06 May 2011

What negative emotions do you NOT experience when depressed?

by Nia, Pastor Jayne and Soledad



Nia: I was never afraid that I was going insane, which I have heard some people experience. And I realized in junior high that I am never particularly bothered by guilt. I mentioned this to my mother soon after this revelation and she said, "We noticed."

Now I think it is more accurate to say that I have no tolerance for it, or the energy to rationalize it away. So I make amends in the best way I can, or I do a trick my friend taught me about 20 years ago where you sit in front of an empty chair and talk to the imaginary offended party. Then I don't worry about it. I think my brain calculated early on that it had too much other shit to deal with and cut this out of the emotional budget.

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Pastor Jayne: This question is easy. I never felt anger. Depression took the edge off all of my emotions so I didn't feel high-highs or low-lows anymore. This is why I think anger disappeared — because it's a high-high AND a low-low simultaneously. When I began to titrate off the medication after three years, it was actually refreshing to feel a bit of anger again. And since I got off the meds once we'd moved to sunny southern California, this means I got to feel that anger right where most southern Californians experience it: on the I-5 freeway.

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Soledad: That question is super interesting but also super hard because I am not sure there are any I don't feel. I guess the best thing that I can reach for is I don't think of other depressed people with contempt, even if the triggers for their depression, or their reactions to it, are different from mine. I already know that my depression has different triggers and manifestations than yours does. And that, I'm learning, does happen. There is variation.

I guess I never really felt the need to hurt others when I'm depressed. You read about people who kill others (like that woman who drowned her sons so that she could leave her husband for the rich boyfriend who didn't like kids). I have sabotaged myself plenty, but never at the expense of someone else. I never feel rage against others just because they don't understand depression (although I've had my moments, especially with family members who poo-poo depression and think you should just "get over it").

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Images: Rembrandt van Rijn, "Self-portrait Open-mouthed," "Self-portrait with Wide-open Eyes," "Self-portrait with Knitted Brows," all 1630. {{PD-art}}.