I now don’t believe that depression can just happen, out of the blue. I used to believe it. But then I used to believe that Freud’s theories on parent-related issues were a load of rubbish. I now don’t.
The first psychiatrist I saw in 1997 told me that, when an adult suddenly appears to become depressed, in 90% or cases, it is linked to psychological trauma in childhood. He also said this of Postnatal Depression (aka Postpartum Depression) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
He said many of his patients are adamant that they have never suffered from depression before, but that he nearly always managed to find the root cause in childhood, after interviewing them extensively.
So what if the real figures are 100%? What if childhood depression, (IMO the result of Autistic Spectrum Disorder) is the cause of all periods of depression in adults? And therefore ASD being the initial cause of all adult depression and anxiety, including Postnatal Depression / Postpartum Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
I have danced with depression since I was a very young child. Depression in adulthood didn’t just happen with me. (Be relieved I have spared readers the details of my childhood depression. The post is written, but as yet unpublished, as it ended up being more of a huge rant than anything else, but good therapy).
I have known a lot of people with depression, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, and after hearing many of their backgrounds, my former shrink’s belief seems to hold up. I once worked with a woman who confided in me that she had recently had a breakdown. (Up to that time I thought a nervous breakdown was only when you trash a room or violently attack someone, because fictional character Arthur Fowler had had a breakdown on British soap Eastenders, and he trashed his living room).
When my co-worker told me that her breakdown had involved lots of crying and feeling worthless, I realized I had had many breakdowns, but was able to identify the large breakdowns as feeling suicidal. This woman was very shy and quiet. You don’t just get like that. She would’ve been that way since childhood.
The other day there was a feature in a magazine about people who suddenly became suicidal after the collapse of their marriage/business/bereavement/finances etc. In all the stories told it was assumed by those around them that the people had never had depression at all before in their lives.
Do you think most people with a history of depression want to broadcast it? Most of these people don’t have a formal diagnosis, and as long as that remains the case; they can live in denial and think of themselves as sane and normal. This is why oficial statistics are so far off. We human beings are so good at hiding our true feelings we don’t even know ourselves how bad our unconscious minds are feeling.
I worked with another woman who was convinced that the suicide of her husband of nearly 12 years was due only to his recent financial troubles. She found out months after his death that almost his whole family had suffered from depression, and that his paternal grandfather had committed suicide at almost the same age. So not only could he have been genetically predisposed to suicide, but it is also common for people to follow parents’ and grandparents’ life decisions, because from a young age we are conditioned to believe their behavior is relatively normal. That’s why so many people follow their descendents’ career paths; it’s what they know.
As well as my own personal struggle with depression, I have always watched people, and read people. I sometimes get it wrong, but generally, I know people. I know for example that people who treat others badly cannot possibly be happy – under any circurmstances. They have some form of depression, anxiety and/or deep insecurities.
Most people who are genuinely happy in their own skin, who have self respect, who have never been touched by depression don’t suddenly want to commit suicide, no matter what the trigger is. They can get depressed, sure, when they suffer adversity, like anyone. But being depressed doesn’t mean you have the clinical mental illness; Depression.
If you have Depression, it is most likely a condition you had nearly all your life, and is part of your make-up. That is not to say every day will be unbearable. Far from it. It is a manageable condition with the right information, and the right action. If you can manage it effectively, then it is possible to get to the stage where you only actually feel depressed when you are over-tired.
They say “Shit happens – it’s how we deal with it.”
People who have never suffered with depression are able to deal with it, a whole lot better than people with a history of depression. It is rare that there will be depression without anxiety. And it’s the anxiety that is often present during social situations.
Depression (including suicidal feelings) lies dormant until environmental factors bring it to the surface. Feeling suicidal might be triggered by the breakup of a marriage or by going bankrupt, or by the death of a loved one, but that’s all they are: Triggers.
The result for many, of having any ASD, is feeling embarrassment at making mistakes, fast-growing inconfidence, and self-loathing for letting others push them around. These are the seeds of depression and anxiety and they happen when a person is very young.
This is why some people only develop speech impediments several years after learning to talk (as highlighted in the film The King’s Speech). Their confidence in talking to people plummets after repeatedly making mistakes. Most newborns*, whether on the autistic spectrum or not, are usually confident. Inconfident people have had their confidence battered out of them by other people or their own paranoia on their journey through life.
(* Some newborns can be inconfident, and they are often the smaller and less feisty one in a set of multiple births.)
The seeds of depression might not necessarily fully develop into Depression and Anxiety. If the person has a happy home life with no living in fear on a regular basis, they could side-step both completely. They might struggle with certain congnitive processes, but it won’t be a huge problem.
If you have depression, that doesn’t mean you are destined to be depressed every day. I let mine out every now and again for a good bawl. And my emotions are on standby when I listen to great music. I honestly don’t think you can appreciate some music fully if you have never known pain.
Depression, anxiety, frustration and despair is what makes us apppreciate the beautiful things in life. Don’t you find a lot of your favorite movies are made by people who are no strangers to depression?
Favorite art, favorite music, favorite books?
“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.”
― Bob Dylan
I feel that if you can survive depression by managing it, you will find that some aspects of it are a blessing. How can you recognise beauty and happiness for what it is, when it is all you have ever known? And how can you learn anything if everything you undertake goes well?
But depression doesn’t just happen. It is part of you. Just make sure you control it, not it control you.