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Not a good patch [May. 17th, 2005|11:51 am]
[Current Mood |contemplativecontemplative]

A few people expressed dismay at Ferrett's statement that if he tried to talk to me about his depression too much, I would leave. And certainly his impression that I would bail out on him over a seasonal glitch is a mood-induced distortion.

But his statement is not without some truth.

Our relationship almost dashed upon the rocks of his insecurity and depression and my intolerance for either. He learned to be more self-contained, and I learned to be more tolerant, and the learning stopped the downward spiral and reversed it so that the less he was in need of constant reassurance, the more I could give him reassurance when he needed it, and the more I was able to give him unreserved reassurance, the less of it he needed. For the most part, we're pretty balanced now.

June reminds me of how far we've come.

I have a confession to make. If you need some practical advice on how to deal with a problem, or help in getting a task done, or an ear for bitching about a situation, I'm good for all those things.

But if you're just depressed and miserable, I'm pretty worthless. I've tried, really I have, but I have nothing to offer someone who thinks that life is pointless and a great black hollow.

I think it has to do with how I was raised. To me, if you have heat and water and a phone and electricity, if you have food on the table and no one is beating you or telling you that you're really worthless or sexually molesting you, then your life is pretty damned good - why the hell are you complaining?

Stress, I get. I've been almost crippled by it at times, getting through school. And physical injury I get. When there is a real obstacle to overcome, I can be a cheerleader, helper, adviser. I will sympathize with your agonized journey and celebrate your victory when it ends.

But for depression, I have no handles. I just don't understand it.

I've only felt actual depression once, last year, for a short time. My reaction to it was a pure, animal fear - this was so alien a feeling to me that I wanted to flee from it. Ferrett tried to help me through it - feel it, embrace it, work through. No dice. About a day of that and I went the opposite way. Kick that bad boy to the curb! Look up! Smile! Breathe deeply! In a couple days I was back to normal. Ferrett worried that I was supressing stuff, but geez. If "dealing with your demons" makes a person so miserable, why the hell would I want to do that. And I have been happy, if stressed by school, so no apparent bad side effects.

It obviously wasn't real, chemical-imbalance depression. I know that a merry attitude is not enough to cure that.

Intellectually. I know it intellectually. My visceral reaction is much more in the line of, "Oh for fuck sake get over yourself!" Lacking empathy, I have trouble maintaining any patience for it. And it's made worse since I am generally good with the concrete problems, so people think they can come to me when they are depressed. And woe to them if they do. I don't try to be mean, I am simply at sea dealing with it.

It's a serious fault, this lack of understanding, and has cost me friends in the past. Ferrett is much better at dealing with our daughters' emotional issues than I am, I have to admit that. It may just be that I am too emotionally shallow to be of much help to people in these matters. I know they are hurting, I just don't understand it and can't deal with it. I simply don't have speak the language.

Which makes it good that I didn't go into psychology. Because as a school of therapy, "Geez, snap out of it!" hasn't gained much acceptance....

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[User Picture]From: spreadsothin
2005-05-17 03:58 pm (UTC)
The Geez, snap out of it, generally works for Dr. Phil.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2005-05-17 03:59 pm (UTC)
And I think a lot of times he is right.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2005-05-17 03:58 pm (UTC)
But SOMETIMES -- and God people are going to go batshit insane over this --
"geez, snap out of it" is EXACTLY what is needed.

Just a matter of identifying when it is appropriate and who would respond best to it. I do, usually. I was given anti-depressants, OMG what a disaster. But just a bit of reality? Just needed someone to talk to and push me that way, a push.

You know, a friend wouldn't get angry if you went over and were unable to fix their sink, or their car, or their computer -- they shouldn't get angry if you can't fix their depression.

