5 Reasons Why Depression Can Be A Good Thing

 

depression

“Hey cheer up, it can’t be that bad. Pull yourself together”

Anyone who has experienced depression knows how words such as those can turn our blood into a boiling cauldron of rage . It’s no wonder many of us refuse to tell anyone how we’re feeling when we just KNOW what the common response will be. The ignorance of the more fortunate members of society cause us to suppress and contain these feelings and thoughts to ourselves.

It’s a disease, an illness, the modern day version of leprosy where revealing our affliction immediately condemns us to the metaphorical island of isolation where we can wither away and the ordinary folk can judge from afar.

To be fair not everyone shares these views, for that I applaud them. It can be difficult to truly understand what depression feels like. I can’t understand how it feels to be a psychopath and to be devoid of all empathy and guilt. To lack the basic brain function of what makes us human.  It must be similarly unfathomable for most people to understand how people like us struggle to feel happiness and joy, even when surrounded by intense emotional stimuli.

Not many people know what goes on inside my head. I like it this way; it makes me feel uncomfortable imagining everyone poking around in there. I admit, I don’t know exactly what is wrong, but for as long as I can remember something’s been amiss. The little chemist in my brain has messed up the formula and while he’s not in danger of blowing up his lab, my inner Walter White is at best, a little confused.

I suppose I am one of the lucky ones. I don’t have any ‘bad’ thoughts and I feel genuine empathy for those who face negativity on a daily basis. My general thoughts are of vast indifference to the world and everything in it. The things that should make me happy only serve to slightly elevate my mood and stimuli that should invoke a feeling of sadness doesn’t have a strong effect on me.

Maybe I have just learned how to deal with negativity, I don’t know, maybe I’m just desensitized.

Learning to deal with how my brain works, and having come to terms with my feelings, I now feel that there is an upside to this. Truth be told, there is an upside to most things if we look hard enough, that’s why I would like to share 5 aspects of depression that can serve us well in the long run.

1. Being miserable can actually extend our life

What? Yes it’s true. We are forever told that happiness is the key to longevity but as it turns out, there may be such a thing as a ‘depression gene’ and those who have it are better at fighting disease and infection.

Scientists have often wondered why this gene still manages to be passed on when it is supposed to be bad for us. The answer lies in that it could be crucial for our survival for it helps improve our immune system. Expressing depression like symptoms is actually conducive to fighting infection.

Not only this, but as I have mentioned before, being miserable in general enables us to think clearer and we make better less impulsive decisions.

2. It increases our self-awareness

I don’t know about you but I definitely feel like I know and understand myself better than the average ‘happy’ person. I believe that depression acts as a viewfinder into who we are and we become more introspective as a result.

A lot of people go through their life totally ignorant to their feelings. They simply don’t question and analyse why they think a certain way and how their behaviour is affecting both themselves and those around them.

This is why many great musicians, poets, writers, artists and entertainers have experienced depression at some point. Reaching into yourself and discovering who you really are lends itself to a creative output.

3. We become more intuitive about other people

The flipside of being more in tune with ourselves is that we tend to notice and empathise with other people too.

Not everyone wears their heart on their sleeve yet whenever there is any kind of inner turmoil, there will always be some kind of external trigger sign letting people know what lies beneath. Those who have experienced these emotions themselves are better at picking up on these cues.

Obviously the benefit of being more intuitive is that by seeing this in other people, we feel less alone and isolated as a result. The fact is that the best friend anyone can have is a friend that understands who we are and knows how to help out when things get a little scary.

4. It forces us to appreciate the little things

Life can be difficult and when those days crop up where we just can’t face the day ahead it’s too easy to focus on the negativity and allow it to consume our thoughts. I believe that the ability to focus on the little things can be a great way to increase our mood.

For example, I take the time to really pay attention to all the things that many of us normally take for granted. As I write this the sun is shining on the right side of my body and the warmth feels really good. It creates a feeling of being present and any worries I had 5 minutes ago had temporarily left my thoughts.

Most people go through their lives in such a daze that they don’t take the time to appreciate the world around them. For people who experience depression, there are always brief windows of respite and it’s during these times that we can really make the most of our positive thoughts.

5. Depression and personal development go hand in hand

You know what separates you from the majority of the population? You want to get better. You want to change who you are and you want to do it NOW.

It’s all very well saying there are positive aspects of depression but the reality is that it sucks. It is there pretty much 24/7 and we know that it prevents us from living the life we all imagine.

So how is this good? Well most people when presented with the opportunity to develop themselves pass up on this chance. They think their lives are decent enough already that they are happy to count down their days until the reaper comes knocking.

