It's not depression if you're sometimes happy? I call bullshit

It's not depression if you're sometimes happy? I call bullshit

Fellow blogger Jenna Karvunidis over at High Gloss and Sauce talked about the possibility that she has PPD (postpartum depression.) From her description, it's a good chance. Or else she has seasonal affective because of this cursed winter. Either way, the symptoms started after giving birth, and keeps persisting. Fortunately, she's seeking treatment, which, if you've ever had depression, is HARD to gather up the energy and willpower to do. She took that important first step, and I hope she keeps it up.

So, with that out of the way--some people think Jenna's just faking it, just because she was happy about a date with her husband. She joked that maybe she was just bored.

Their protestation boils down to: "Look, she was happy--therefore it's not depression!"

Can these people please take their ignorance and get off my internet? Okay, okay, granted, it's an easy trap to fall into. When I've been slodding through my own depressions, it was these happy moments that made me beat myself up all the more. I'd tell myself, "See? I'm not depressed--I'm just spoiled. I need to get over myself. Why am I so sad?"

It's like an abusive relationship. "S/he's not bad--s/he's actually really kind and sweet and loving," the abused partner will say, forgetting the fact that the abuser threw a dish at her head and narrowly missed that morning. It's like your brain's self-protective mechanism to keep you alive and somewhat sane by ignoring the bad parts--but it backfires big time in the long run. The abusive relationship will get worse. So will the depression.

Depression isn't like an OFF switch where you're completely sad all the time. It's a condition with its own fluctuations, so while you cry and feel sad and numb and unfeeling a lot of the time, there are times where you actually laugh. Or feel giddy. Or just simply peaceful. The thing is, these moments occur farrrrr less frequently than they do in a healthier emotional state. It becomes entirely unbalanced, and therapy and/or medicine helps to re-balance it.

For some people, one needs it only short-term. I suspect Jenna won't need help for very long--just long enough to get back going in the right direction and re-balance--then she can wean off of the medicine/therapy and maintain that emotional balance.

Other people need long-term emotional balance. I suspect I fall in this category. My therapist thinks that eventually I can go off the medicine, but I have slipped into far too many depressions to believe that (yet).

(Hell, I'm feeling myself slip into one, but I'm trying hard to stay out of it.)

It's hard enough to remind yourself that you need treatment when there are assholes online repeating the same messages you tell yourself. So let me repeat: Just because someone has happy moments doesn't mean they're not depressed.

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  • In my completely non-expert opinion this makes complete sense. It's like how someone who is sometimes sad doesn't necessarily have depression. The focus should be the person's most common emotional state and whether deviations from that have a special trigger (i.e. a fun date with one's husband may make a depressed personal smile for a while and a funeral may make a happy person cry).

  • In reply to Kim Z Dale:

    Exactly, Kim!

  • Oh lord, me again. Do I ever go away? ;)

  • In reply to Jenna Karvunidis:

    I hope not ever ;)

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    Plus, for some people depression follows a manic/depressive cycle, so during the manic periods they appear quite happy, but then the downslope hits, and hits hard.

  • In reply to Wayne Driscoll:

    Wayne, I had forgotten about manic/depressive cycles--I'm glad you reminded us. Yes, so much yes to what you said. It seems to be especially hard for people who have those cycles to get treatment just because it's harder to determine the pattern, sometimes.

  • Kudos on your self-awareness, this time of year is the worse! xo

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