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J.R. Buchanan


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On Depression and Mania

I'm proud of my son. He lives with bipolar like I do, but he hasn't let it slow him down. He's the head programmer at a software company in Indianapolis (we live in Kokomo, IN, about an hour north of Indianapolis) and he's a talented musician, and he blogs as well. His post today was so good, I just had to reblog it. It's one of the best descriptions of depression and mania I've seen.

Here it is.

Ian Buchanan

I don't think most people really understand what Depression is. I have heard lots of people say things like, "When I get depressed, I don't let it get me down. Just go to a bar and get drunk like everyone else. You'll be fine." If all it takes to get you out of your funk is a few drinks, then you don't have Depression.

Depression isn't sadness. Depression isn't just feeling sorry for yourself, either. The Depression I know is the most terrible monster I have ever faced. It takes every ounce of strength I have to get out of bed in the morning. I want to die, but I just don't have the energy to do anything about it. I start to envy the dead. They don't have to deal with anything. They just lay there, unaware of the world around them, because they're no longer alive. Dead people have it good.

Depression sucks the color out of everything. By that I don't mean I literally cannot see color. It just feels like there's no color in the world around me, like everything is gray. Nothing interests me. The things I once enjoyed now seem like too much of a bother. It takes too much energy to do the things I like to do. I can't write software, because I can't come up with any ideas for programs to write. I can't think of anything. My mind is blank, yet I feel this overwhelming sense of dread just hovering over my body like a cloud. The thought of having to interact with another human being fills me with dread. I can't stand to look at anyone, because I'm afraid they'll see all the horrible things about me that I see. All I can think about is death and dying, and I want to die so badly, but killing myself would be entirely too much work to follow through with.

This description barely scratches the surface of what Depression truly is. I cannot think of the words to describe the overwhelming sense of dread and hopelessness that envelopes me. It is truly an awful experience, and anyone who thinks that Depression is no big deal has never suffered true Depression. Most people equate Depression with feeling sad. Depression is the opposite of that. My Depression contains no sadness. It just overwhelmingly fills me with a sense of dread and hopelessness. These thoughts and feelings crowd out anything else. Joy is an impossible achievement. I will never laugh again. I will never feel happy again. The best I can hope for is feeling numb, becoming numb to the world around me. Sadness can't even touch me. This is what I know about Depression.

My Depression doesn't last forever, though. After about two to three months of feeling like that, I'll start to feel happy again. I'll have all kinds of ideas for software I want to write. I speak ten thousand words per minute. Everyone else seems so slow compared to me. It feels like my brain has suddenly turned on this amazing thirty-two core processor with ten terabytes of memory. Everyone else has a 486 processor from the 90s. I can think circles around everybody else. In the amount of time it takes the average person to decide what they want for breakfast, I've already solved a thousand math problems in my head. That is what mania feels like. It's the ultimate high. I have so much energy, but no patience for anyone. I get agitated easily. This only lasts a couple of weeks, however, and then Depression gets custody of me for another month or two.

I've tried every medication known to man, and nothing seems to work with my Depression. I never get used to Depression. It's too powerful and massive. When Depression wraps its arms around you, there is no escape. Drugs only numb the feelings of overwhelming dread, but the hopelessness sticks around. The hopelessness aspect of Depression is immune to drugs. Hopelessness is Depression's ultimate weapon, and Depression has no moral qualms about beating you over the head with it. Depression isn't just a sad feeling. It's a deity that has the power to destroy your life, if you let it.

Ian's site may be found at angryhuman.com

What are your experiences with mania and depression? Your moods or those of someone close to you. Let us all know in the comments!

As usual, I'll post future updates to my Facebook and Twitter pages. Feel free to follow or friend or message me.

mental illness, mental health, bipolar, depression, mania

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