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This, though more an infographic than your usual comic layout, speaks so loudly to me. One of the biggest problems I had with my bad lows was the unfailing ignorance and mindless repetition of lines like this one. Because despite some people having good intentions behind these lines, depression deconstructs it into exactly these points and facts you’ve highlighted.
“A long-term mental anguish not a problem” I don’t really understand this. For when we sufferer maybe, but it still qualifies as “a problem”, how else would you say it otherwise?
I have/had my own really nasty depressed periods in my life, and while it did seemed to me as “a long time and something I may not get out of now forever”, I still identified it as a problem, because I know I would be happy if I get rid of it (not suicide in my case), find a solution, magic, something, etc. So I’m not sure what you mean by this last two exactly.
Calling it a “problem” trivializes the issue. You wouldn’t call cancer a “problem” when talking to a patient suffering from it.
a) That’s two different things. b) From a linguistic perspective there isn’t too much escalating words for the word “problem” in the English language. If I wanted to describe my depression as: “A great deal of problem/pain that means the world to me but the rest of the world doesn’t really care too much about it” there isn’t a word for it.
So I can either choose to paraphrase it like this every time or I can use – for the lack of a better word – “problem”. If we are on the topic, even the word “depression” is trivialized nowadays so there is that. That’s why I asked this genuine question, that what does it supposed to imply? Because the way I see it, there isn’t an alternative option here. What else should we use really? “Tragedy”? Issue”? “Trouble”? “Worry”? If “problem” is a problem (See? No better word) then these alternatives all sound even more ridiculous.
Unless we try inventing one.
You are looking too much into this. It’s considered very bad form to call something potentially lethal “a problem”. Call it what it is, a life-threatening illness. By calling it a problem you are suggesting that the sufferer is entirely at fault because they haven’t found a solution yet. By calling it an illness you are suggesting that they are not at fault and that they should seek medical treatment, which is a far better outcome than making them feel they are at fault for their own depression.
I should also add that I agree with Stefan… cancer and depression are two different medical conditions with different rates of morbidity but they are both medical conditions that are potentially deadly, and from that standpoint, not terribly different.
Okay, I see what you mean now, but I still disagree with the first part that the two shouldn’t be compared together. And I’m not even talking about the usual “One is physical…” thing, just seeing as how sensitive both topics are usually it’s just more trouble than it’s worth. The only common ground is that they both suck (to say the least) but they are in fact different, and let’s leave it at that.
You can leave it at that, I won’t. One of the major themes of this comic is that depression can be fatal. 15% of those diagnosed with clinical depression die by suicide ( http://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewpage&page_id=705d5df4-055b-f1ec-3f66462866fcb4e6 ). And you wouldn’t be saying the “one is physical” argument if you took a neuropsychology course (for the record, everything — our emotions, our memories, our personalities — have a physical reality … I mean, what else is there?). The comparison is that they are both illnesses that are potentially fatal. I don’t think anyone is saying which is worse, that’s not what this is about. It’s about acknowledging that depression is a potentially fatal illness and shouldn’t be dismissed. If you can’t get that, then this comic is not going to reach you.
George Dorn says
Why the hell would you blame someone who’s suffering to begin with? The person is at fault? Because they can’t figure out something by themselves? Because they’re “not supposed to” ask for help, unless what they’re dealing with is defined as an illness? Isn’t this the very same twisted logic that allows for depression to grow over the years without the sufferer realizing the pit he’s falling in? Just because you’re not risking of dying, it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve help, wtf.
I’d stick with “problem” and stop listening to anyone who blames or dismisses you for having a problem and asking for help, rather than using a different word and justify that line of thinking. I can’t accept other people defining how serious and painful my problems feel, I know how they feel because I’m living them, simple as that. If they don’t agree, it’s their problem.
Nobody said what you are accusing people of saying. Nobody said ” they’re “not supposed to” ask for help, unless what they’re dealing with is defined as an illness” even though you included a quote (that comes from nowhere). Nobody said that only people who have a risk of dying deserve help. If you want to contribute to a discussion, it is important that you read what they actually say and not twist it to suit your own needs. Thank you.
George Dorn says
I wasn’t referring to you or anyone here, but to the imaginary person who’d suggest that if someone has a problem then that someone is at fault. I really don’t see how that makes any sense, at fault for what?