There is an irony involved here that the illness which is partly responsible for procrastination and a lack of dopamine in the brain can actually flip 180 and motivate us to become the best we can be.

I would love to read your thoughts on this subject. Have you noticed any positive aspects of depression, whether in yourself or in other people? Let me know in the comments below.

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Are you sick of how people misunderstand depression? Read my new article  - 4 Ridiculously common misconceptions about depression (and how to change your thoughts)

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About Jamie

Jamie is a guitar teacher and writer who hates the typical 9-5 existence. After quitting his job to enter the world of guitar tuition, he created this blog to document his thoughts and struggles as he takes on societies norms armed with nothing more than his cheeky wit and undeniable charm - Give his Facebook page a like, add him on Twitter or follow his Google+ page and he will repay you with even more awesome words!

Comments

  1. Hi Jamie,

    having suffered mild depression and anxiety myself for a long time, I can say that you made some good points in your article.

    It’s hard not to agree that depression sucks, especially when it inhibits your natural and spontaneous self, making you constantly ruminate on your past mistakes and painful experiences or worrying about the future.

    It can easily make you feel alien to the people around you, sad and unmotivated, sometimes even hopeless and desperate (and this is why I think that in such cases medical advice is ALWAYS to be taken into consideration).

    And yet, after several years struggling with this condition, I’m gradually convincing myself that this may really be a kind of bless in disguise, if properly put in perspective.

    As you pointed out in the last paragraph of your article, trying to better myself, to develop new skills and to grow as much as I am able to has gradually become a habit for me, since I’ve always seen it as the only way to escape from the stress and problems of my condition.

    With time, this has led me to achieve good results within both personal and working life (for the sake of the example, after being an employee for 6+ years of my life, I’m now a quite capable entrepreneur who loves his work and enjoys more free time).

    I’m still far from living the life I’ve always dreamed of, but I definitely see some progress coming in and I’m slowing learning to enjoy that sense of curiosity and enthusiasm embedded in my desire of personal growth and change.

    If I could give a suggestion to people who are depressed now, it would be: feel free to seek medical advice as needed (especially if you live with severe depression, you CANNOT beat depression alone) but, at the same time, try to strengthen your character and learn to develop some skills from within, take calculated risks and learn from your failures (that will only add to your experience), stop paying too attention to the opinion of others and begins to think that you can take advantage of your current state by being less superficial and more involved in everything you do than your fellows.

    Thank you again for the nice article Jamie, you have a new reader here.
    Fab.

    • Hey thanks for sharing your story. I think more people share these feelings more than most of us realise and the more we share and raise awareness, the better it will be for everyone in the long run.

      It’s cool that you’re doing your own thing now and that you haven’t let this stop you from achieving what you want. Keep it up!

  2. Jamie,
    I find that as depression can linger and cause me to feel isolated, it does have its benefits. I have played the piano for 15 years, and simply cannot reach the same level of total musical bliss otherwise. Depression helps slow down your mind long enough to allow your deepest self to wake up and explore. Often we will be struck by things that are so beautiful, that they cannot be explained to others. Depression is lonely sometimes, but it is also a world where we feel deeply and takes place in a time where the current world stops. Perhaps depression is a way for our bodies to be allowed to experience inspiration and beauty so mind blowing that it could not be handled if we were in a highly reactive frame of mind. When I am depressed I like to play Chopin. My advise to anyone who is depressed is to find that corner in his soul where he feels inspired, and simply bask in the beauty he should find there.

    • This was beautiful Jamie, especially the last sentence.
      I get quite severe depression that disconnects me from reality, everything looks like a dream or a film and my eyes like a camera and my thoughts like the narrator.
      There is a lot of beautiful moments in this world, and I’m glad I can experience them, I just need a bit more motivation. I can deal with the sadness, I can deal with the loneliness, but when I am physically unable to create art that is when I really suffer, I NEED to create to be ok. Its my remedy.

      • Hi Lucia, I too have experienced that feeling too of looking through the world in a slight haze. Where the clarity seems to have disappeared and my HD life has gone all 480p.

        We all have our remedies, and we should always stick with them. Find what works and keep doing it! Thanks for your comment!

  3. I like the basic five principles you outline here.

    One thing odd about your blog though; in the top left corner, there seems to be a link to an online gambling website. Do you think this is an appropriate link destination for visitors struggling with mental health?!

    And why do I need to add a URL?

    • Thanks for your comment Duncan. That link seems to be an affiliate for the WordPress theme I am using, and the url is to show your blog/website (if you have one) and allow people who like your comment to visit your page. You don’t have to use it.

