I see you. You want to be nice. Perhaps even kind. You smile at her, comfort her, roll your eyes at me. When she leaves, I get the truth. “She’s always like that. Who has time for it? It’s just exhausting!” I’ve heard this all my life, from people who don’t know. I’m just like her. So I know the feelings I engender.
You think we are selfish, annoying, needy. We bring you down. Follow you around. Take up your time.
Do you think we can’t see what you’re thinking? We aren’t stupider than you. We see. We understand. It’s part of the burden we carry. But yet, you insist that we live.
Visit our world.
We have realised that something is wrong. We cry a lot. We’re impatient. Something is deeply wrong with us, and the world, something that makes us feel we will never be happy again. No dementors. What could it be? We try to talk to our friends, and they feel “off”. Won’t meet with us. One day, we can finally acknowledge that we are depressed.
It’s a revelation! Now, what to do?
Maybe we tell someone. They look uncomfortable. They usually give us the correct advice. Get drugs. Get counselling. If we’re lucky. Many of us get told in words to go away and “snap out of it” or “pray yourself out of it”, but even the people who know better, tell you the same thing by pulling back. They may call it being busy, or be a little more honest about it and say they are “giving you space to heal”.
The experts will tell you that you need to reach out to your support system when you are depressed. One of the most important things you can do. You try it, but something is wrong. Off. They suddenly don’t have time. You reach out for anyone, but find yourself adrift in the space they’re leaving you, if, indeed, you still have anyone at all, and they all haven’t left, because you’re a downer.
Still, you go and get your drugs. They say the stigma is gone, but even the doctors treat you strangely. It’s terrifying to admit it. You aren’t OK. You ARE too weak. You can’t snap out, and aren’t holy enough. You don’t want to drug yourself, to change who you are, to get addicted to drugs like you were always told not to. But you see the harm, you know it’s wrong to live like this, so you do it. Maybe you’re just paranoid, too? Got to pay for drugs, got to take them. You feel a bit proud for going in, but nobody else thinks it’s a big deal, even if you have anyone to tell. You take the drugs. Days of panic, heart pounding, vomit… feeling like you’re being constantly zapped by electricity. Normal. You have been fixed. No complaining. You may now not have any more issues. You are cured.
(It takes weeks for most antidepressants to show any effect, and 40% of people won’t ever respond to that first drug. Some 15-30% won’t respond to multiple drugs. Given 6-8 weeks per, plus changing dosages, that’s at least half a year)
That’s what they all want. Fix the problem. No more bother. We know this. We like to fix problems, ourselves, so we know. People want happy, easy friends.
Placebos are very powerful in medicine, and there have been studies suggesting that the placebo effect accounts for most if not all of the effectiveness of anti-depressants. It’s hard to judge how well you’re doing, but you know you’re acting (big effect on mood) and there is hope. I would like to add that our friends encourage that. Any sign of happiness is proof of a cure. They only mean the best.
Now, you are truly alone.
Being alone makes things worse. If your medication works, there is no falseness, and you will be allowed back into society, with only a little distance between you and others to help you relapse. But if it doesn’t…
Your friends think you’re happy. But you’re miserable and scared and a lot less hopeful. You want to pretend, and be accepted back, but eventually, you break farther. Fall apart. Now you truly are desperate and needy, and nobody you can talk to.
Here is the issue. You have several options:
–You can be needy. People will understand once or twice, but then you become a bother and are relegated to the status of “pity project”. Notice that nobody invites you anywhere. They have no time. What’s really great is when they have no time and then you see them with their REAL friends talking about real friends things. It’s a lucky depressed person who even has a real friend.
Now you are one of the jokes people talk about. You are trying. You might try to be nice. You might try helping people. You might try being friendly or more sociable or quieter. When you think about it too much, everything you do seems wrong. Are you being too aloof or too clingy? People are not supposed to be honest about this stuff. You try and try, and nobody likes effort. Everything you do drives them away farther.
–You’re not going to do that (any more?). You’re going to pretend to be happy. After all, there are 313 scientifically-invalid internet memes about how just thinking happy will make your life all sunshine and flowers. You pretend. You’re happy and don’t care what they think. Their opinion of you is none of your business.
But they still know you aren’t right. They can see through you, just like a baby can sense if her mother is faking pretending to be happy, adults can do that, too. Not the bystanders, but anybody who gets even a little close to you can spot it, and it makes them run. And they stop trying. And after a few weeks, a few months, a few years…. you get very lonely and mess up and it all falls apart. Go back to needy.
–You can give up and hide away. Not annoy people. You’ll get worse, but at least nobody else is implicated.
Isn’t option 3 the only ethical one?