It happened several years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. My depression was too much for me and I tried to end it by taking my own life. The physical sensations, mental activity, emotions, and spiritual desolation were the deepest I had ever experienced. I thought it was the deepest anyone could go and the only way out was suicide.
I was wrong. I have since been much deeper in every way – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. I am currently in the deepest depression of my life. It has been going on for five months now, yet I don’t feel overwhelmed at all. The level of depression that once almost killed me now seems like a walk in the park. So does this one. Since it doesn’t overwhelm me or control my reactions to it, I wonder: Am I even depressed at all?
This video is a segment of a one-hour DVD based on the book Bipolar In Order: Looking At Depression, Mania, Hallucination, And Delusion From The Other Side.
Although most people who experience delusions and hallucinations react to them in negative ways, it seems that the definition may be creating a false linkage. It could be that hallucinations and delusions are the only symptoms, and everything else is a reaction to these states. Is it true that the only possible reactions to hallucinations and delusional thoughts are adverse ones? My experience says the answer is no. It seems wrong to link the symptoms and reactions together as if there are no other possible reactions. By calling it a disorder, hallucinations and delusions are commonly seen entirely in a negative light.
I got some interesting feedback on my recent post about A New Perspective, so I tried posting the same video and article on LinkedIn to see what they think. It was very interesting how that community responds completely differently (and a great future topic to post about), but one particular comment struck a cord with me that I have not been able to let go of. It has me thinking a lot about what depression feels like and how we define it.
I find the comment to be a pretty accurate reflection of what I have heard quite often — “No matter how well I handle an episode, depression causes me to have difficulty concentrating, darkens my perspective, makes me isolate from others, and creates problems with my perception of time … not to mention that the worldview from my sofa is decidedly limited.” While I think it is a great example of the standard point of view, what sticks out for me is “depression causes me.” I wrote a chapter in Bipolar In Order called “The Definitions Are Not Definitive” and think that the quote perfectly makes my point: the definitions are so unclear as to be confusing.
I facilitate a support group for people with mental conditions along with those who love and support them. Several of us have years of experience of functioning while depressed. The other day we were exploring what it feels like to be deeply depressed instead of making it go away. We were describing depression much like my “Art Of Seeing Depression” article when the topic of watching movies while depressed came up. It brought up interesting ideas that I hope you will share your insights about.
We started calling out favorite movies to watch while depressed, like The Hours or What Dreams May Come, and started joking about why would we want to watch comedies during depression. Somebody said that if others heard us they would be shocked. When asked why, the conversation turned to what we thought most people would think.