  4. When i am depressed i don’t crash. When i am feeling good and something bad happens or i get in a bad mood i crash and to me that is the worst feeling in the world. Staying depressed is not good but it beats crashing.

    • Luckily I don’t experience crashes so I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not. At least by crashing you were feeling great to start with..

  5. all I know is when I had a very bad bout of depression It was like living in perpetual hell. The only good thing about it was when I finally came out of it normal things that drove normal people crazy I was very calm . I saw life in a different way .. hey that is a good thing.

    • That’s it, when you come out the other side, for however long that may be, you end up seeing life a bit differently. At least that’s what I think. You learn to let trivial annoyances wash over which a lot of people can’t seem to fathom.

  6. I like all of your points Jamie, and pretty much agree with you on all of them. Thanks for writing.

  7. Hey Jamie,

    I found your website through Cracked, great article by the way! I was pretty much born with depression, I’ve been in and out of therapy since I was six and on Prozac since I was seventeen. Prozac is a lifesaver, literally!

    Most of my personality developed around hiding the depression from other people and finding ways to deal with being depressed and anxious all the time. I’m always thankful my parents drilled into me that exercise and study should be the focus of my working days, because otherwise I may have turned to substance abuse to cope with the sadness (it’s actually painful sometimes, like someone squeezing my chest really hard or dropping bricks onto it). Instead I got addicted to the endorphin high from running cross country and long-distance track. I was never that fast but it taught me how to keep fit for the rest of my life.

    I’ve also been told that I have a high level of empathy for other people. I think it’s because I’m pretty good at telling when other people are sad, having so much experience with that emotion myself. Also being depressed means you end up in a lot of abusive relationships and situations, at least in my particular case of having low self-esteem and being small and vulnerable-looking as well, so it kind of becomes a survival mechanism.

    Having grown up with depression and having it for so long makes me hyperaware of how I’m acting. I can’t exactly detach from the situation and think, “That’s stupid, stop being upset!” without making myself more upset for being upset in the first place (hurrah, irrational thought processes!) but I can look back at my actions and figure out exactly what’s motivating them once I’ve come back from a low.

    I do like to write and maybe that and the empathy thing contribute to that, though whenever I write while I’m in a low it comes out pretty awful. I don’t know if this is true for more than just me, but in my case it’s the perspective on why I and others act the way we do than the actual sadness that helps out with my creativity.

    Sorry for the long comment but I went all depressive on my friends last night and feel awful that I made them worry on an otherwise fun Saturday night. It’s nice to be reminded that some good things can come from my brain’s weird aversion to serotonin.

    • Hey Rachel, thanks for your thoughts here.

      I think a lot of people who go through depression experience a higher level of empathy because we understand what it’s like when shit hits the fan. Remember to use your low moments for good and get creative or just know that it won’t be long before the next high or moment or fun. It will always come around soon so just ride it out!

  8. sphinctrelle says:

    Nothing if not an underachieving laughingstock, I feel that depression is synonymous with shame and rooted in sloth, dereliction and neglect. Labor is spiritual reinstatement and questions of identity are the birthright of city dwelling. Which brings to hind an old bluegrass tune my dad played

    “What have they done with the old home place, whyyy did they tear it down

    And y did I leave that plow In the field, to look for a job in the town”

  9. Interesting article. Thanks for writing. I can agree with a lot of it. Sometimes I wonder if depression is just another way of my body sending me a message that I need to change my life, that I can’t just keep going along with the status quo and what I have been doing every day any more. I need to slow down. That said, I haven’t been really depressed for many years now– I was diagnosed and received treatment in my teenage years. These positive effects have lingered past that though.

  10. Interesting article. I am right now experiencing depression and struggling to manage it. This time it is deeper than my previous depressions. It is very difficult and most of the time my life feels like walking inside a dark tunnel, slowly sloping downwards, with no hope or meaning.
    But I try to force myself to think there will be meaning again in my life, and hope that the positive thoughts I force myself to think will slowly start altering also the way I feel.
    Two things I have felt are positive or potentially positive with this experience is:
    1) It has forced me to examine and reevaluate what things in life are really important to me. I have opened up to people, let go of my “masks” and dared to show how I really feel, and I have felt compassion and acceptance. I have realised that my close personal relationships is where I have to put more energy and focus in my life when I feel better.
    2) It has increased my empathy. I now know how it feels to be really depressed and this has given me an impulse to be more of a support to other people in their difficult situations. I will from this day look at other people with more compassion and it has become more important to me to be the best person I can be, and to help others, because I know what it means to feel lonely and desperate and without hope.

