“What Are You Depressed About?”

Depression. Such a misunderstood term.

I have encountered many well-meaning folks that believe they understand the nature of depression. Non-depressive people cannot understand what it means to suffer from this disease any more than a blind person can understand the color red, or a deaf person Mozart.

I believe most people think depression and sadness are the same. This belief is given away with a single question: what are you depressed about?

The words “depression” and “sadness” are not synonyms.

The difference can be explained simply as this:

Sadness is a temporary lowering of mood. Depression is a chronic condition.

Sadness can be a symptom of depression, however, it is not depression itself.

People who do not suffer from depression cannot truly understand this…and we should not try to get them to understand all the causes of depression and what in means to live with it.

Rainer Maria Rilke, speaking of living with “solitude” (what he calls living with the artist gift) says this:

 Avoid providing material for the drama, that is always stretched tight between parent and children; it uses up much of the children’s strength and wastes the love of the elders, which acts and warms even if it doesn’t comprehend Don’t ask for any advice from them and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.

~From Letters To A Young Poet

I feel we should treat those around us the same way. Why burden them with that which they cannot understand? I often feel the need to explain that there is no answer to the question “what are you depressed about.”

I cannot answer the question… seeking the answer with them would burden them with too much grief. Those that know my story have to walk around with it in their heads…and that is too much for them to bear. It is not fair to them.

A better question is, “how are you coping with your depression?”

That one I can answer.


About ~Drew

I am a survivor of childhood torture. Each day, I put one foot in front of the other, moving forward. To do any less would spell my own destruction. My music/poetry/prose deal with the devastating effect of this kind of abuse on a human being: me. My experiences/thoughts/ideas/misconceptions are exposed here for all to see. Here. I am lain bare, naked, hidden only be the cloak of anonymity.
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6 Responses to “What Are You Depressed About?”

  1. Ellie says:

    Very well said! I am currently trying to deal with my depression, and how it is effecting my relationship with my bf. He is so kind and caring, and tries so hard to help me, and it just makes me feel even more guilty. Sometimes I just end up telling him I am fine, because I don’t want to get into all the different feelings (or non-feelings) I am feeling at the moment. I feel guilty as well that I am even depressed and that he has to put up with it….I feel like it’s not fair to him. I like the “how are you coping with your depression?” so much better. It already assumes that it is something we cope with, not something that has happened and needs to be fixed or resolved or thought through to the end.

    • ~Drew says:

      My dear wife also lives with life-long depression…. we understand when the other iss “going down.” It is terrible to watch her suffer, knowing what it is life for me. We give each other a lot of room during those times. When it gets too bad for her, I will then step in and try to convince her to seek assistance. For the most part, just BEING there for each other is enough. Perhaps trying to explain to you bf what you need during those times (not to be fixed, for instance) will assuage your guilt and help him cope too. =) Keep Walking Forward Brave Soul!!!!

  2. Ellie says:

    Reblogged this on Making My Medicine and commented:
    I stumbled upon this post today while doing my daily blog reading, and it really hit home. I wanted to make sure I rebloged it to my paige, so I could go back and read now and then, to remember how to deal with impact my depression has on the ones I love.

  3. i lived with depression for years, so i totally understand what you are saying. thankfully i am free of it now. the comment i hate most about depression is, people say it is self centered…that tics me off..but i plan to blog about that in the future.
    thinking of you as you struggle with it.

  4. Very, very well expressed. People I love have suffered from severe depression; I myself have only had brief periods of relatively mild depression (included post-partum depression), but I always greatly value any perspective that will assist me in providing support to those I care about. You raise many interesting points – the question ‘what are you depressed about’ has always angered me as it shows how little people understand it, but your proposed “how are you coping with your depression?” is a very good one to remember and suggest to others. I often feel sad for those around me who have suffered far more than I have in their life experiences, but I don’t feel burdened by it – it increases my capacity for empathy. So I am very glad you are able to share your experiences in some safe places, and I suppose one of the benefits of a blog is that others can choose to read as they will, so the question of burdening disappears…

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