Tag Archives: depression

Sadness and the Bottle Analogy

Shortly after new of Robin Williams’ suicide broke, a friend of mine wrote a very well-crafted, thoughtful piece about what it’s like living with depression, essentially the devil you know. I meant to post it here sooner, but for various reasons I’m late to the game.

I’m going to quote most of it, but not the entire thing. I think it really hits the nail on the head and will give you something to think about, maybe both for yourself and someone (or several people) you know.

by Alex M:

Basically it works like this: imagine every person like a bottle with the cork out.
People take from each of us but people also give back. Not everyone, though. We all lose water, sometimes. That happens to everyone I think, eventually. You feel very empty.

When your body, mind, and personality are a certain way, when you hit fizzy water bottom, you put the cork in the bottle. That bottle will not be filled. You have put the cork into it and only you can take it out. It could rain fizzy water and your bottle would be empty while everyone else’s is flowing over the top and into the sea. But it’s okay, because there are ways to fill someone’s bottle even when yours is empty. It’s still possible to create it, through words and actions. It’s possible to tip an empty bottle and have something come out.

You may never take that cork out of the bottle. Every day billions of other people are thirsty because something is going wrong for them and I can help with that! I would love to help with that. Because if I’m not taking in water then there’s extra to go around. Because everyone deserves to 艾福瑞 be happy. Not me, though. All of those tiny invisible somethings happened to me because I did something to deserve them. Because I did those things and I still wound up empty, so there’s the proof. And then what happens sometimes is the bottle breaks. Empty bottles break better than full ones.

To those who are surprised that someone so happy like Mr. Williams could be so sad: hello. We’ve met. We’ve met but despite how good you are you can’t ever be inside my head. I am an empty bottle person who has empty bottle thoughts, but I have both full and empty bottle friends. Sometimes being around you and people like you I can even take the cork out! It’s hard, though. Compliments are hard. Kind words are not easy at all and sometimes make the self-doubt greater.

It’s important that you remember that depression is an illness, and it can be mediated and moderated with the help of a treatment plan. It is important that you remember that your kind words can save someone, even if they think that their cork is in, but also that sometimes you can’t. The most important thing you can do is make sure that you give when you can and take when you can’t. I and you and we are all of us alone within ourselves but sometimes when everyone is offering water you’ll let yourself dive in. Even if you just want to float for a while.

I also came across this a while ago, which will perhaps serve as further inspiration for you:

Taking a closer look at two social concepts

I have found a new blog that has at least two really good articles, and most likely more. The blog is by a guy who goes by the name “The Ferret”. The articles are “How to be a good depressive citizen” and “The Myth Of Nobody Can Make You Feel Bad Without Your Permission”.

In the former, he talks about a post by Author Libby Bray, where she talks about having depression, but does so in a careful way, as he explains, to avoid being labelled a “Bad Depressive Citizen”.

He explains:

Now, the gold standard for a writer suffering from depression is to Not Say Anything. Spend all that sadness with your mouth firmly shut. Then, after months of hard-pent silence, as you are emerging from the depression and find yourself in a place that you can properly control yourself, you write a Very Articulate Post detailing your pain…

…but do it from a distance. Write about it in a sad, somber tone. Do not evince an ounce of self-pity. Hold this odious disease at a distance. End it with a triumphant note that yes, you too can fight back!

Because God help you if you write your depressive post when you’re actually depressed, and uncertain if you’re going to make it. That worries people. You don’t want to write about yourself in a way that gets your audience concerned about you, because then you’ll just have told a bunch of people that maybe you’re not okay. And what will they do then? How will they rest until you’re in a stable place?

That’s rude. Button that s*** up, depressive person.

He goes on to talk about how there is basically a stigma around depression and that it is really only acceptable to talk about in a certain light, which would make it a lot harder for the person with depression to cope and deal with it. It’s very interesting, and enlightening, since I have not suffered from depression but I know a few who have.

I think we definitely need to work towards breaking stigma so that people with depression can come forward and get the help they need without being made to feel worse that they can’t just “be happier”.

The other post is about the idea that you can magically choose to not let anything bother you, if you don’t want it to. In a perfect world, sure. But this isn’t a perfect world.

He writes:

Now, first off, “shrugging off other people’s insults and accusations” is a learned skill. If you’ve ever raised a kid, you know most of them don’t come pre-baked with the “Eh, whatever” switch – if you yell at them, they cry. If other kids make fun of them, they get upset. Actually placing the “Okay, they’re mocking you, but do you respect their opinion?” switch in place is a process that takes years, requires a healthy ego on the kid’s part, and isn’t 100% successful.

So expecting everyone to have that skill is kinda jerky. Admittedly, it’s a vital skill that everyone should actively cultivate – without it, abusers can emotionally manipulate you into the most awful of situations by pressing your “guilt” button whenever you complain about valid stuff.

But not everyone had nice parents. Not everyone’s discovered how to interrupt their emotions with logic. And as such, sneering, “Well, you chose to feel bad” isn’t actually true. They have yet to develop a barrier between the onrush of primal feelings and the rationality to say, “Wait, no, that’s actually something I shouldn’t feel.”

It’s funny (but not actually ‘funny’), because just a few weeks ago, I made the comment on a public forum that getting teased/bullied isn’t 100% terrible because it forces you to grow as a person and there are some pretty prolific examples of people who did just that – they took the worst that people could throw at them, and turned it into motivation to do more with their lives than those people ever will. Here’s one example. But I realized shortly after, how ludicrous it was for me to suggest that. I mean, I was bullied relentlessly growing up. I honestly only had 3 friends in grade school, and one of them turned on me later when he managed to tap into a bit of coolness himself. It took me a long time to build up my character from that. My parents didn’t help a lot. But just because I got lucky enough to grow into being at peace with myself, doesn’t mean everyone does. And we shouldn’t expect them to by default.

One more bit:

But when you say, “Well, nobody can make you feel bad without your permission!”, that sets up a world where you have no responsibility for your speech. Were you digging for weak spots, mocking to make a point? Oh, hey, well, you were trying your damndest to make them feel bad, but if it worked it’s their fault for not having sufficient defenses. It’s not 100% correlation, but when I see “Nobody can make you feel bad!” I usually find a taunting dillweed nearby, taking potshots from the brush and then claiming no responsibility.

I was just thinking the other day, that phrase “life isn’t fair, get over it”, is pretty much only true in certain instances. It shouldn’t be used as an excuse to be an inconsiderate jerk. Life can be more fair. That part is up to each of us.

I’ve realized I post a lot about social stuff on here, life lessons and wisdom, because I am trying to be a better person, and I want to share what I find that I think helps with that. I hope you get some benefit from it as well.

But The Ferret is very right in both cases, so please go read the full posts.

Related:
“When Clever Quotes Don’t Hold Up”
“Don’t be afraid to be wrong, be afraid to not know better”

Understand depression in a simple video

I’m not going to preface this with much. Based on what I’ve read and been told on the subject, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have never suffered from true depression. I’ve had my ruts, and personally I can’t recommend enough that you go talk to someone if you’re in a rut, it helped me tremendously both times I was in a major rut in my adult life. But I can’t speak for everyone, so I don’t want to presume it’s always that easy.

If you’re not sure what depression is like, here is a video from the World Health Organization, and a graphic that will hopefully help you understand better:

depression apple2There is an alternate version of this that I tried to post but it is not formatting correctly. You can see it here. The caption reads “your friends are probably feeling the same way as you are, so open up and share your sadness with each other, you will both feel better and grow together”.