Thursday, April 8, 2010

So I dub thee unforgiven

Through middle school, high school, and some of college, I was depressed.  Clinically.  I was never diagnosed because I never went to a doctor about it, but looking back it's very clear that that's what was going on.  I was sad all the time.  I had little pity parties for myself.  I played The Unforgiven over and over until I wore out my tape.  I got a lot better in college, and then much better after I left college, got a full time job, got eight hours of sleep every night, ate right, and started exercising.  It was amazing.  I'd never felt that good before. 

I hadn't thought about all of this in a while, but last night a friend was telling me about how he'd seen a girl on the bus with cutting scars all down her arms.  He'd never seen anything like it before.  And as we got to talking about it, I realized he'd never been depressed before.  Not the way I had.  He talked about "feeling low" sometimes, particularly after a bad girl experience, but then he went on to say he was always able to drag himself out of it just by exercising a bit and telling himself over and over again that things weren't that bad, etc.  And I sat there and listened politely and restrained all my impulses to punch him in the teeth.

If you've ever been depressed, you know why.  This kind of holier-than-thou "I can do it, so why can't you" attitude assumed by someone who has no idea what real depression is like is ignorant, uninformed, unintentionally rude, and very frustrating to someone who has been there and done that.  Implicit in this refrain of "I could always get over it" is a judgment.  He may or may not have realized that he was passing judgment on everyone who can't drag themselves out of ongoing despair over which they have no control.  As much as I tried to explain that this is a chemical problem, and trying to outthink your own mind is a losing battle, he just didn't get it.  He couldn't.  And more than that, he didn't understand that he didn't understand. 

I've never been obese and I've never had an eating disorder, but it occurred to me last night that what I went through with depression could be quite similar to what an obese person goes through with food and trying to change their condition.  If that's true, then I start to understand how trying it must be to hear things like "Just eat less." from people who have never had an eating problem.  I'm not going to say that suddenly I understand obesity, but maybe now I'm a bit closer. 

1 comment:

  1. It's so true that many people think that obese people can just eat less and depressed people can just wake up out of it and pull themselves together. They also think that alcoholics/drug addicts can just stop using, just like that, with the snap of their fingers. It IS much harder than that, and often you can lose your way and let your depression/addictions get the best of you. Thank you for your honesty in this post!