  11. I had a 2 year-long depression and the only thing I can think of that was good about it is that I survived it, and started a 5-year long process of changing certain things in my life, which I am finally finishing with. The most important thing I learned was how to recognise my depressive thought patterns (yes, they are always in there) and to redirect; it’s like you can feel those old pathways working, and you can divert from them. If I hadn’t had the depression, I wouldn’t have learned this – but I also wouldn’t have had to learn this, if you know what I mean. I would rather have not learned it. I wasted a lot of time and energy which I can never get back. Moments of beauty can come just as sweetly from wistfulness or short-term ‘blue’ moods, you don’t need depression to be creative or artistic or dedicated, and knowing yourself without knowing yourself in joy as well as misery seems a job part-done to me. I am lucky that my depression was circumstantial, has not recurred even with some pretty crap subsequent circumstances, and eventually I pulled out of it without drugs or losing friends and family to isolating tendancies. But I say – if it makes you feel better in any way to see the silver lining in your depression, then go for it – anything that works, anything that helps. I wasn’t able to. Good luck and good health – keep on fighting, things do change.

  12. It’s nice that you’re trying to look at the positive side, and I’m glad that for some people (judging by the comments) benefitted from it despite the hardship. However I think it’s important to note that you’re making some generalisations and describing an experience of depression that is milder – one that I’m familiar with, because the first bouts of this illness I experienced made life sucky, but it was manageable, and it definitely made me believe that perhaps people who experience suffering in life have the *potential* to experience happiness in a greater capacity than your average person (this not being specific to depression though, just hardship in suffering in general).

    HOWEVER.

    If someone who isn’t much of a believer in mental health issues was to read this article… I believe it could potentially reinforce their belief that people just need to “look on the bright side” – as you are doing (which is great, but this is YOUR experience and some people may not understand that not everybody can do this) – and not understand the difficulty of this illness.

    I’ve experienced all that you’re describing, but for the past year and a half I’ve been going through the worst bout of depression I’ve had to date. I’m crippled by it and crippled by anxiety. What I’ve experienced in the past is nothing compared to what I’m going through right now. Perhaps this is because my first bouts of depression were situational, and once I removed myself from the abusive situation, things got better – but this time around, my life has never been so good, I have the things I’ve always wanted, and yet I feel so, so bad.

    I have uncontrollable negative or catastrophic thoughts that actually GIVE me anxiety – for example, as I was trying to fall asleep yesterday and attempted to think of something relaxing. I imagined my partner and myself on a speedboat, her teaching me how to drive it. Then the boat capsized and we were stranded in the middle of a huge body of water near a small protruding rock (a sight we saw on holiday recently). Not being a great swimmer I clung onto it for dear life, while my partner decided to swim to the (visible but very distant) shore for help. Which turned into myself being alone on this rock, and not knowing whether she’s okay, still swimming for help, or drowned from exhaustion.

    This wasn’t a dream. This entire through took mere seconds to pass through my mind and it gave me physical anxiety – even though it was a completely hypothetical situation that we probably won’t ever find ourselves in. But this is how my mind works these days. The smallest, most trivial situation will trigger catastrophic thinking that may give me panic attacks, and sometimes there doesn’t even need to be a trigger – the thoughts just come.

    This is just one tiny example of what I’m dealing with. And yes, I do believe that I’m more intuitive and know myself better than the average person. Whether that’s “thanks to” depression I don’t really know, because I’ve always been kinda different from peers my age. I also believe that I’m a fighter – and once this fight is over, if ever, I’ll fight harder for the things I want from life. But none of these things really help me right now, you know? I’m completely dysfunctional. I’m not living – I’m existing, and it’s not pleasant. Maybe if it was otherwise, and this was manageable, I could reap the benefits of being an intuitive empathetic introspective creative fucker, but right now there’s just me and my demons.

    • Hi Ronna. As crazy at it seems, having strange, random and scary thoughts is pretty normal. I have these all the time. Ranging from the bizarre like, what would happen if gravity suddenly reverses.. and then imagine myself floating up into space to the scary such as getting hit by a train.

      I hate trains.

      But no matter what type of depression or thoughts we are experiencing, I believe that we should just allow these thoughts and feelings in, give them room to breath and accept the outcome. Fighting is what causes our internal conflict. Accept the situation, get help if need be and continue moving forwards. We’ll get there.. inch by inch.

  13. Right on crouton. Excellent analogies. Thanks for writing. Can’t help but think of all the construction guys at work rolling their eyes. Just glad I live in liberal Seattle where there are more depressed, artistic, empathetic people than most places on our planet.

