I have is those little shafts of light that appear in the darkness, only to vanish again. But those little shafts of light stay long enough to help you see more of what is going on.

I am going to speak on a personal level now. Whether or not what I say applies to others, I can only guess. But I speak as a sufferer in my own horrible world.

There are three major components of depression that always seem to be present.

Those are irrational thinking, loneliness, and lack of hope.

Perhaps there are cross-overs between the three. But all other symptoms (like low self-esteem, sadness, despair, suicidal thoughts, negative thinking) all seem attributatble to one of these three components.

Irrational Thinking
In order to make sense of the world, we think. And by thinking about a particular situation, we make certain assumptions, we gather the evidence, we compare it to our assumptions, and we decide if we are right. If we think we are wrong, we adjust our assumptions in the light of the evidence. And when we think we are right, our view about a situation becomes more solid.

Our thoughts and our emotions are directly linked. For example, when we think we are loved by someone, we are happy. When we think we are not loved, we become sad. When we think we are good at something, we feel proud. When we think we have done something wrong, we become ashamed. And our emotions and behaviours are linked. When we are angry, we lash out. When we are happy, we relax.
 
Normal people tend to cope with this strategy fairly well. But people like myself tend to think irrationally.

We tend to make NEGATIVE assumptions about ourselves and the world, and we tend to concentrate ONLY on the evidence that backs up our assumptions. We ignore or disregard evidence that does not fit with our negative assumptions.

Furthermore, we apply our negative assumptions incorrectly. We over-generalise and catastrophise.

The best thing I can do is give an example.

One day, I dont receive any texts from my girlfriend. I catastrophise. I think "She doesnt love me the way she used to". I disregard the fact that she has texted me every day for a year. i disregard the fact that she said yesterday she was going to be busy. I focus on the fact that today, I didnt receive any texts. Then I am on high alert. I interpret every single missed text, love heart etc as further evidence that she is falling out of love with me.

Because of these thoughts, I become scared and angry. I lash out, I cause fights, I drink. And in a strange way, I fufil my own assumption. I become someone who is hard to love.

Loneliness
People like myself tend to build huge walls around ourselves. We tend to exist in complete isolation.  We tend to personalise everything to only apply to ourselves and this makes our thinking even more irrational.

To me, I am the only one whose heart is breaking today. My pain is worse than anyone else's. Actually, everyone else is happy. My troubles are bigger than anyone else's.

But the truth is that people are suffering pain everyday. There are thousands of people going through the same heartbreak that I am today. Some people are going through it worse than me.

But I live in my own little bubble. And in my bubble, everything is magnified and intensified. So, depressive and negative thoughts and emotions become so much more intense.

Yet, if I could burst my bubble, I would realise that I am NOT alone. Shit happens every single day to millions of people. This thought helps to de-personalise things. Not everything is about ME. This is not only happening ME. I am not alone in my suffering. Other people are suffering too. this is not God's way of trying to destroy me. Bad stuff happens us all.

Lack of Hope
This is probably one of the biggest reasons why people are depressed, and commit suicide. They lose hope that things will ever change. They give up on themselves, and others and life. And they need out.

i think i read about an experiment once. Rats were put in tanks of water. Some rats were rescused as soon as they began to swim. Some rats were rescued after a period of swimming. And some rats were let go to the point of drowning before they were rescued.

And a strange thing happened. All rats continued to swim after repeated exposure to the tank of water EXCEPT those which learned that no matter how long they swam for, they would almost drown. When those rats were put in the tank, they refused to swim. They just let themselves sink. They had given up to the point that they decided further attempts at swimming was pointless. The other rats learned, on the other hand, and by swimming and continuing to swim, eventually they would get out of the tank. They lived in hope.

People like myself feel little hope about things. In our altered reality, it seems that no matter what we do, no matter how we try, we cant seem to get out of the rut we have found ourselves in. We get tired trying. We feel drained. Our attempts to disentangle ourselves from our own mess get weaker and weaker. And the chances that we will get out of the rut drop and drop and drop. Eventually, we lose all hope. We give up on making anything of ourselves and our situation. We let take one last gasp of air and let ourselves sink.

Long post is long. But by trying to speak aloud, by trying to give voice to our thought processes, even in a blog, helps to make the fact that we ARE NOT thinking straight more real, and hopefully let us see that we can come to live with and understand ourselves.


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Previous Posts
The Slab, posted February 23rd, 2013
Troubles, posted February 23rd, 2013
Learning How to Say "No", posted January 10th, 2013
One Week In, posted January 8th, 2013
An Experiment in Change, posted January 3rd, 2013
Dealing With Break Up, posted January 2nd, 2013
Getting Rid of Stuff, posted December 30th, 2012
OMG, posted December 29th, 2012
The Cure for Depression, posted November 16th, 2012
The Anatomy of Depression, posted November 16th, 2012
What Does Unlucky Mean?, posted November 13th, 2012
Unlucky Stars, posted November 13th, 2012
Happy, posted October 23rd, 2012
2012 so far..., posted October 12th, 2012
Cost/Benefit..., posted October 12th, 2012
Realisation, posted October 10th, 2012
I wish I could stop thinking, posted September 28th, 2012
Emptiness, posted September 27th, 2012
Letting Go, posted September 24th, 2012
Positivity, posted September 19th, 2012
Change, posted September 18th, 2012
Chameleon, posted September 16th, 2012
Visualisation, posted September 15th, 2012
A Further Development, posted September 12th, 2012
The Simple Truth, posted September 11th, 2012
Why am I Hurting So Much?, posted September 11th, 2012
Fall Out, posted September 9th, 2012
Come Down, posted September 8th, 2012
/ragequit, posted September 8th, 2012
Insane in the Membrane, posted September 7th, 2012
Lost, posted September 6th, 2012

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