The Dark Side of the Mood

Sounds like I was jamming to some Floyd with a cold, eh?

Some people are just more prone to depression. It is actually attributed to a certain personality profile and trait – that doesn’t mean that everyone with that profile will have depression…they are just more likely to. If you add to it really shitty circumstances you can bet there will be bouts of it.

There are several things at work in depression, I will call them the ABC’s of depression. Attitude, Behavior and Chemistry.

Attitude. How you see the world. How were you trained to see the world? Optimistically or negatively? How were you brought up to view yourself? Your circumstances and situation? What was modeled to you? I am not giving anyone a wild card to blame anyone else for your own attitude and personal responsibility to choose happiness…but there is something to “modeling”. This is where you tend to even accidentally “model” whatever you were exposed to long term in your formative years.

You can fight the uphill battle and strive towards beauty and happiness, but when overwhelmed and beat down, it is easy to slip back into the modeled, or comfort zone of attitude, which may be very negative.

However, Attitude is the first and foremost key to beating most (not all) depression. You do have the power to change your attitude. You are the only one that can control that. It really is that simple. And that ridiculously difficult.

Then there is Behavior. What do you do on a regular basis? Are you into constructive or destructive behavior habits? Are you in a downward spiral? Are you going through the motions? Do you chose to be around constructive or destructive people? Are you making intentional decisions or just being blown around in the wind? If so, are you doing anything to attempt to change it? This doesn’t happen overnight.

Behavior is very hard to change. In fact, it can only be done effectively after you have had a real change of attitude. Attitude is like the rudder of the ship. One small turn can change the whole course. Behavior is like the ship itself. Once the attitude or rudder makes that change, the ship, or behavior start to follow.

Behavior is hard to change because we are such slaves to our habits. Some habits are even addictions in some form or fashion. That is why rehab often fails…forcing a ship or behavior without the catalyst – or attitude, is usually futile.

But it CAN be done. Attitudes can be changed. Behaviors can be modified. It just requires persistence, resistance, believing, and lots and lots of daily work and support is important too.

Lastly, the C. The Chemistry. This is the trickiest of all. God only knows what is really going on here. Science is making break throughs I guess…but it is still largely trial and error.

Trial and error with some catastrophic consequences. Some anti depression medications have actually caused people to kill themselves because they may have been misdiagnosed as just depressed when they were actually bi-polar. I mean this isn’t child’s play. Most drugs have negative side effects like nausea or feeling dizzy…well, how about delusions of grandeur and suicidal tendencies? Now THERE are some good family memories.

Chemistry is the hardest to figure out. Are you clinically crazy? Or just having a piss poor attitude about life like everyone does now and then? And what is normal anyway? It’s all so flattering and glamorous, really.

There are tons of fund raisers and campaigns for all kinds of diseases and conditions…but depression is just a taboo and figment of the imagination. It is an embarrassing, character flaw or weakness of an individual. It is not given kindness, tolerance, empathy or consideration. It is often met with confusion and irritation, which – ironically causes even more depression.

I guess if you know anyone that suffers any of these ABC’s of depression, the best thing to do is treat them kindly. Don’t kick them when they are down. A depressed person is already painfully aware of their flaws.

Know that it will pass, but give them a little break. Maybe even some tough love, as long as it is really love…not frustration. A hug is also always good. Encouragement, not bullshitting or patronizing – cause even crazy can spot a fake.

But the main thing is…let them have their moment. Let them cry. Let them get it out. Let them have a pity party and then move on. Ignoring the pain only increases it. Telling them that their pity parties are really unattractive doesn’t help. An acknowledgement of their sadness, a distraction with some kind of humor and kind arm around a shoulder can do wonders.

If all that doesn’t work, perhaps chemistry is at play here. If it lasts for weeks or months…maybe. If everything else in their lives are seemingly ok, but yet, they continue to reside in the dark…maybe. And maybe then it is worth consulting a doctor. I just don’t know. But if depression is really an illness…it does deserve treatment just like anything else.

Lastly – a comment on love. What is this elusive thing that most seek, but not all find anyway? Is it a place of peace? Is it contentment? Why do some need it more than others? Depression craves love and acceptance. Not a hero, not a rescue…just companionship. Unconditional love. But the problem is that – people don’t love unconditionally. People love with conditions and limits, and rankings, and on and on.

So you are left with your own attitude, your own behavior, your own chemistry. In this world. Battling up hill, hoping, dreaming, believing in whatever you may believe in. Hoping for some relief from this wretched world. Needing to believe in some kind of heaven, or God, or story line bigger than ourselves.

The key is knowing that moments like this won’t last forever. These moments when we cross over into the shadow of our souls for a brief time. Moments like this make the light even brighter when we travel back out of the shadow. It is just a temporary lapse of unreason, as we strain ourselves back to clarity, and happiness. Because no one can live for long on the dark side of the mood.

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3 thoughts on “The Dark Side of the Mood

  1. The first thing people tell me, especially Christians, when I say anything about struggling with depression for a significant amount of time is that it’s ok to take drugs. I can’t explain how irritating that is. Most don’t want to take the time to listen to what is actually going on with me. Depressed people are a problem to happy people, and the pill will make the problem go away, or so they think.

    Depression is complicated, like you indicated, and the reasons and solutions vary from person to person. Even if the problem is chemistry, the fix may be diet, exercise, natural supplements, treatment of other underlying problems like hypothyroidism, etc. Most doctors don’t look into any of this.

    Depressed people aren’t stupid either. People can be very patronizing to depressed people.

    And happy people aren’t automatically better than someone who’s depressed. Leading a sheltered life and being as shallow as a kiddie pool often lead to happiness. I’m not interested in either one.

    Thanks for letting me have my moment. Ha!

  2. Hey Judy. Great points. Diet can be a big thing. Drugs are not the bandaid super fix all. I am not ruling them out for some, I just personally have never gone there. Seeing the effects of what they have done to my mom is conclusive enough for me.

    And yes…depressed people are not sub par or stupid people. Usually just the opposite – they are usually deep thinkers and feelers…which is part of the situation. Einstein battled depression! Now that definitely changes the playing field.

    Love the shallow kiddie pool analogy! God love those happy go lucky yellow folks playing volleyball in the shallow end of the pool. How I do need them. But I love the whole rainbow of personalities (not so much red…) but definitely feel more comfortable in the deep end.

    Love you.

    • Depression can be deep, ugly and oppressive. I have experienced it, as have my ex, and one of my children. It manifests itself in so many ways. You just have to keep fighting it one day at a time. You can beat this…

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