    Hope you find your peace often,

    Mike
    Mike recently posted..Four Seahawks tops at their positions in Pro Bowl ballotingMy Profile

    • Hi Mike, thanks for your message. I only know of Seattle from Tv and movies and it always seems like it’s raining – that probably means it’s just like the UK and that would be enough to give anyone depression ;-)

  14. Thank you so much for your article. Having suffered from depression/anxiety/ADHD, I’ve developed creative ways to pull myself out of bed in the morning. I find that setting lofty goals help me to keep my mind focused on something good. One goal I set was to enter myself into a figure competition. I’ve heard that exercise helps with depression (something to do with endorphins and such) so I set a goal to give me a reason to get out of bed. I surrounded myself with like-minded people going through the same thing and we helped each other every day to keep motivated. I still needed the meds but exercise has been the best way for me to cope.

    Also, I learned that possibly, my depression and anxiety stemmed from undiagnosed ADHD. Once my doctor put me on ADHD medication it helped me to stay focused and function better in my job and home life which also helped with self esteem.

    • Hi Mary! While I don’t know exactly what type of depression you have (other than ADHD), I read an interesting article yesterday that showed a study where people with Bi Polar were more likely to set crazy goals (and be more likely to achieve them). It’s all about focus!

  15. Hey Jamie… thanks for the article. Really enjoyed it and you made some very good points. I like what you said about being in touch with yourself – it’s true and it certainly gives you a greater awareness of what’s going on rather than just gliding along on the surface. Depression is awful but I’ve found it ultimately leads to some kind of psychic release which can be equally disturbing in that there is no control over all things that surface. But creatively, it leads to some pretty amazing things. Thanks

    • Hi Steve, thanks for your comment! I’ve always found it better to be self aware as we can then learn to be more in tune with others as a result.

  16. Hi Jamie,
    What a great article you wrote! In this “tough it up” world it is so nice to see there’s another person who sees that being emotional is not a bad thing. If anything, it is a great asset. Because of our emotional being we can become a great friend, a great motivator or a great healer. Your article touched my heart and I’m sure it touches others too, even if they’re not depressed. And I think it’s because you can truly empathize. May God bless you always Jaime :)

    • Hi Dian – I believe in using emotions in a positive way, whether for ourselves or in helping others. Thanks for commenting.

  17. Hey Jamie, thank you for the article. I have had depression for pretty much my entire life. I struggle everyday just to get things done. It seems like your in this dark tunnel waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel to come, but it never does. I also have A.D.D. which is another struggle. I find my self always thinking what did i do wrong to deserve this pain and suffering. And its so hard to talk to people and tell them how you feel. Its the same response almost everytime, it will get better, cheer up. I dont have any friends they seem to keep moving away. It makes me give up the hope to even having friends. I really liked how your article brought out that you find your inner self and truly know who you are as a person. I question myself all the time though. Am i good enough? Am i good mother? Am i good wife, am i giving him all that my husband needs?. I have been thinking better theses days though. I had a bad time a few months ago. I tried to commit suicide and ended in the hospital. Im fine now. I am trying to have a better outlook on life. And all the good i have. I have a wonderful daughter and husband. Great family. I used to draw alot in school i love drawing but have lost touch with it after a few years. I just dont have time anymore. Im propably babbling way to much. Thanks again for the great article. I find that you understand and have helped me to understand about my illeness thank you for speaking out jamie.

    • Hey Kim, thanks for contributing your story to this article. Life is full of ups and downs and with depression, our downs almost become normal.. but we keep on fighting! Regarding friends, it’s easier if we accept that some people are sincere with their misunderstanding – it’s not their fault. Try to carry those that matter through with you!

  18. I’ve now been on varying doses on anti depressants for four years now. There are always times when I feel great and stable, but every now and again I can feel it all coming back and hitting me again. I become obsessive about doing certain things, become introverted and emotional. It can be hard in those states to see anything good about depression. However, your article shows that good can come of it in all the ways you’ve talked about. I find myself appreciating the small things so much more than I do when my life is a “non-depressive” whirlwind. I also realise just what fantastic friends I have when I feel down. No matter how often I feel down, they always seem to appear at just the right moment to pull me out. It really does make you appreciate life, and the people around you.

    • They do say people who are depressed tend to have a good sense of humour, especially self deprecating humour. It’s all about looking for the positives in any situation. Learning to enjoy the little things and the like. Thanks for your comment!

