“Depression” – Lying label that doesn’t mean what it says.

Wrestling with understanding what depression is.

“I”m depressed?” I think to myself riding down the road, radio up, singing like the world is my stage surrounded by cars that arranged their day just to be in my presence.

“No way.” I think to myself as the sun’s warmth soaks into my shoulders and the chilly air brushes my face.

“I can’t hear you, I’ve never heard you, I won’t ever hear you, and I don’t want to hear you.” I hear in my head as the question I asked is answered.

“I don’t matter, I never mattered, and I don’t need to be here anymore.” I retort as the music turns into agonized noise, the sun bakes persistently, and the wind screams in my face.

It happens that fast. Life is good. Everything is right in my life. The smallest, most insignificant thing creeps out of some corner in my life and the lights go out. The fuse is blown and I can’t find my way to the fresh air.

I’ve started thinking about people like leaves on a tree. Leaves flourish on all sides, limbs radiating from the trunk, life flowing into each of them. As the prevailing east wind approaches, as is its steady habit, the leaves on the north and south side get a little sideways, the east leaves press securely and confidently into the trunk, completely ambivalent to the breeze. Those west leaves, though, cling for dear fragile life to the limb as the gale pulls them from the trunk, away from the circle of life.

What’s wrong with those western leaves? Good question! You’ve gotta know, those west leaves are depressed. The same substance as all the other leaves but because of their context, they are more susceptible to blowing away.

This is how I’ve been thinking about depression. I don’t live constantly under a dark cloud of hopelessness. I live on that side of the line, but the cloud is often far from me. I know there are others who live even further across the line than I do, and that cloud is often much nearer to them. When the wind blows, those of us normal, healthy people with a disposition towards depression get more quickly covered with the clouds.

What I find problematic with the diagnosis known as “Depression” is that the term fits the minutes and moments but not necessarily the major movements of life. When I am low, I am depressed. When I am low, I am very much in a hole of sorts, a depression in the surface of life, a pebble in the divot on the green. Those are depressive moments, those are times when I am fully covered by what the word means, says, and feels… I am depressed. All of the other times though, when I am living my normal melancholic life, I may feel more sad than the “normal” person, but I am not in the hole. I can laugh, connect with friends, enjoy life, and rest in the warm embrace of love… and I’m still diagnosed as depressed. In these moments, the word doesn’t fit.

When I’m down, it helps me understand that there is a legitimate process at work in my head, that I need to work in one direction to climb from the hole, instead of working in so many directions taking guesses at why I feel the way I feel. The label creates a target and gives me the ability to set up some lifelines before falling in, and some rigging to help me get out.

When I’m up, every time I take a pill, I am reminded that I am depressed, and that is when the label becomes an ill-fitting collar, has me on a leash, and invites me into a hole of hopelessness. Then there is Shakespeare, looking me in the eye, saying something about a rose that, by any other name, would smell so sweet. This thing in my head, this diagnosis, by any other name, would still be so depressing.

6 thoughts on ““Depression” – Lying label that doesn’t mean what it says.”

  1. Do you ever feel like there is nothing worth saying about your feelings toward the world? I often feel like that. Like, who gives a shit? No one cares. Just keep on, Sisyphus, and get over yourself.

    1. All. The. Time.

      I’ve started several videos and deleted them, I’ve written so many pages, and deleted them. I honestly don’t know why I’m writing about it now. Writing helps me think about what I’m feeling instead of just feeling it, so there’s that! But yeah man, a common phrase in my head is, “I don’t matter, it doesn’t matter, nobody cares, keep moving.” It keeps getting harder to “keep moving” though. Thanks for the read!

  2. I realize that I cannot honestly fully understand everything that this feels like, but I do remember one year in high school being right in the middle of this. Feeling like I was living two different lives at once: one that had fun and smiled and enjoyed people, and one that felt empty and directionless and certain that no one would notice or care if I disappeared. I remember one night crying myself to sleep, just praying for peace.
    So I pray two things for you: that God will give you peace, realizing that this doesn’t always look the way we expect. It doesn’t always mean He takes away whatever afflicts us; often it means He gives us the strength to shoulder it, and to use it to point to Himself, to bring Him glory. So peace and full dependence on God is the first thing. But then also that God would draw people to you who have been hurt by the “good Christians don’t get depressed” crowd…because if there’s one thing I know about you, it is that you have impacted a lot of lives, people that may be sidelined by others. So I pray that as you dig into this, people watching you will have the courage to accept, even embrace, their depression as well and will learn how much God loves, supports, comforts, holds up, and sustains us even when in the depths of the low times.

    Reminds me of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9: To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
    (Not that I’m saying you’re conceited, but the part about where he asks the Lord three times to take away whatever is afflicting him, but the Lord says, “My grace is sufficient…my power is made perfect in your weakness.” And Paul’s answer is to boast all the more gladly about his weaknesses to further display Christ’s power and bring glory to the Lord.)

    1. I’m so sorry. I just saw this message. I didn’t realize that I had to “approve” it first.

      And please, keep praying those things for me! Spending time with Jesus a few days ago in the Psalms and starting thinking about the verse which tells me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. With the physical structures of my brain as it is, with the processes and responses that occur within my brain, those things that predispose me to a certain way of interacting with reality, those very things were wonderfully and fearfully made. Not sure why!

  3. Those are great verses to remember and remind ourselves of! I am still praying. Going to hang you inside one of my kitchen cabinets. I’ve started putting prayer lists and people in frequently seen places in the house, so I’m reminded to pray multiple times all through the day. Love you!

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