My best friend is, as I often remind myself, 'useless in a crisis'. I mean I have had a lot of tragic things happen over the past 20 years we have known each other, and she can barely say I'm sorry, or she kind of plays the 'i have it bad too' game, which is true, she does. So a LONG time ago (we're talking 15 years ago or MORE) I realized that was not the direction our relationship took. But let me tell you if I need cheering up, I dont bother telling her I am sad and we just have the best time, we know each other inside and out, and time spent with her makes me happy.

Actually, she's kinda like my husband, now that I think about it.
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[User Picture]From: theferrett
2005-05-17 04:02 pm (UTC)
It's true. "Snap out of it" is usually what most people need; sometimes they need some guidance as to where to snap, or where they're full of shit, but I agree completely even as I'm down right now.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2005-05-17 03:59 pm (UTC)
Hey, do people have greater expectations of you because you are female? Is it sexism that is rearing it's head when you don't meet expectations of dealing with someone's problems?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-05-17 04:01 pm (UTC)
No, I think it's just that I'm otherwise pretty reliable - and more than willing to butt in with my opinion and advise!
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[User Picture]From: jfargo
2005-05-17 04:01 pm (UTC)
My girlfriend, Maria, has a similar approach to therapy: "Get over it!" or "Well, stop it!"

"Doc, I'm feeling really sad and depressed."
"Get over it!"
"I'm just saying, it makes me really sad when I think about all these things.."
"Just stop it then!"

Yeah...not widely accepted yet. :)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-05-17 04:03 pm (UTC)
My advice tends to be in the line of, look up, smile, notice the good things, stop dwelling on this trivial shit.

Not always welcome.
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From: ladytabitha
2005-05-17 04:06 pm (UTC)

Entemann's voice.

Unfortunately, I'm the exact same way.  I've gotten better at sympathising and being a Good Listener for that stuff and stuff, but I'm much better with concrete things than with emotional things.

Amusingly, his post is exactly what's in my head (nearly, rather).  So yeah, on the one hand, concretes not emotions; on the other hand, really bad depression.  Whee!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-05-17 04:08 pm (UTC)

Re: Entemann's voice.

Wow. That sucks. Hang in there....
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[User Picture]From: adjust_56
2005-05-17 04:06 pm (UTC)
we alll have our strong points....don't kock yourself down b/c that is not your forte....it sounds like you found a partner that can balance that out for you...good....and if you tow have a good relationship and understand each other and moore importantly accept each other that's what matters,,, your true freinds will accept you for who you are and come to you for the streghen you have.....From reading your posts, I don't see you as shallow...and stop thinkning you are just b/c you don't fit as a good psychologist....I much prefer you as a lawyer!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-05-17 04:11 pm (UTC)
Emotionally, when it comes to reading others I'm mostly road sheen. Tell me you like me and I accept it. Get upset with me and I probably won't even notice. I get distressed because I find myself in uncomfortable situations where I've totally missed the "I'm pissed" signals.

I'm not beating myself up for it, I just have to account for it and go along.
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[User Picture]From: scathedobsidian
2005-05-17 04:09 pm (UTC)
I sympathize completely. I know exactly what you mean.

Well said.
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[User Picture]From: theferrett
2005-05-17 04:10 pm (UTC)
Sweetie, I love ya, but you've felt depression any number of times since then. You just don't acknowledge it as depression.

You: "I don't know. I have no energy to do anything. I'm feeling really down all the time, and nothing I do seems to cheer me up, and I don't know what to do."

Me: "You're depressed."

You: "NO! It's just... um.... school. Or stress. Or something."

If I tell you, "You're depressed because of school," you're generally okay, but if I tell you, "You're depressed" you panic. You have depressions, but your method of coping is a fervent denial, compounded by the "If I do more work, I'll just come through this all right."

My job is to stand before you when you start to overload - which happens a fair amount - and say, "No, you shouldn't do this. If you do, you will become more depressed." And then you look at me gratefully, for I have given you permission to lie around and not socialize, which is the external source you need to recharge and get past the depression, at least partially.

