My experience with depression: the anger of the dark side
What they don’t portray on the many commercials dealing with depression and the medications those sponsors are hawking is the feeling of frustration and anger that so often accompanies it. It has been my experience that a bona fide depression leaves one afflicted with self-importance and a notion that they are the unluckiest person in the world. Everything happens to them. Others’ misfortunes become theirs and one thought of how unfortunate you are seems to sprout tributaries that wind up in a huge, dismal river. For example: while running late for an appointment one is made to wait at an intersection for a passing funeral procession. The first thought is that “It’s just my luck. Why does this always happen to me?” The obvious irony is that this person is feeling absolutely victimized while they are watching a parade of vehicles transporting someone recently deceased to the cemetery. In addition to this backward observation, their thought process leads them from the traffic delay dilemma on to everything else that’s wrong in their life (“This is typical. Just like what happened the other day and the unpaid bills and the fight I had with my wife . . . . “) and the chain goes on and on until one sees their entire existence not unlike a train wreck; chaotic and tragic. Everything one sees is dark and hopeless at this stage and along with it comes the anger.
A very astute and talented psychologist once told me that she believed no feeling of anger existed that wasn’t born out of helplessness. After a long analysis of this statement I decided that she was correct. After all, the frustration that swells into anger is normally caused by the fact that the person is powerless to resolve whatever situation it is that is weighing on them. When I was inside of my depression I felt aggravated, unlucky and finally enraged at everything I viewed as my unfortunate “earnings”. Whether I felt that I was responsible for any given circumstance or not, I was discouraged, nervous and frightened over it and wanted only to throw off that persistent shroud with a vengeance. On other days matters just wore me down to a state of despair and melancholy.
I didn’t realize that I was in a depression during those three long years oscillating between the fiery red and deep blue emotions. One night during a period of job searching (more bad luck) I was thumbing through a book about work search methods and the ravages of unemployment that my brother had suggested to me. The chapter I was reading dealt with the depression that comes with the territory. I gazed over a definition on the page that described it as “a sadness” and that was the moment the lights came on and the monster was revealed to me. That was what I’d been feeling more than anything else. I had never recognized it for what it was.
More than once friends I had confided in had advised me to see a physician about the possibility of depression but I never believed that’s what it could be. I just felt sorrowful and wretched. After I once embraced the idea that it was in fact a sadness as the definition posed, I went to straight to see my family physician. I related everything I could to him and not surprisingly, he suggested I try an anti-depression medication. He chose Prozac to start me on and told me that I may not feel a difference for three to four weeks (time for the meds to work into my system). I don’t know if anyone reading this who has suffered a similar affliction ever experienced the same but in my case there was an enormous change in my disposition in only three days. At that point I could see everything in my “rear view mirror” clearly and realize what I’d been dealing with.
I was back.
Since that time I have learned how to avoid the thinking that takes one down that shadowed road and have somewhat mastered the necessary “detours”. I’ve discovered that I have a tendency towards that miserable brand of thought and how to recognize the symptoms when they rear their ugly, irrefutable heads.