Why change a word instead of just flat out not talking to the person who’d suggest such a stupid notion?
Suffering is suffering, and shouldn’t be dismissed whatever words we use to describe it. By instisting on defining your depression as an illness instead of a problem outside a medical context, you’re justifying them for thinking that way, since what other use is that distinction if not to specify that depression is not (as someone who dismisses it would say) “just” a problem? And if you specify that, you’re automatically admitting that there could be such a thing as “just” a problem, which is what doesn’t make sense to me at all. If you can dismiss it without feeling worse, it’s not really a problem is it?
You don’t need to use different words man, just to hang out with different people that don’t say this kind of things.
If you weren’t referring to anyone here, then why so much attitude on your previous post? And if you suggest directly talking to the person, then why aren’t you talking to this “imaginary person,” rather than venting your frustration on a third party?
Also, the author was not suggesting that anyone is/was at fault, but that calling it a “problem” insinuates that the depression is the depressed person’s fault, which it isn’t. So if it doesn’t make sense to you, then you’re right; it doesn’t make sense, because there is no fault to impose on someone.
I agree that suffering is suffering, and shouldn’t be dismissed, but aren’t you dismissing the depression by defining it outside of a medical context? In what instance would depression not be a medical issue? Shouldn’t the point be to make it a medical issue so that those who need it (but don’t know they need it) are aware that they need the help?
Sometimes you do need different words, man, because they carry weight that different people may understand.
A quick google search for synonyms reveals:
a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.
synonyms: difficulty, trouble, worry, complication, difficult situation; snag, hitch, drawback, stumbling block, obstacle, hurdle, hiccup, setback, catch; predicament, plight; misfortune, mishap, misadventure; dilemma, quandary;
informal: headache, nightmare
Depending on what level of depression you are at, you can choose from these alternatives, if you don’t want to use illness, etc.
I always felt that Cliché was poor logic anyways. a permanent solution to a problem (temporary or otherwise) sounds great.
Yeah, everytime I hear this, I feel like it’s actually pro-suicide.
Phillip L says
Although I can relate to most of your comics, this one in particular really hits home. I’ve been struggling with depression for about 13 years now, but for simplicity’s sake I’ve let most of my family believe I “got over it” about 6-10 months after it started.
What they don’t know, and wouldn’t understand, is that I didn’t “get over it”, and don’t know if I ever will, I just realized that I had to fight it, and I continue to have to fight it day after day… some days are easier than others, but then, that’s why I like this comic so much… just seeing how I feel so often being so accurately portrayed, it’s probably the clearest sign I could have that I’m not alone in this, and whenever I’m having a particularly bad day, these comics help.
Thank you for your exceptional work Clay,
Thank you for your kind words. Recovery is not something that puts you back in the normal state you were in before depression happened. It’s like trying to make a home in the rubble that depression left behind. I wish you luck with your recovery and you are not alone, there are many of us stumbling through the rubble and trying to survive.
Luckily I am too scared to even think about commiting suicide. What if it doesn’t work and the situation only gets worse? What if it hurts a lot or if I get scared? Who will take care of my dog? Things like that cross my mind. It has kept me alive untill now so that’s good.
But the rest really hits home. I struggle with depression for my entire adult life now. And possibly also my teens. I am 45 and the depressions just don’t end. They always come back. Sometimes I feel so hopeless.
I don’t want to ‘compare’ depression to any other illness. But I do feel people think there are ‘solutions’ where there really aren’t. Therapy here, medication there, etc. I can’t make it go awa; I can only try to live with it the best I can. The depression will always be back.
Thanks for making these comics.
Clay, you are an amazing person for writing these comics, i’ve only been able to read a few of them but I am going to be sure to read them whenever I start to feel depressed. I can very much relate to the messages being portrayed in all of these and they brought me to tears to know other people out there feel the same way and DO really understand what i’m going through. I don’t know what your opinion is of religion but God bless you and thank you for these.
Hey, I just found your comic. Thank you so much!
I’ve been depressed for 25 years. I’ve attempted suicide twice.
I have a good life full of people I love who love me back. I have joy in my life, and the bad times aren’t half as bad as they used to be, but it was really hard to get to this place. I’ve lost so much, so many friendships, so many career opportunities, so much life wasted laying in bed being numb.
