I decided to write a litle stuff together and find out if I can contribute to this community. I found my way out of a severe depression mostly because of my wife and my work, both giving me incredible stability and acting as an anchor to “pull myself” out” – but I couldn’t have done it without the help of medicine bringning my mental balance back to ‘normal’ levels
Experts agree that depression is caused by low serotonine levels but the experts bikeshed about what the best way is to keep these levels back to normal (preventing the body from absorbing them? substituting them? forcing another drug to synthesize them?) – besides that, most antidepressants have a long history of wicked side effects; loss of libido/sex drive being the worst (but then, thinking back, once you are clinically depressed, the last of your worries is sex…)
I have met people who show signs of depression (there are early warning signs but people mostly ignore them or – even worse – they never mention that they have problems because:
a) they fear it will make them susceptible to trolling and jokes
b) society doesn’t accept depression – you are just “too weak”
Jokes – like the all-too-common attack on ones pride in front of others (email/chat/in public) – mostly used by someone to improve his low self-esteem on the expense of anothers who’s self-esteem has to lower for that to work (‘what a loser/weakling, mietje, watje, etc…”)
and even “go kill yourself” is frequently expressed in pseudo-anonymous environments where people just too carelessly say things they would never say if they could see the impact of what they are saying in real life. (missing non-verbal component of a conversation)
Society – the way we live it at the moment – judges people by what they are but by what they achieve – this is expecially dominant in the finance world but also in germany where i come from – your school degree is so incredibly important there because it alone will open the
door to higher education or to a good job. You can just not apply for a job without the right papers, there. A thing the Dutch have solved at a better level (speaking of experience there)
Also look at the German stereotypical “my car has to be better than the neighbors car” – this also works for sales / consultants.
Would you buy a 500K Euro server cluster from a consultant that visits you in a Toyota Aygo? (no offense, Mattronix, just stating facts from sales pitches in our company…)
So, this society.. how does it react to you being depressed? Probably helpful and proactive but the problem is you, you grew up being competitive, being “better than the others” – your school, your
parents and your work all tell you that only achievements count (even video games these days focus on these instead of a good storyline or immersive experience…)
So what do you do when you feel the others all can party on, work harder and achieve more and you can’t even drag your body out of bed or to the social evening at the hackerspace where hugs are free and friends are happy to listen to you?
You are afraid. Afraid to be stigmatized as a “loser” and that is precisely what will happen.
Of course, not publicly, everyone will act helpful and try to comfort you (that dreaded line “everything will be okay” – if you want to see me in hate-rage just say this to me when I feel bad!)
But behind your back they will start to make plans to assign your work to someone else, someone more capable, afraid you will become another number on the ‘long term illness” list, check how they can get rid of you and find someone less of a loser.
Or do they? Maybe you just imagine this because you are depressed and everything is painted black anyway so it will turn out worse?
Once your self esteem suffers it gets worse
The Dutch have a word for this: “piekeren”
– I have yet to find an English and a German word for it but this is the worst of it, this constant thinking, grinding, questioning, judging, asking, rejecting and never having a silent moment for yourself. You can overload yourself with projects and work to make sure you never have a moment for yourself so you don’t start to think in spirals but that works only as long as your energy reserves last – at one point you will fall – and the longer you have postponed it the deeper you will fall.
It is a downward spiral and it feels great to feed it more negative things, something your brain excels at when you are depressed – you perceive everyone who tries to help you as an intruder, an enemy, withdrawing yourself from people even more – eliminating the only thing that can help you get out of it – your friends.
And in the end you are alone with your thoughts… and then the thoughts about suicide start… and they seem like a very good solution the more you think about it…
IT MUST NOT COME TO THIS
“suck it up” doesn’t work once you are in there – you have to ask for help, probably take meds for a couple of weeks and – most importantly: Work actively on a plan how to prevent this from happening again
Accept that you are depressed, analyze your life, the last years of your life, what you did, what moved you, what motivated you, what frustrated you – talking to a psychologist helps tremendously to untie this knot that has formed in your brain and changing your lifestyle somewhat is absolutely neccessary – just eating pills won’t get you out of it.
I have started searching for institutions who deal with depression and expecially depression in young people who associate with a tribe, with the internet community, for example hackers and gamers – these people don’t have a social network as someone has who goes dancing every weekend – they have peers all over the world but they might not be able to ask for help because the normal rules of society don’t apply to them. Let’s find them a safe harbor, show them that there is a way out.
No more hacker suicides!
Please contact me if you want to take this further, have other ideas, want a hug or know of someone who had other experiences – please, I would do everything I can to prevent someone from becoming clinically depressed.
and last but not least:
Quote: “I don’t talk about it much, for a variety of reasons. I feel ashamed to have an illness. (It sounds absurd, but there still is an enormous stigma around being sick.) I don’t want to use being ill as an excuse.”