But you do get depressed. You just never acknowledge it as depression. For you, it's always "exhaustion" or "stress," despite the fact that they are really neither. You're exhausted and stressed, to be sure, but you're depressed because shit, you have no time for friends and that's sad. But if you think about that, you panic, and it's taken me awhile to recognize that your best method for dealing with depression is ABSOLUTE TOTAL DENIAL, followed by me silently creating a space where you can heal.

Admittedly, there's no chemical depression, but that's a different matter.

Love ya!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-05-17 04:29 pm (UTC)
It's not depression, not as people define depression. Absent the overwhelming stress of school, my mood immediately lightens and I'm fine. I don't see that as depression.

But it's a matter of definition, I suppose.
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[User Picture]From: mightydoll
2005-05-17 04:17 pm (UTC)
chemical depression is an odd beast.

I've often found myself hopelessly depressed and then completely furious with myself for it. I tell MYSELF "snap out of it" and then go on feeling like a worthless lump when I can't.

I see shortcomings when I look at the good things...that if I wasn't so useless, they could be better things. NOTHING is a good-enough thing.

It's a rough road, and one I refer to as "stupid"
now you're in on the lexicon of my journal actually...if I use the word stupid, it's because there's a depression that's unfounded.

Drugs really help for me. They straighten out the chemicals, but even they are not everything. They just keep me ABLE to function...without them I spend days on end in my underpants, crying and panicking...with them I can CONTEMPLATE fixing things.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-05-17 05:55 pm (UTC)
I know that it's a hard and horrible thing. But it's so alien to me that I can't help people cope. I feel bad about that.
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[User Picture]From: sageautumn
2005-05-17 04:17 pm (UTC)
I thought the same thing when I saw their comments... "She won't leave you!" and as horrid as it made me feel... I thought, "Well not sooner, but later she might." I just didn't/don't see you as someone that could deal well with that constantly and continually ALL THE TIME. (As in not June, but year-round all.the.TIME.)

And you're not. And that's okay.

I was once. I still am, if I don't know you well. If I know you well, I'm not. Bizarre, I know. Part of it is the small dose factor... mostly it's the fix-it, though. I can't fix it, and it makes me depressed also.
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[User Picture]From: dakiwiboid
2005-05-17 04:26 pm (UTC)

There are circumstances under which....

being told to snap out of my depression would make me well, snap. I'd probably get furious or cry, and that's not an improvement, believe me. I'm not often dangerous when I'm angry, but I've known people who became dangerous when depressed. If one has suicidal tendencies, who knows what the last straw could be? This is one of the reasons why I tend to hole up when I'm depressed...avoiding people who won't give me the space and time I need to work through things. At least you aren't crass enough to demand that theferrett starts smiling when he's miserable, are you? I hate people who do that.

By the way, he's probably right about your depression. My sister denied being cyclically depressed for 40 years, and finally owned up to it last month.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-05-17 05:53 pm (UTC)

Re: There are circumstances under which....

Oh, believe me I know that it isn't helpful. It's just at the tip of my tongue and I have to choke it back.

And he's wrong. But that's okay. [g]
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[User Picture]From: chaosdancer
2005-05-17 04:27 pm (UTC)
I can empathize with the hole in your empathy. I've got one regarding the death of parents, which most people would probably see as sick and weird. When a close friend loses their mom or dad, my first thought isn't "Oh, you poor thing!" It's "Gosh, she seems upset...she must have liked them or something!" Having the parents I did, one a borderline witch from hell and the other just not there, it really makes it hard to imagine having a good healthy relationship with one's parents, and feeling anything other than relief when they pass on. But most people have a much better relationship with their parents and are very deeply saddened. I can understand it in theory, but in my guts parents are still something to escape, run away from with as much of my soul intact as I can.