  19. Ken Macdonald says:

    Hey Jamie,

    Great article! I came here on behalf of someone else but also to reflect on a depression I had many years ago. One of the positive things that came out of my depression, is that I started telling people I care about that I love them. Growing up for both myself and my wifes family – neither of us ever heard “I love you” from our parents. It seems to be one of those things a lot of families dont say or talk about anymore. At least the ones that I know.

    Anyway, my wife – who at the time was just a girlfriend of several weeks or maybe months – is the reason i’m here today and we have an 8 month old son now. If it hadnta been for depression, i never would have told my mother or her or my son, that I love them, everytime i talk to them (if they dont see me regularly) or at the very least in the morning and when I go to bed.

    I think its an important relationship tool. Being able to shamelessly say I love you to anyone you deeply care about is really important.

    What brought me to that point was that I had asked my doctor for sleeping meds as I couldnt sleep (maybe 1 hour a night at the time). Two days later I tried taking the whole bottle… somewhere in that mess I had “emailed” my wife (who was my new girlfriend at the time) that I was sorry I sucked as a boyfriend and some other stuff – basically thanking her for caring about me but that I’m done with life… So overdosed, she skipped school and came right to my place… ended up calling my sister a few provinces over who got a hold of my mom who coordinated getting me to the hospital…

    It was a very courageous and caring thing for her to do, considering she barely knew me at the time.. and for it I likely owe her my life. Also because of it, i learned to tell my family that I love them.

    Anyway, just one small part of my battle with depression that resulted in something amazing.. a loving wife and amazing son.

    Thanks for the article. Its nice to reflect on my past and EVERYTHING you wrote in it is completely true. Its nice to see someone that understands this battle.

    • Thanks for sharing your story Ken. I’m sure there will be many people who will find your words helpful. Keep moving forwards!

  20. Hi Jamie,
    Thanks for your article which was an eye opener for me. I’ve had depression since my teens (and perhaps earlier?). I’ve never even considered there being a positive aspect to it, so it was refreshing to contemplate your ideas.
    Sadly, I lost my father to suicide 8 years ago. I then lost my brother to suicide last year (my only sibling). So as you can imagine, I have been through a major struggle in trying to come to terms with this, and continue to do so. It took 4 years to get over the shock of my dad’s, then two years later I went through it all again with my brother’s. I think I’m starting to come out of the shock now, but the reality of the two suicides has hit me very badly. The past few months has been the worst and I often wonder if I’ll end up like them, it’s a constant concern. The difference is that I’m on anti-depressants, whereas neither of them would get medical help.
    I have post traumatic stress disorder after going through all that took place (finding the knife both times that were used to cut them down, and many, other extremely traumatic related incidents).
    The only positive thing I’ve ascertained from these situations, is that I’m very eager to help with reducing the stigma in society about asking for help. I was even interviewed on tv about this subject. The stigma has been so profound for far too long. I have a sticker on my car that says “It’s OK to talk about suicide”.
    One thing I will say though, to your other readers, is that if you ever find yourself feeling suicidal, don’t EVER go ahead with it. You will totally DESTROY the lives of anyone close to you. In fact, I wasn’t even overly close to my brother or father (as they were both very cold, unaffectionate, unhappy men). However, their suicides have destroyed me and I’m sure that neither of them would have thought that would be the case. Most people who are suicidal feel that those around them would be better off without them. In fact, it’s the complete opposite – those left behind are chronically traumatised and tormented, relentlessly for years.
    So that’s the positive that has come out of my “family depression”, to help others realise that you will ruin others’ lives if you don’t get medical help when feeling depressed or suicidal. It is nothing to be ashamed of – to ask for medical help – it’s VERY common. It is not a weak thing to do, but a STRONG and intelligent step to take. So please get the help if you need it, without hesitation, as I am currently doing. And TALK to someone, anyone – don’t suffer alone – you don’t have to. ;-)

    • Thanks for your story Jessie. I’m sure your words will be very helpful for those who are on a downward spiral. You’re right about the knock on effects suicide has on those around them – I had experience of this recently from a former band mate and it devastated so many people. It’s all about trying to ensure that those who need help, can get help. That they don’t feel alone, unwanted and worthless as that is never the case.