Sometimes the best parts of my life are the most dangerous. I know I’ll get through the worst parts, I’ve done it many times now. But during the best parts of my life, sometimes it’s so tempting to end things before they get bad again. Sometimes when I’m happy and loved and productive and as close to whole as I get, the thought of slogging through the shit again is unbearable.
And there’s no one I can say that to. That I’m so happy I could die, want to die, before all the beauty in my life is stripped from me, even though it always comes back. That the people I love are my anchor to life, and most of the time I’m so grateful, but when things get bad, I hate them for it, because I get very very tired of being strong.
So thank you Clay, for saying it here. It helps to know I’m not alone.
This! This! This!
Alex Jace says
I wast trying to explain why I hate it when people say this and was trying to remember what this page said specifically because it is just the biggest and best banner for why this phrase should be stricken from the English language.
I’m 21 and I first experienced depression when I was ten. I’ve had ups and downs and at one point I pulled myself through, but hard times hit and I just fell back into more of the same patterns and currently I’m in the middle of a Major Depressive Episode. Some days I struggle to function at work and at home I sit on the computer and play games because it’s the only thing that I enjoy that doesn’t require too much energy. Some days I’m fine and I just get through the day and do things I like but then the episode kicks back into full swing and I feel like the girl from 148 just five pages forward. Going through the motions and making everybody else feel happy. Most of the times I find myself wishing someone would notice and help me. Other times I don’t want anyone else to notice my pain and just let me suffer in silence. Sometimes when people ask me I get defensive and feel like I’m being intruded upon and then they get pushed away. I keep trying to pull myself out but there’s that part of me that just says “Ride the wave, it’ll end eventually, maybe a few months.. or a year or two.. or never, whatever.”
I have a long history of self harm that started in high school and a history of suicide attempts, some of which I only just barely backed out of. Sometimes I question the point of it all but when I come around I fight with myself and just remind myself that even when it feels like the only way out of the pain is on the business end of a loaded gun there is a better way out. Most of the times the reason people don’t recover from depression is that usually the source of true, healthy escape is buried in the garbage we keep around. We either just wallow in it or we run away from it as much as we can but we never dig cause we don’t want to be any more immersed in it than we already are. It sucks and it’s horrible but often the best door is the one door we don’t want to open. The one we fear to open and walk through-that door that leads to the worst shit in your life.
I’ll tell you something though, if you can open it and walk on through and come out on the other side still standing, you can look back and say. “That was depression,” then look forward and say, “and this is the rest of my life ahead of me.” I used to know that at one point, now I just have to work up the nerve to do it again. I just wanted everyone who read this page to know that there is a safe option that doesn’t mean ending your life. It takes bravery like you can’t imagine, and nerves of steel. You will probably fail the first time, but each time you do it you’re just a little bit more hardened. Once you walk through that hall filled with all your worst failures, losses, embarrassments, and come out on the other side, you’re free. It doesn’t matter if you feel weak or if you’re crying. If you made it through and you’re still standing, you have taken a huge blow against depression and when depression starts reeling you have to keep hitting it. Go out with friends, do things you enjoy, rekindle a relationship or find one if you were single-and you love EVERY moment of it.
Stay strong everyone, the dawn of a better day is coming for each and every one of us, just have a little faith, and remember that as the comics say at the top you are NOT alone. There are others suffering like you, like me.
Keep holding on, you are all loved.
Tenebrae Cat says
I am suffering from depression, anxiety and of course very low self esteem for 5/6 years now which isn’t as long as the time a lot of others on here are fighting already, but it’s still intense. I had a therapist when dieting got out of control and I had to deal with anorexia. At some point my therapist said she doesn’t know what to do anymore so she suggested going to a neurology/psychiatry where then I was sent to by my mum. At this point my weight was so low, I was close to death they said. I stayed for one year, later gaining all the weight I had lost from the beginning because I was trying to search joy in food. I tried to eat everything I loved as a kid and even though it never brought the joy back, I continued. After this year I begged them to let me go because I wanted to finish school and missed my freedom. Since I wasn’t underweight anymore, they let me go, though having some worries.
