Thoughts on the Nature of Depression
We should every night call ourselves to an account; What infirmity have I mastered today? What passions opposed? What temptation resisted? What virtue acquired? Our vices will abort of themselves if they be brought every day to the shrift. -- Seneca
I was pondering the nature of depression. It has made me think deep about how it expresses its self in those who live with it each day of their lives. On my birthday I caught a segment on the news about how "experts" deemed my birthday the most depressing day of the year. I did not let it rain on my parade. I could see why they might say such a thing. The winter season filled with grey dead cold days weight down our spirit and drive some to the edge. Lack of sunlight, cabin fever, brain chemistry or sheer boredom can make us feel blue. Add the link between diabetes and depression and things move from bad to worse.
What constitutes depression? How does depression differ from common grief or justified regrets? The human condition is never an absolute proposition drawn in only black or white. Even at its best it is a bittersweet experience. We all experience joys and sorrows, hopes and regrets. It speaks to us about some fundamental questions: When does simple common sadness change into a damaging mental condition. When we are caught up in depression how do we fight back? How do we turn what at first appears to be a fatal flaw into a life affirming strength?
I think even the most optimistic and well adjusted of us still has those dark moments when we question our worth and goals. It is part and parcel of a life examined. People may aspire to a logical life but there is a primal side that is insoluble in logic. Residing just beneath the veneer of civilization there is a part of us that is governed by emotions and irrational hungers. It is not always pleasant to look into that place and see that part of our humanity. We react in different ways,some act out, some feel shame, some deny it exists, and some make peace with that messy irrational side of the coin we flip each day. The key is to accept who we are under the mask we wear and grow from what we learn.
We all have seen or heard that voice that tells us we are not worthy or perfect enough. When we are faced with temptation it whispers that we should just let go and not try anymore. We see our condition as a burden too heavy to bear. We feel are special, that nobody can understand the depths of the pain we feel. Our resolve weakens and we say to our self. “Life is unfair! Trying to get control of my hunger/glucose level/exercise is all so hard what is the point? Why can't I just live for today and forget about tomorrow?”
Before you reach for the torches and form a mob I have to say I have been there too. I am not point a finger in accusation. I am merely making a confession and an observation. We get in our own way and throw up obstacles, excuses and justifications for not taking responsibility for our own lives and the state of affairs we must deal with to lead a healthy life. Our untamed dark passenger sabotages our new found control and we watch knowing full well that it did not need to happen. That can lead to a double jeopardy of guilt shame, a sense of worthlessness and recriminations. This is a dangerous self-reinforcing toxic cycle that needs to be broken.
What is the answer to this problem? I have more questions than answers. I can not speak for others. Our personal answer is unique for each one of us. Some find it in religion, some in medication and psychotherapy, some in insight, introspection and acceptance. All I know is that it is a journey we must take if we want to live a happy healthy life and be able to lift up those around us along the way. No matter what path you take remember that you are worth the effort. We each are a individual answer to an infinite number of questions life asks of the universe. Find your own voice and answer and shout it out loud. Join the chorus of life and shake the world with our song. We are not alone.
There seems to be a strong link between diabetes and depression. The search for cause and effect leaves me with a conundrum. Does diabetes increase the chances for depression, or does depression increase the risk on diabetic onset? Some think it is a chicken or the egg proposition. The question drove me out to see what has been written on the subject. My research is far from perfect or exhaustive. But life is a never ending classroom and I will keep leaning and sharing.
Here are a few links that I found interesting:
- American Diabetes Association - Depression - Living with Diabetes
- Northern County Psychiatric Associates - Diabetes, Depression and Stress
- McMan's Depression and Bipolar Web - Depression and Diabetes
- WebMD Depression Raises Risk for Type 2 Diabetes
Till we meet again, live your life with passion, live it with joy, and wonder. Try to be good to yourself, and do something good for others. Remember that if you are feeling cast adrift you are not alone. Reach out and accept a helping hand. You are worthy and precious. We are here on this world to help each other.
All the best for you and yours.