Monday, September 22, 2003


Did I ever mention how much I hate terms like 'depressive'? As in 'she's a depressive'? No? Well, consider yourselves told.

I have a disease called depression. But I am not that disease.

Let's imagine for a moment that I do accept the label of 'depressive'. There is something that acceptance which implies that I am my state of depression. The sentence 'I am a depressive' becomes as fundamental a statement about myself as 'I am a woman'. My depression becomes not a disease that I have or a state of mind, it becomes me.

I bought a book about depression yesterday with the intention of releasing it through BookCrossing. It was written by a doctor as a self-help book; something for people who are depressed to use as a guide when they are lost and in pain and unable to work out the first step to obtain help. Most of the information in it was well-written and would be helpful to the people it is trying to reach. But (and it's a big but!) there are 3 or 4 instances in the book where people describe themselves or others as 'depressives'.

Alison: My mother was a depressive. She was always, always in a bad mood. She was always snapping at us kids, always irritable... When I started developing symptoms... I finally understood what my mother had gone through, but at first I thought, 'Oh, no. I'm turning into that grouch.'

'Depressives' are grouchy, irritable and self-absorbed. They don't do anything to help themselves. They are miserable, and misery loves company. They are going to be depressed and miserable forever. They make the lives of those around them hell. 'Depressives' hang their head in shame, because they know that they have a character flaw. 'Depressives' use anti-depressants as 'crutches; if they really wanted to, they could pull their socks up, change their attitudes and get on with life. 'Depressives' are hopeless cases.

Depression is a difficult enough disease to cope with, without lumping all that shit on yourself. Why do it? Why allow yourself to be weighed down by labels?

I am not my depression. You are not your disease.

Depression is not a character flaw. Depression is bloody hard. Seeking help is not a weakness. Depression is not forever; it can be treated. Depression can be a hard slog. Living through depression takes endurance and strength.

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