At the moment I talk to a therapist again and she said to try and concentrate on the positive things in the present because our mind notices the bad things by itself. And I am, I am really trying. I have been even before she said that. Most of the things therapists say I know already. But no matter how much I keep on trying to see the good things and find joy in something, it just won’t work. Besides everything only seems to be a bother. I can’t truly enjoy anything anymore, everything is so stressful. I also don’t really know what my true personality is and my opinions are. I don’t really know who I really am.I just feel like a walking failure, only somehow existing. Not leading an actual life. If I am not able to do something perfectly, I feel like I am the biggest loser ever. And of course I am never able to do something perfectly. I am thinking too much every single second and can’t distract myself, can’t turn my thoughts. What will become of my future is unclear too. Maybe I will end up with a job I don’t like but have to do, and become even more depressed. I daydream way too much, escape into my fantasy a lot, where things go as I want them. But it is only even more sad when I return to reality, knowing it could never ever be this way.
It has been like this for five years now, constantly, not just phases. Everyday, every second.
I am embarrassed to write this and to ask this question now, but do you think I have a chance to get better? I just don’t know where to start/keep on working on. There is so much at once, I don’t know how to handle all this.
Sorry for the bad englush, my first language is German.
I’m no doctor, but I’d like to believe that everyone has the chance to have more better days, even if the way to that is elusive. Even if there is a tiny fragment of hope, it’s something you need to hang onto, it will save your life.
Your English is good.
I recognize these feelings. For so long I felt them too. Life was pointless and the days melted into each other. Years without any real connection to anything drained my hope.
For me what helps is doing small things for other people. Little kindnesses like letting someone merge in front of me in traffic, having a conversation with an elderly person while waiting in line, picking a turtle up out of the road and taking it to a pond, picking up trash around a bench, things like that.
I don’t talk about them to anyone else. I just leave my house everyday and do at least one small kindness.
When I started doing it, it brought me no joy or satisfaction. But after a while it became meaningful.
I stopped feeling like a drain on the world, like I was taking up resources I didn’t deserve. Everyday someone’s life is a little better because I exist. It is enough.
Also I keep an online journal. Instead of letting the daydreams take over my head, I write them down. What ever I am thinking in the moment. I tell stories of what my life might be, what other people’s lives might be. Happy stories, sad stories, all the possibilities that whirl around my head. I get them out in front of me, and they are not so scary and overwhelming.
Something that helps me a lot is to make a list everyday of three small things I’m going to do that day. As long as I do my three things, I’m not allowed to tell myself I’m a bad person.
Some days my list is: 1) shower 2) get dressed 3) eat. When things are bad my list is basic.
When I have more energy I put bigger things on my list like 1) Make dentist appointment 2) Go grocery shopping 3) Make chicken soup
The point is everyday to think about what I can reasonably expect from myself, and work with that.
It took time, but I was able to become reliable enough to hold a responsible job, be a loving partner, and take care of my children. I still have bad days, but they are less bad than they used to be, and the good days happen more often.
I am thinking of you.
Chris Maser says
http://t.co/mYtVbmtdzl THIS THIS fucking THIS
“Suicide is a permanent solution, to a temporary problem”: http://t.co/M5ZLFL9oKY
great comic about the quote/saying “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” 143 http://t.co/B6a1ylCQ3X via @depressioncomix
Looks like I’m in the minority here, but I’m (apparently) one of the few that appreciates this cliche. Of course, that also may be because it’s something I say to myself, rather than someone else saying it to me… that might make a difference. But, for me, it does help to put things into a long term perspective. I’ve also come to learn that when I do have suicidal thoughts, that comes from a “depression-addled” mind, and I know I need to hang in there long enough to have a clearer mind that has my best interests at heart, rather than the depression-addled one. Same thing with when I want to quit my job… I know that’s the unmanaged depression/ADD talking, and I need to NOT make any life decisions at that time. I’ve already lost so much to this illness; I don’t want to lose anything more.
As a side note to Clay, if it’s an option, is there a way to expand the margin on the right side of the screen for the comments? Or to have the replies to replies start more to the left? When the comments get to one or two letters per line, they’re near impossible to read. Regardless, thank you for producing these comics… so many have resonated true for me!!
Hi Michelle, this is really a fault of the theme. When I get back to Japan this week, I want to change the page layout a little bit to utilize more page space and make the comments more readable and easier to use.
I want to shove this, as well as previous 142 comics, into the faces of people I know and love so they would get a clue. But somehow, I know that they would be even mroe clueless and give me all the wrong advice or outright scorn… so I don’t.