Published: Good Men Project (August 8, 2015)
Matthew Rozsa explores the latest Twitter trend, #TheWorstPartOfDepressionIs.
For the most part I’m not a big fan of Twitter. Any medium that attempts to condense the human experience into 140 characters is, in my opinion, more likely to water down meaningful self-expression than encourage it. Although my career makes Twitter use something of a necessity, I can’t deny that I view it with the same moderate disdain with which I hold so many other Internet manifestations of our sound byte culture (e.g., memes).
Every so often, however, Twitter winds up producing some unintentionally moving art.
Such was the case with #TheWorstPartOfDepressionIs yesterday.
Those three quotes, produced by individuals who (to the best of my knowledge) have no association with each other outside of their contribution to this latest hashtag, fit together almost unsettlingly well. Anyone who has had depression will tell you that it becomes an overwhelmingly painful experience – physically as well as psychologically – but that, whereas you can remove the conditions that cause certain types of bodily and emotional pain, it is literally impossible to simply “end” the anguish caused by depression. Even if you wanted to make that choice, your mind won’t let you – but, as Annika astutely observed, the familiarity you’ve developed with feeling miserable can often create an additional disincentive.
“ feeling guilty for not “appreciating” how good you have it compared to those who “really suffer”.
– Rev Daniel
“ people assuming you’re ungrateful and spiritually weak.”
“if you are tweeting about and you do not suffer from depression, you are a problem”
And now we’ve reached the obligatory part of this essay where we discuss shaming. Again, this is a common theme in any depressive’s experience – i.e., being told that if you’re depressed, it’s somehow your fault because you’re ungrateful for your various privileges or are too weak to stand up to the same pains that “everyone goes through.” Even one of the advocates trying to cultivate sympathy with sufferers of depression wound up using a shaming technique; how else to argue that people who wish to comment on depression but lack a clinical diagnosis are “a problem”? When it comes to the subject of depression, it seems impossible to have any lengthy discourse without elements of shaming and guilt-tripping getting dragged into it.
“ being unable to stop thinking things you know are false, being trapped with the enemy that is your own mind.”
“ it truly never goes away, the thoughts and feelings stay even when you’re at your happiest”
– “ feeling okay or maybe even happy but waiting until it turns dark and foggy again.”
Finally, we reach the most important part of any thorough examination of depression: Here we find explorations of futility. When you’re depressed, there are no good moments that can entirely erase the pain of your moment-by-moment existence. Sure, the pain will wax and wane – some days are worse than others, and when you’re having a particularly good time those positive experiences can eclipse the potency of your depression – but that sense of darkness never dissipates entirely. Living with depression is, quite literally, the ordeal of spending every waking second with
an emotion that leaves you feeling “very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way” (to crib from Merriam-Webster’s
). The best possible outcome is that you’re able to eke through something resembling a satisfying life despite this debilitating ailment; more often than not, success and failure are a crapshoot.
Okay, one last tweet:
“ when abusers in your life seize upon your most depressive/vulnerable times to abuse/try to manipulate you.”
Personally, I think this is the worst part of depression. I’ve been lucky to have had a lot of love in my life – from significant others and family members to friends and professional colleagues – and I can safely say that the Number One factor which exacerbates my depression is when one of these loved ones hurts me. Unfortunately, the girlfriends/friends/relatives/co-workers who have felt most comfortable doing this (it doesn’t matter what their exact role was, they were all the same here) have been the ones who suffered from some kind of terrible pain in their own lives (often due to mental illness) and believed that, because of their own suffering, it would be okay for them to hurt others.
In other words, very often the men and women most directly responsible for worsening other people’s depression are the ones who suffer from it themselves. If there is one lesson we can hopefully learn from this trending hashtag about depression, it is that there are enough fellow sufferers out there that we should at least conscientious of their feelings too.