Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


This post might seem to be a bit of a downer, but it's not exactly. I'm just working though a couple of thoughts.

What is depression?

I'm pretty sure there's no clear cut definition for it, just as there's no clear cut cure for it.

It's not something I've had a whole lot of trouble with, but like most people, I've had my ups and downs, and I suppose I've let some of my downs last a little longer than they should have.

But this is the thought I had about depression.

Sometimes, we feel the need to tell other people about our troubles. It's a natural thing. Some people go overboard, and we call them drama queens (or kings), but that's one extreme. And ostensibly, the goals of conversation have something to do with an expectation of what will happen to the self, the carthatic release of emotion, and what will happen to the other, the commiseration or the empathy. Or at least that's what the healthy cathartic release involves.

Before having serious conversations, the ones that start "Hey, can we talk for a minute?", most people run through what the conversations will be like. Something like this:

I'll talk to someone about my troubles, current fears, future fears, fears about life, fears about society, fear about fear, they'll listen to me. I might not expect empathy, but I expect them to listen, and furthermore, there's the underlying assumption that by exposing myself emotionally, the emotional relationship that already exists is made deeper.

The difference between being normal and being a drama queen is that normal people don't build relationships this way.

But with depression, none of it happens. One might want to talk, but there's a kind of insecurity about the response that one will get.

For someone who's depressed, I feel the fantasy of the conversation, or the expectation, runs something like this:

I might talk, and the other person might listen, but I'm not sure that anything will come of it. I might not feel better, our relationship might not be any deeper, so it will ultimately have been a wasted effort on both our parts. So why bother initiating the conversation in the first place.

Then the fantasy is stilted, and the conversation doesn't happen. Fantasies about commiseration and understanding turn to muddled thoughts that return to the problems.

There's something chaotic about it. A feeling of "so what?" or "and what then?" It's a feeling that returns to an insecurity about self-worth, because if the fears can't be dealt with or be made into something constructive, something to use connect to others with, then the conversation is useless, and by inference, so is the self. Of course, this turns on itself and leads to more insecurity.

Is this something that was covered in health class, and I just missed it? Or what?


Blogger Trevion said...

The best long commentary I ever read on depression is Sarah Kane's play 4.48 Psychosis. Of course, it's not exactly a clinical description and it's not a logical breakdown of anything and it doesn't really offer any answers...

But, it does offer a view inside at least one person's depression, in a very presentational, easy to associate with (if not understand) form. In that sense, I think it might be more useful than a clinical description because it comes closer to helping its readers understand the depressed person (instead of just the illness).

(If you want, I can lend it to you.)

1:43 AM  

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