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Tomasz Gwóźdź says
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA says
Nah. Nope. If I lost my depression, I’d be ME. You know, the “me” that enjoys life, sees in color instead of black-and-white, has a vibrant social life, a fulfilling job, a family…THAT’S who I’d be without depression.
I can see that this character might have bought into the Goth thing as a way of trying to channel her darkness. Is that what you’re getting at here, Clay?
Actually the Goth thing goes way back — she was a character in a different comic I did in 2003 and got imported. Her depression is part of her identity, and partly why she gets so defensive when other people have depression. I went through a period myself like this where I thought my depression gave me inspiration and my negativity gave me a defense. I was very wrong — and I thought that recovery may make me one of the people I was sneering at for their optimism at the time. Depression can mess with your personality, and I’m certainly glad I don’t think like that anymore.
Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA says
Kind of puts me in mind of this…
I relate to this in a different way, I guess, but I guess it might also depend on when your depression manifested.
I’ve had since I was so young that I’m afraid that if my depression were to just magically go away, I wouldn’t be myself any more, or that I’d turn into a person I hate.
I think it’s similar to the feelings that antidepressants will make you a different person in that depression and depressive thoughts have so utterly shaped who you are and how you think of yourself that you don’t really know what you’d be without it.
Paul Joiner says
Wow. I’ve never thought of that. But, yes, it’s so much a part of my identity I wouldn’t know who I am without it.
Cory Johnson says
Which is why I’m afraid to go to the doc and be put on antidepressants.. would I even be the real me anymore?
Jeffery Witman says
Turn it around and ask, are you the real you right now?
Darth Ruthie says
That’s not always a fair question. Some people suffering from depression have dealt with it for so long they have never known themselves any other way.
A personal anecdote – I’ve been informed by various [more than 2 or 3] professionals that I “likely” to “almost certainly” had depression [chemical imbalances and whatever else] when I was in my mid teens. How would I even know the real me? I, and everyone else, have never met them.
It’s a really tough dilemma, and not easily solved by hypotheticals, because identity is complicated.
Sorry, I’m not trying to downplay your thought, it’s a really important one. It speaks of a mindset of trying and hope. Something not always easy, but something worth considering.
Everything you do or that happens to you changes who you are in some way. The antidepressant I took alleviated the worst symptoms of the depression, and helped me analyze the negative and irrational thoughts and feelings that caused them. I found I had more energy, I could think more clearly, and I started to feel a sense of accomplishment when I did things. After about a year I had recovered enough that I didn’t need the antidepressant anymore.
Given the choice between depressed me and not-depressed me, I would choose the latter in a heartbeat.
“You are who you choose to be. You choose. Choose!” — from The Iron Giant
Ardent Slacker says
I am more than my depression. I am a LOT of things. I read a ton, I snark a bunch, I fight the darkness with jokes and friends and I work really really hard on my safety nets because I spent a long time with a shitty one and it broke and I about died.
If the depression is winning and it’s going to make me not-me, win.
If I am on top, it is a small change that makes it more likely for me to not-die. win.
I have tried a LOT of different antidepressants, because finding the right one is a bitch. Some made me worse. Some made me sleep a lot. Some made my brain hurt. The one I am sticking to makes it so I can reliably do one thing each day. Rather than “maybe I’ll get something done… if I’m lucky.” I still have depression. I still have bad times. They’re just not three weeks long and I come around like “what the hell happened to the last month? When did I do laundry?”
I’ve been on so many of these, and they’ve done so many weird things to me… and at no point can I honestly say I haven’t been ME.
I think when people talk about the drug effects, they’re talking about ONE med. One older med, commonly prescribed, that more recent trials indicate may not be better than a placebo. It didn’t do me good. None of the others have been that bad, and that includes the one giving me nerve pain so I moved like I was 90… every sharp movement was like banging your funny bone. Even that one was an improvement over the first one. Yes, it sucked, for a week. And then I was switching to another. I’ve had colds that took me out for longer.
If I had to compare being drunk to antidepressants, I’d say it’s *way* closer to 1 drink than, yanno, anything personality-wrecking. Like, no hangover. Can’t be sure it’s doing much, but it so totally is, and if you had more it would be bad. That’s what you want. Where you’re still you, it just sucks less, yanno? It’s possible. It ain’t fun getting there, but holy shit, it ain’t fun not trying. And… well… I always figured if absolutely nothing worked, I could just go back to giving up, yanno? Guilt-free. ^^;
Dana Seilhan says
I don’t think of it as part of my identity, and by the way I think the way people form identities now is really, really weird. Be that as it may. The reason I don’t like antidepressants is because they kill parts of me that I actually like. I found I went from being depressed/anxious (helluva rollercoaster) to being flat. I wanted to feel things, you know? Lost my libido too, mostly. Also not what I wanted to happen. And the meds didn’t stop me from seriously considering suicide at one point. But my problem there was largely situational. And yeah, you could say “Well, try different meds” to which I’d reply “no thanks, I don’t care to go through this song and dance every single time.” And what if the meds actually injured me. I’ve seen it happen to others.
Darth Ruthie says
Unfortunately, medication is often a lot of trial and error because everyone is different and everyone’s brain is complicated. If there’s a good possibility that the right medication can be found for you, you should persevere. Depression often makes it hard for you to do that, but if it’s possible the good outweighs the bad.
The antidepressant I took had the opposite effect. Without it I either felt intense negative emotions or no emotions whatsoever. With it I had a safety net that prevented the worst excesses of emotion, so I was able to start feeling positive emotions again.
Ardent Slacker says
Had that kind of reaction to one of the meds I tried. Spent a couple years on the trial & error shit to get one with more effect than side effect. Getting the right one is a BIG difference. Someday, they’ll make a better test for this, but for now, it’s a struggle. But, fek, I was already going through some long periods of “ugh” and wanting to die, so it wasn’t really *worse* trying to get to the right stuff.
Is it bad that I can relate to this? I feel like if I’m not depressed anymore I’ll be losing a part of who I am even though I’ve only been like this for a year or two. It’s kind of scary
You remind me of one of Clay’s comics in which a depressed man is holding up a poster with a smiling photo of himself. The poster says, “LOST: Have you seen this person?” and describes what he was like before his depression.
Ardent Slacker says
You are more than your condition. You are more than one hobby. More than one relationship. More than you can know. (Especially when derp-pression is in full-swing.) If it were, somehow, the most significant aspect of your personality, and it changed… good. You get to grow and develop like a real person does. 😀 You get to find out who you can be. It’s scary, but, fek, people do change a little bit over time. There’s two things that seem to lead to dramatic shifts. Trauma and learning. And they’re still only in specific areas of a person’s life. I’ve seen people determine they were wrong about a thing, and re-evaluate their life and make big damn changes… and people who got burned and avoid getting burned… and mostly… just kinda amble on being the same person.
Elie Hirschman says
I don’t know if someone on or off meds is the “real” version. It’s just 2 different people and you have the ability to choose who to be. If you like the other you better, go for it. But to cling to depression as “My thing” seems harmful and counterproductive.
Answer : because depression isn’t just a disease, it’s a defense. As much as we hate our depression, we also hide behind it. If we lost it, we would be exposed to the world and have to deal with things.
N. D. says
I can’t imagine a version of myself without depression . It honestly scares me when I think of it happening, I know it’s terrible, but it feels like a vital part of me. Even though I know it’s not.
Like others, I’ve had mental health problems since my early teens, and at this point I don’t know who I am without them. I can barely tell when I’m depressed and when I’m not, because it all just blends together.