  21. I have suffered from stress and anxiety this year, brought on by my job and not helped by having small children who do not do sleeping. I am coming out the other side now and have returned back to my job after 8 months sick leave. I have learnt an awful lot this year and, whilst it has been an awful year to experience, the endurance of this illness has resulted in many positives.
    1. I discovered how strong I am. I am REALLY strong but I am not Super Woman and I have discovered my breaking point. I don’t think I will break again.
    2. I have had counselling, which has given me insights that have helped me to recover, but also have helped my think about who I am, acknowledge deeply hidden emotions and be more forgiving of myself.
    3. I have discovered mindfulness meditation, which really resonates with what Jamie has said about experiencing the moment. I highly recommend it for anyone. It is especially beneficial for those suffering from stress and anxiety and depression.
    4. I have far more empathy and understanding of others. I have recognised anxiety and depression in others and am now far closer to some lovely strong people in my life than I was a couple of years ago.
    5. I have seen the positives in my current career, but also considered alternative careers. Perhaps in time, I will take the courage to pursue a career in counselling.
    6. My team at work has doubled. My workload is much much smaller. I am more assertive and have found the ability to say “no” at work. People at work now listen when I tell them what is and isn’t achievable and if I ask for support, I get support.
    7. Boy do I appreciate my pay slip now!!!

    Jamie, I think there are quite a few links between stress and depression as I recognise so much in what you have written. I also feel better able to understand and help friends who struggle with depression. The difference is that I think stress is quite temporary and linked to struggling with life events. I think depression is a brain chemical issue, which sounds a lot less predictable and more long term. Does that sound correct to you?

    I wish you luck in your fight with depression and I’m sure that your writings have helped many to feel more understood and less alone.

    Very best wishes,

    Claire

    • Hi Claire, I agree – stress and anxiety have often been thought as being depression’s little siblings. I think they are all linked because they all form part of how our brain processes and uses information and chemicals.

      It looks as though you are really doing well, so well done and keep it up! Thanks.

  22. Kelsey Jones says:

    Hi Jamie! You say that depression can cause us to “flip 180″ ….. can you give any specific examples? I’m at a point in my life where I am considering going back on medication due to the total lack of energy and motivation. However, I’ve noticed that once I start forcing myself to do things that are normally very tiring/uncomfortable (getting out of bed in the morning, studying, taking my dog for a walk, etc.) I become significantly more productive and “get on a role” so to speak. Yet, the moment I allow myself to relax, the discomfort and tiredness comes roaring back. I am wondering if, with more practice and effort, I can learn to sustain this “productive” behavior for longer periods of time.

    • Hey, you’ve already admitted that you feel better when you force yourself into keeping productive habits, so there’s your first step. Keep doing these and remember to take pleasure in the little things in life. Having a nice bath, treating yourself to a cake, watching your fave movie etc. The more productive, habitual and focused your life is (and the more you try and do the things you enjoy) the happier you will feel.

  23. yoshe leigh says:

    Hi Jame,
    I sometimes feel depressed but I don’t know if I would call it depression. I have felt the indifference to the universe in which you have nicely described. I have experienced the desensitization to the world. . .the detachment almost. What helps me is to know that I am not the only one who feels this way and the good thing about this sort of depression is the self-awareness that comes with it. I am more aware of myself and I am more empathetic towards others when they experience all kinds of feelings on all levels. Thank you for such a great article.

    • There are so many different kinds of depression that to discount it based on the symptoms you read online is a mistake. If you feel low, day in day out then chances are you are experiencing real depression and not a temporary response to a specific situation. Thanks for your comment!

  24. Hi Jamie,Battling depression and anxiety for 6 years now since it hit without warning at age 39 accompanied by massive short term weight loss.What a growth experience in a short period of time!I am considered “functioning but not well” which means life issues other people might get over more easily tend to make me very down,sometimes very emotional and then the process of “restoration” begins.Sleep gets affected.Some medications you find are not ideally suited to you and make you wretch.I even had a religious experience for 48hours withdrawing from one medication.Everything happens for a reason.Winston Churchill and Marvin the robot from Hitchikers guide to the galaxy are my heroes as both suffer from depression as do a couple of Members of Parliament who I’ve exchanged e-mails with when they spoke out.

    • Hi Iain, it’s comforting when you chat to, or look up to others who are experiencing the same thing. It helps us cope with it and enables us to understand that we’re not ‘abnormal’ and that it’s more common than we think. Thanks for your comment.

  25. Having seen this article making its way around the internet, I felt the need to respond to it and clarify the misinformed bunk it’s putting into the minds of readers, especially those who have never suffered from mental illness before. I think a lot of what it has to say is bullcrap. In response to each number:

    1) One study does not a truth make. Depression can lead people to take worse care of themselves, a lot of drugs used to fight depression can have unusual impacts on the immune system, many people with depression self-medicate with substances like alcohol and pot, which damage the body further and can suppress immune function in some instances, AND depression and insomnia correlate very strongly — lack of sleep is one of the major factors in becoming ill and shortening lifespan.

