venushalley1984 got me thinking. She commented on my post “Excuses and Reasons” and she shared with me a phrase she hears often and hates, “depression is lying to you.” This is to say that your depression (or another symptom of your illness) is creating something (thoughts, behaviours, emotions) that is not real. Without this illness you would cease to be who you currently are (a lie) and be your real self (the truth). This again brings doubt as to the authenticity of you as a person.
This reminded me of a question I found in Manufacturing Depression by Gary Greenberg. At the end of the book there were discussion questions (which I will add to this blog eventually). The first question is the one I want to address:
How does the concept of “On this medication, I am myself at last” (35) make you feel?
To say that your depression is lying and that medication will make you feel like yourself draws a clear line of what is the right person and the wrong person to be.
I don’t know about you but I don’t have an amazing “before ” I went into my depression. I do know that I was very shy, didn’t stand up for myself and was extremely sensitive as a child. To me it almost seems inevitable that when faced with bullying that I would become severely depressed. This in essence IS who I was.
I do not mean this in a “you are your illness” kind of way. I just mean I didn’t go from “normal” to “abnormal”, “perfect” to “imperfect”. I very smoothly went into depression. This is what made medication, therapy and “recovery” so scary. I didn’t have this former awesome “normal” self that other people seem to talk about. I had to create a completely new person! When all you know about yourself is darkness how are you supposed to create someone who can be in the light?
I don’t think depression is lying. I think depression exacerbates feelings, behaviours and thoughts but I don’t think if depression was gone those things would disappear, they may just not be the end of the world. The “myself” that Gary Greenberg is referencing isn’t who you are but who society wants you to be and you should be able to choose if you want to be that person. There is nothing wrong with that person but there is also nothing wrong with being the “ill” person.
We need to ditch the idea of right or wrong in regards to human emotions. The regulation is exhausting! Who are we to say what is the appropriate amount to feel? Who are we to say that someones interpretation of a situation is wrong? For all we know it is the “ill” people who are actually feeling the “right” way and the “normal” people who are feeling the “wrong” way!
I am who I am. That should not be discredited just because I have been labelled with an illness. I do not want medication to “restore” me to a person that I never actually was and is someone who I’m being told I should be. Maybe allowing us to feel and be would make being less harder?