That said, sometimes you need someone to hand you a beer, take you to Akron and say "poor, poor thing" to you and nothing else will do. I wish my husband would learn that taking me to Paducah, giving me a shot of whiskey and saying "get over it already" won't help. I wouldn't really care if he didn't understand why I needed what I needed, as long as he just did it - fake it till you make it, as it were. I know he doesn't grok all this feeling and interacting stuff and he never will. But he can fake it convincingly with Kieran; am I not worth a tenth of the effort? :( At least he got me a birthday present this year. Maybe he's learning.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-05-17 05:52 pm (UTC)
Wow. Despite everything I still love my parents - it helps that when I got to be a grownup they were okay.

I'm sorry he's not good at giving you what you need. Sometimes you have to say, I need Akron! Because we're too retarded to know....
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[User Picture]From: hookncrook
2005-05-17 04:35 pm (UTC)
I understand your attitude on this. Having been with someone who was cliniclly depressed for 10 years and then trying to help them out of that hole for 5 more years...well it is tiring after the 1000th time someone says, "I just can't," when you know very well they can.

I've been depressed too and it took a lot for me not to kill myself, but I'm like you in ideals that if you have the energy to complain about it you have the energy to fix it (not saying that depression doesn't completely effct people and immobilize them--it does).

But tempermentally it can wear on you so much...too much even for your own mental stability. At one point I just had to tell my partner if he was going to talk about killing himself ALL the time he had just better get on with it because all the consent complaining was wearing on my nerves. After kicking him out to either do or die he got help and got himself back together but it took reaching the end of both our ropes to do that...and still today I don't know if it was worth it relationship wise to go through all that...even if you do love someone because the love gets tainted by all that turmoil and emotional hurt.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2005-05-17 04:53 pm (UTC)
It's like dealing with an alcoholic, what you describe, in a sense, that being the sober one is tiring and hard and draining...you just dont have a magic wand to fix things, even though you want to.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-05-17 05:01 pm (UTC)
I can help you try to cope with the stressor. Which is my way of dealing with it.
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[User Picture]From: nikkif
2005-05-17 05:08 pm (UTC)
I can totally relate. My boyfriend and one of my friends are prone to bouts of depression. When they are in this state, they don't want to do anything. They don't want to do anything with friends because they feel bad, even though they must know that they would feel better if they did something with friends. And I. Just. Don't. Get it.

I think it's because until very recently, I had never felt that way myself. Sure, I get down sometimes, but it's never been disabling. I have always been more inclined to not stress about things I can't change. Sure, they bother me, but I can't do anything to change them, so what good would wallowing in self pity do?

But I just recently went through a really rough patch. I had been looking for a "real job" for two years after grad school. I knew I could do just about any of the jobs I applied for, but I was somehow incapable of passing that belief on to the hiring managers or HR reps. Eventually, I started wondering whether I really could do those jobs... And my boyfriend was always nagging me because he was paying most of the bills, which stressed him out. He was constantly reminding me that I was not living up to my potential. Every time I talked to friends, they would ask how the job search was going. I was tired of telling them the same shitty news, so eventually I started avoiding them. I would even go through phases where I wouldn't apply for jobs. Even though I knew that was self-destructive, applying for jobs only reminded me of all the other times I had failed, so I avoided it. I even stopped reading, which had always been my escape. You see, I didn't have time to read because I was supposed to be looking for a job, and even though I was avoiding the job search, it somehow seemed worse if I was slacking off by reading a fantasy novel. I was doing all the things I never understood when it came from my boyfriend or my friend. I was aware that I was behaving irrationally, but I did it anyway.

It's weird, but I didn't FEEL all that much worse than I do in my normal bouts of stress or melancholy. I could go through a day, and smile, and think about other things. Until my boyfriend started speaking to me in "that tone" or one of my friends asked me how the job search was. That made me want to cloister myself away from them, and away from everyone.

