If you have not discovered TED Talks on YouTube, you are missing some extremely valuable resources. With TED Talks, just about everything you have wondered about can be found and investigated. While looking today, I found an EXCELLENT video by Andrew Solomon on Depression, the Secret We Share. While watching this, my heart was tugged at — it so describes my feelings about life and the way I experience my own life.
Says Solomon, the opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality. What a remarkable statement! His remarks about this are so gripping and I can so relate. There are many times in my life when something takes place — something that normally makes people happy — but for me, like many of those with depression, they only mean that you are once again going to have to “do” something or “feel” something, and that thought is just so overwhelming. He speaks of coming home to see his message machine blinking with four messages and for most people the thought that four people had been thinking about them and were reaching out to them is a pleasant thought. But for him, it just meant that he was going to have to listen to those messages and then perhaps respond to them and that thought made him sad. He also talked about how most people, when hungry, can just go into the kitchen and make a sandwich, but because of his depression, he has to think about the fact that doing so would mean that he’d have to actually go through the many steps of making that sandwich — getting out a plate, getting the ingredients together, actually making the sandwich, then sitting down to eat it and swallow the ingredients — and to him, that was just too overwhelming. I can relate to that thought, also.
Andrew Solomon states that one of the important messages about depression is that we know it’s ridiculous to feel this way, even as it is taking place, but we find ourselves in its grip and we cannot figure out any way around it. Oh, how I relate to this thought. I tell my therapist every single time I see her that “in my head, I KNOW that my thoughts and guilt and feelings are not justified”, but I feel them anyway. And I don’t know how to NOT feel them.
His remarks about medication certainly made me stop and think. I grapple with the idea that I will be on medication for the rest of my life and I must admit, I’ve tried a few times to not take it. After a couple of days, I always realize that not taking it was not a good idea and I would start back. But, I’d always be disappointed in myself because there was such a need for me to take the meds. Solomon wondered if his taking medication was making him more fully “himself” or whether it was making him “someone else”. That’s something I wonder about. Who is the “real” Betty? It is the medicated Betty who can deal with the world or is it the Betty without medication who lives (and is many times satisfied to live) in the deep dark hole where she doesn’t have to feel or deal with others? Solomon wonders if he needs a chemical cure or a psychological cure from depression and I completely understand that question — is it my brain chemicals that are so out of whack or it is my heart’s feelings and emotions? He believes that we do not yet know about either enough to make that decision and I agree.
One of the more powerful ideas in Solomon’s TED Talk, is that depressed people reach the point that we no longer believe that our thoughts are lies; we begin to believe that those lying thoughts are the truth. We no longer believe that someone is wrong when they tell us that we don’t count; we begin to believe that we truly don’t count. We may not always believe that, but there are times when we are at our lowest points where I think it is just easier for us to believe that we don’t count. It can become quite exhausting to continuously fight those demons in our heads who are always talking to us. We try to fight them; we tell them they are wrong, but they just don’t give up. So, since they won’t give up, we do. We decide that they are right and believe them, just so we don’t have to fight with them any longer. I think that’s the point I have reached many times. I just get so darn tired of fighting those thoughts and I finally say to myself, “Just screw it. He was right. You are not lovable. You are not worthy.” And I quit fighting the thoughts. A person just cannot fight forever.
What I did find very interesting about the take medication/do not take medication question was his summary at the end. Solomon stated that he had found that with medication, it didn’t mean that he was no longer sad about things, but that he now could be sad about those things that warranted sadness. He said that he was no longer sad when he saw his message machine blinking, but he was able to be sad about the bigger things in life — damaged relationships, professional disappointments, and global problems. I think that is what I am looking for — the ability to be sad about the right things in life rather than being sad about “being”.
If you have a chance, please watch this video. I think it can open one’s eyes to depression in a way that has not been experienced before.
THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS: I am going to have to send this link to my therapist and have her watch this. I think I’d rather talk about these concepts next session instead of having to answer her “when are you going to…..?” session she has planned for me.
TODAY’S FEELING BAROMETER: Still experiencing these awful headaches and am trying a new med for it. I can’t really tell that it’s working, but maybe that’s because taking this med is making me super aware that I have the headache and am now expecting it to be gone. Sometimes you just can’t win for losing.