Sunday, March 23, 2014

Never, Never, Never, Never

This is the second of three posts I’ve written recently about my depression. I had filed them away, never to see the light of day, but to heck with that. I’m writing about this now; it’s my truth and that’s okay on my blog.

And, because I know that reading other bloggers’ honest accounts of their struggles helps me, I hope it helps someone someday.

I grew up in a house full of people fascinated by history and politics. My father has a particular respect for Winston Churchill. Reading the title of the blog, you may reasonably expect me to follow it with a discourse on Prime Minister Churchill’s speech at Harrow, including this famous quote:

Never give in, never give in, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

Or you may just be curious as to what kind of naughty thing *I* would say never to do. And that could be interesting, since I’m pretty open-minded in general.

What I really want to say, to myself and to you, dear readers, is this:
 Never, never, never, never read the comments.

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I love the comic going around the interwebs these days, the one called “Nest” by Robot Hugs. It conveys the absolute best way to help me when I am depressed. I say that without qualifications. Apparently a lot of other people feel the same, since I’ve seen it many places. Here it is again, for your viewing pleasure. 

I have been on both sides of depression and I know how utterly frustrating it can be to be patient. As both a person struggling with depression and a person watching a loved one’s struggle, I want to cure that disease—just as I want so desperately to heal my children when they have colds or fevers or stomach flu. It stinks to watch someone you love hurt. It stinks to hurt.

The beauty of the comic (the term comic doesn’t seem awesome enough for it!) is that it offers something for bystanders to do when a loved one is depressed. I know it’s what I crave. And think about that for a minute—realize how few words are involved in the scene depicted. A few light inquiries. That’s all.

I’m an editor. For fun, I read and write. I talk more than I really should. I talk a lot! Words are the medium of my life. But when I’m depressed…

Depression, for me, skews my interpretation of the world. The disease twists well-intentioned words so that I hear them as criticism. “Can’t I do anything to help?” becomes “Hurry up and get better already, slacker. You’re irritating me.” Depression’s translation has nothing to do with reality, but that translation ends up living in my head.

So I find the wordless caring shown here beautiful—supportive, safe, loving. It moves me to see it posted so many places online.

I should just never, never, never, never read the comments.

I only read a few. But. I have already deleted several of my responses to some of the most ignorant comments. What is the point in responding? Yet I am horrified that a chemical imbalance that affects a vital organ that, in turn, affects the rest of the body, can be so…judged. Then again, we just found out a quarter of Americans polled don’t know the earth goes around the sun, so…

Maybe I actually should be quoting Mr. Churchill more thoroughly. Maybe this “apparently overwhelming might of the enemy”—ignorance—will someday yield to good sense or good science. Maybe someday at least three-quarters of us will realize that depression is a disease. Maybe we will realize that those who survive depression do so by never, never, never, never giving up for a very long time, through very stern days.

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