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Depression: a message the mind-body sends 02/06/2012

Posted by ALT in Recovery Story.
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In response to my critique of the newest edition of the biopsychiatric model of depression (as publicized by NPR), a commentor asked me…

“Do you have ideas about why certain people are prone to depression or any other mental condition?”

Yes, I do.  Here follows my honest, subjective, and throughly “inexpert” opinion:

DEPRESSION.  Have you ever experienced it? 

I’ve never had my experience of it validated by a diagnosing professional; nevertheless there have been somewhat lengthy periods of my life where I felt nothing but “corrosive apathy” for everyone and everything around me.   I was shocked… shocked and sickened and horrified… by the cult of death that is our society.  It was a black hole I fell into and had a lot of trouble digging myself out of again.  This mainly occurred when childhood, adolescence, and extended adolescence were over and it was time to face facts outside the bubble I had grown accustomed to.

Was there something wrong?  Yes, and no.  EVERYTHING was wrong… and so nothing was wrong.  If that makes sense.  I began to think that something was wrong with me specifically when I saw most everybody else was still carrying on and enjoying the very things that made me so sick, sick, sick.

But there was nothing “wrong” with me in the pathological sense.  Really, it’s just that my bubble popped and theirs’ were (and perhaps are) still intact. 

The point I’m trying to make is that we’re ALL “pre-disposed” to this kind of depression.  It’s sort of a natural reaction to the state of our society, as far as I’m concerned.  And to me, this “depression” is a MESSAGE.  Something needs to be addressed, and resolved, inside yourself, if you feel this way.  Depression is the furthest thing possible from a “biological” problem.  It is a SPIRITUAL problem.

Psychiatry actually does recognize this, or it once did – their recognition is buried in the language, the etymology.  So what does it say about the profession that they will now do anything to deny this idea? 

Dealing with depression as a biological pathology is extremely problematic to me because it is a way to avoid taking responsibility.  It’s a way of saying “Shut up, mind-body.  I don’t want to hear what you have to say.”   That kind of attitude is not sustainable, because in order for the mind-body to carry out its mission (homeostasis), it WILL be heard.  And if it has to SHOUT, then so be it.

Crisis is not a necessary part of change.  You can address issues before there is no other choice.  And then your response can be more measured, gradual, and successful.  In times of crisis you do whatever you have to do to survive, and you do it as quickly as possible.  This usually doesn’t turn out as well as it could if your intellect were more involved in the process.

This is why the quick fix of [insert chemical imbalance theory/chemical HERE] is so galvanizing: many who are grasping at it are doing so from an animal-in-crisis mentality.  And when the crisis moment has passed they are spellbound by the chemical, ushering in a whole new era of problems, crises, and equally unsuccessful quick fixes.

Perhaps you are thinking that I was “depressed” but not “clinically depressed.”  Meaning, I suppose, that my experience of depression was not as “bad” as “truly depressed” peoples’.  I don’t know.  I can’t get inside their heads.   I guess I “got better,” so at the very least we can agree that it was not chronic.  But it was also not medicated.  Are those two facts connected?  There is good reason to think they may be.

Regardless, the experience of “depression” (or whatever you want to call it) was, for me, an important part of growing up, finding a more wholesome and healthy path through life.  I received the message, and then I made some serious changes in the way I was doing things in response to the message.  

If I had instead suppressed the messages that my mind-body was sending me, I believe they would only have gotten stronger and louder, until I was forced to hear.  

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”  Very good advice, I think.  And there is so much to listen to.


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