The thing is, some of my friends were nice and sympathetic to me. The way you think someone should be when you are depressed. The way you have difficulty being with Ferrett. But those people didn't make me feel any better, either. I knew they were being nice, but their nice words were only one more reminder that I sucked. I didn't want to see them anymore than I wanted to hear my boyfriend ask what I had accomplished that day. I don't know if there is a good way to deal with someone in that condition. Personally, I appreciated it when people would talk to me about anything other than jobs, as if they weren't really avoiding the topic on purpose. So "get over yourself" wouldn't have been very helpful. I was telling myself that all the time, anyway. But neither would "Oh honey, it'll turn out fine. You just wait and see," have made me feel any better. I would have just thought, "I HAVE BEEN waiting. It is NOT FINE!"

Ultimately, the only thing that worked for me was to find a job. I still wouldn't know the best way to help someone going through a bad spell because of something else.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-05-17 05:19 pm (UTC)
I feel for you. It's a tough thing to go through. I would have had more sympathy because there was a traceable reason for it. Being without a job would be very hard for me. It's when people seem to have everything together but are still hurting that I can't get it. Which is unfortunate because pain is pain.
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[User Picture]From: fieryfae469
2005-05-17 05:44 pm (UTC)
Because as a school of therapy, "Geez, snap out of it!" hasn't gained much acceptance....

Maybe it SHOULD be the way to handle it. Perhaps there would not be so damn many that are dead sure their lives have no meaning. I think this is the therapy my friend brentindeed and another friend Sam used to help me when I was so damn depressed in 2003. NO i did not seek outside councel, because i just knew they'd slap a diagnosis on me and pills into me. I "got over it" and did it on my own and with a little help from my friends. Actually I have never been that down since, either.

Oddly, me being a Nurse? I have to listen and empathize with so many who whine and carry on about their lives. Some have good reason. Others do not. But my own life and with my kids I often DO use those words... Just snap out of it and lets let the body heal itself naturally...

I hate the overly drugged up person. I think nearly anyone can learn to cope and get over things if they'd just try.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-05-17 06:02 pm (UTC)
I think there is a middle ground that needs more exploration. Some people do need a good kick in the tuckus, others need medication. Alas the adage, "when your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" comes to mind. Some people should be treated with better diet, more exercise, breathing exercises, happiness training, whatever, but are instead being drugged because it's so much more measurable.
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[User Picture]From: ytaya
2005-05-17 06:10 pm (UTC)
There's nothing I can't talk about with with my partner, but there are topics we choose to discuss with other people instead, simply because I know from experience that sometimes he's not the best person to talk a particular issue over with, and vice versa. It's healthier that way, and it's healthy to know your limits so you can work within and around them.

To paraphrase Jurassic Park: just because you can talk abut something, doesn't mean you have to :)
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[User Picture]From: cosmicbandit
2005-05-17 06:11 pm (UTC)
I think part of the problem is that depression gives most people who have it pretty irrational thoughts so any logical person looking from the outside will think "WTF?".

I have had depression and suicidal urges on and off since I was twelve. When the news reports that a person has killed themselves most people think "what the hell was so bad?". While I don't necessarily think that they were right in what they did, I understand on personal level what their state of mind was. A logical person cannot understand that kind of irrational thinking.

You are a logical person. :)
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[User Picture]From: shandra
2005-05-17 06:13 pm (UTC)
You are apparently my emotional twin! *high five*

I am working on being better with people suffering from depression, but a lot of that involves me saying "I wish I could be more supportive, but I have a hard time with this... wouldn't you like to go out dancing now?"
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[User Picture]From: ccr1138
2005-05-17 06:36 pm (UTC)
LOL! I am so with you. I score about a 5% on the empathy test, which is actually way into the autistic category [g], and yet for some reason all my good friends are clinically depressed. I think perhaps they are drawn to me because I DON'T put up with their whining. I'm always like: okay, so you feel this way, and that plus $5 will get you a coffee at Starbucks. So, having now established that you feel depressed, what are we going to do today? I also try to make them laugh, which seems to help. But mainly just getting them off their asses and moving is the key.
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[User Picture]From: yndy
2005-05-17 07:13 pm (UTC)
It makes even more sense to me now that you are going to law school ;) which probably sounds nonsequitorial, except that my father could've written this - and he's one of the best attorneys I've ever seen.