    Also, misery does NOT equal depression. You can’t use studies of one to predict the effects of another. People with depression are usually less mentally clear than normal — they can’t focus or concentrate as well as when they weren’t depressed. They also tend to make impulsive decisions, especially with regard to spending money, more often and sometimes compulsively because of the endorphin rush that the brain gets from purchasing material goods. Depressed people are more likely to end up incurring debt, *especially* if that depression is one side of the double-edged sword of bipolar.

    2) Though people with depression are more likely to turn inwards mentally, it is more often to detrimental effect. Most depression comes with ruminative cycles, self hatred, and blaming oneself for problems or the mental issues themselves, not being able to value oneself or accurately assess your ability in situations. It can also lead to creative blocks and a lack of motivation to do anything. If great artists often suffer from mental illness, it is likely that they produced most of their work on “good days” or when the illness was kept in check by medication or just the cycles of the condition itself.

    3) Again, though there is truth in the fact that folks who have experienced depression are more likely to be able to see the mental distress of others, it’s generally when they aren’t in the midst of a bad depressive episode. When people have depression, they are more likely to become self-absorbed and connect less with the outside world, including other people. They often withdraw from friends, family, and other support systems, isolating themselves.

    4) Okay, this one is actually pretty true, and though not universal, is probably something experienced by most people who suffer from depression. However, it is more complicated than this. Appreciating the little things is generally an important step or affirmation on the road to “recovery”; but in the deepest black pits of depression, everything melds together into one big, scary, unfixable mess that can be difficult for those suffering to attempt to tackle, because everything seems too big.

    5) In many cases, it is not true that someone with depression wants to get better or is capable of making personal development goals. In severe depressions, people are more likely to be suicidal, existentially hopeless, lacking desire or ability to change their situation, and too exhausted and “stuck” to make an effort. It’s only once treatment (a whole other can of worms) has begun that many such people are able to even see past their depression to a hopeful future. Personal development, creating self care regimes, and strategies for dealing with symptoms are necessary as part of a plan for improving one’s life while living with depression. They are not a given or an immediate response to depression. Doing stuff like that is a MASSIVE effort which can be exhausting to the depressed person.

    In summary, fuck this article, and the author can go sit in the corner and think about what poisonous ideas they’re putting out into a world which already stigmatizes mental illness. If he has actually been diagnosed with depression, I can only conclude that it must have been a very mild, temporary mood disorder that was either misdiagnosed or misunderstood by the patient. And even so, he clearly has no grasp of the medical science behind mental illness. Based on the fact that this website also has an article which is titled “Depression is NOT a mental illness”, I suspect it’s safe to say that just about anything you will find on this feel-good piece of garbage blog is unscientific, anecdotal, and not worth the time you’ll spend reading it.

    • I love your last line – yet you spent the time to comment on it…

      The thing is Amanda; Depression has many, many different forms and ranges from mild to severe. No 2 people are alike and no 2 depressions are alike. Mix them together and you have a unique case every time. Does that mean we can’t seek solace and guidance from others who have experienced something similar?

      I do not claim to be a doctor, and anyone with half a brain can see that these ‘poisonous ideas’ are merely an attempt to share my own experiences so that others can maybe find something positive in their condition. We’re not all pessimists and many people I know with depression also have a wickedly dry sense of humour; a case of ‘fuck it, life sucks but lets have a laugh anyway’. Of course not everyone, but enough to make this article relevant to a lot of people.

      Finally, it’s ironic that you chastise me for putting ‘poisonous ideas’ out onto the internet but that comment of yours is figuratively dripping with positive emotions…

      If you’re experiencing depression; I’m sorry to hear that, but please in future bear in mind that not all of us want to spread or read hateful comments.

      Thanks for your thoughts and have a great weekend!

  26. I’ve started a blog as a way to “deal” with my depression. I’ve re-posted a couple of your posts to maybe help those who visit it. I hope this is okay. Each post has a link to the original post.

  27. Hm. I’ve been reading up on depression a lot lately ever since I was told I had severe depression. Don’t really feel like I’m depressed. More like I’m just bored of everything. Anything new becomes boring within a few days.

    Stranger yet. I don’t think about anything. Well to be honest I can’t think about anything. Negative thoughts, happy thoughts, sad thoughts. None of them I can’t think things like “I hate this” I don’t even know how my mind is working to write this. It’s only going through my head as I press each letter.

    • Hey, What you describe is definitely depression. You don’t need a doctor to tell you that. It comes in many forms and a lack of emotion and mental energy is something I’ve experienced in the past to varying degrees.

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