Depression: The good, bad and the ugly
I’d like to share with you some thoughts about depression most of which I think are good points. I have already related to you how I felt but I thought views from a couple of friends might add some more flavour to a mental illness hopefully few of us will experience whether caused by largecorp or not.
You must be kidding me about there being something good with depression! I spoke with my friends W and Kennedy Jones both of whom have gone through bouts of depression.
On the good side they had some interesting responses;
- With the help of a good psychiatrist or psychotherapist you should be able to pinpoint the events that led to your depression. Knowing the “triggers” you can learn to avoid them or manage them. In other words, you have learnt something about your mental make up and discovered a part of yourself.
- Depression is a mental illness. You should be better able to appreciate good mental health when it arrives.
- It makes you more empathetic to those suffering from mental illness.
- You find out who your friends really are. Who keeps in touch and who treats you like a leper?
- It may be a protective device or a warning sign of poor mental health before it escalates to more severe levels.
- You may be better equipped to evaluate the medical care you received before the depression and make appropriate changes to that medical care. Did your non-psychiatric physicians pick up on any clues about your impending depression? Did they tell you medications you were prescribed or conditions you were suffering from that could contribute to anxiety and depression? Only one of many did for me. Good health is not only about your body but your mind
- In addition to your direct psychiatric care you may have been exposed to mindfulness sessions that have assisted in transforming your mental outlook so that you respond to situations instead of reacting in an unthinking and harmful way to them.
- You begin to realize that good mental health and physical health are interconnected.
- You realize that suffering may in the end may have made you a stronger and better person.
- You realize the benefits of an employer sponsored disability plans.
On the bad side of things, they said:
- You had a tough time going through this depression. It is not a pleasant experience which is anywhere on the spectrum of disconnectedness to anguish. In short you may be smothered in negative emotions or as W said it was like that Blind Faith song “I’m Lost and I Can’t Find My Way Home”.
- In many respects you realize how poorly equipped the Canadian medical system is in terms of wait times and access for psychiatric and neurological care.
- Your social network may abandon you.
- You may have unpleasant side effects from anti-depressants including cessation issues.
- While your social network may not have abandoned you, you may not feel like connecting with them anyway.
- If you had no employer sponsored disability plan you may be hard pressed financially. The Canada Pension Plan long term disability benefit is not exactly the most generous. Jones said it paid about 1/7th of his monthly salary.
On the ugly side of things, they said;
- Getting off anti-depressants may be more than unpleasant. It may be horrific including terrible “brain zaps”.
- You feel you have been cured and then spiral downwards again. That spiral may lead to a deeper depression.
- Matters may be so discouraging there are thoughts of suicide to end it all. Ironically anti-depressants may have the tendency to increase the likelihood of suicide. Of course, suicide is the effortless way out.
- Anti-depressants may have more than unpleasant side effects. They can be debilitating.
- You may be treated like a cog in the wheel with an unempathetic psychiatric support team where pills are the answer as opposed to mindfulness based cognitive training, psychotherapy light therapy, cognitive therapy or compassion cultivation training.
In other words what my friends are saying depression is not a pleasant experience. In the best case it makes you a better and more compassionate person. In the worst case it drags on and off for extended periods of time and in the worst cases leads to “termination with great prejudice”.