Here's my 2 cents...
you said It's a serious fault, this lack of understanding, and has cost me friends in the past and that's the only point I have a problem with.

Gee... so you aren't Oprah... so?

Tell me something, when did it become a *fault* to be human? So what if you aren't the best empathizer in the whole world... you love your husband, you're committed to making your marriage work, that's pretty amazing in this day and age! Do you think people would consider it a "fault" if you lacked, say, a physical prowess? "Oh that zoethe... she's worthless because she can't run a 4 minute mile!!"
Nope. But here's the thing... those who know you, and love you, will accept you for who you are.
So perhaps you aren't the person to turn to in depression (my father certainly isn't!!) that just means that ferrett or anyone else will have to turn to someone for whom that IS a strength.

No one person can be our "everything" - despite the Romance Novels and Hollywood Fantasies...
If they could, why would we have any friends outside of our marriages?

The truth is, if you are a self-aware person, that's all that really matters. My husband, whom I love more than anything, has learned over the past 10 years to say "honey, why don't you call XXX person and go out for coffee..." over certain things, because he has come to the realization that my needs in that department can be better met by 2 hours over coffee with XXX than any amount of effort on his part to be something he just isn't.

He shows his love and support by knowing my needs, knowing whether or not HE can fulfill them, and directing me elsewhere if he can't.

I'm sorry that Ferrett felt that you would "bail out on him over a seasonal glitch" - but that's probably the seasonal depression talking! On the other hand, take a look at yesterday's angst post for me - about dropping someone from my FL who had become a deep, soul-sucking well of 'life is awful' and wasn't willing to do anything to change it.

Hugs... and sorry that your relationship so often gets aired imperfectly on LJ... if you both weren't so damned interesting and fun, that would happen less!! :)

Hugs again!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-05-17 07:24 pm (UTC)
Well, we do put ourselves out there for the airing. Our lives are sort of performance art in that way! [g]

And I know I can't be Wonderwoman, but that doesn't stop me from trying!
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[User Picture]From: ysabel
2005-05-17 07:18 pm (UTC)

OT, but it needed to be said.

Gini, you and Ferrett have tickets to Star Wars on Wednesday night.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-05-17 07:25 pm (UTC)

Re: OT, but it needed to be said.

LOL! We did this in reverse yesterday, though I can't remember over what now. Thank you for letting me know! [g]
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[User Picture]From: forestfire
2005-05-17 09:12 pm (UTC)
Amen.... I play the med game, the live from happy to happy game, the try to pretend to be like everyone else game... I like to pretend that it gets better as I get older. I like to pretend that I am learning how to not be depressed. I think that it may be a lie that I tell myself to get me through.
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[User Picture]From: ruka_
2005-05-18 12:04 am (UTC)
And here I thought I was the ONLY one who felt this way. Now I don't Quite feel so bad being at a loss when people are depressed. @_@
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-05-18 02:42 am (UTC)

Then again...

...as a school of therapy, "Geez, snap out of it!" hasn't gained much acceptance....

Besides the aforementioned Dr. Phil, there's also a book by some bull-headed cretin titled "Shut Up, Stop Whining, and Get A Life!" I know this because every time I got off a plane at Hopkins for the last six months, there was a billboard ad for it just as I turned the corner to exit the concourse.

Thankfully, it's gone now. Not that I think the approach is never without merit-- it's just the vibe coming off this poster immediately made me want to bitchslap this guy.

Anyway, the point of this being that it might be gaining acceptance. It's at least mainstream enough for people to start trying to make a buck off of it.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-05-18 02:46 am (UTC)

Re: Then again...

Yay, you're back! We need to do dinner or something soon.

It is the "children in Africa would LOVE to have your greenbeans" approach to therapy - whatever validity is in it is vastly overshadowed by its lack of empathy.
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