The Process of Depressing
I went to my family doctor yesterday. I told him I was feeling depressed and having SSRI withdraw symptoms, even though I've been taking my pills regularly. Dizziness. Nausea. The usual.
"Is it possible to get a bad batch of Zoloft?" I asked.
"The pharmacy would say no," the doctor told me, "but I've seen it happen before."
He gave me a new prescription and told me to take it to a different pharmacy. "If that doesn't work, we'll talk about increasing the dose."
I keep thinking of a passage from Cheri Huber's The Depression Book: Depression as an Opportunity for Spiritual Growth.
Let it be known: I like Cheri Huber's work. But I've decided recently that this is more than a little irresponsible. Huber goes on to write that, through mindfulness:
"You will begin to see the steps you take that lead to self-rejection and depression. You will notice your fears and assumptions and conditioned responses to circumstances. It will begin to become clear that depression is something you DO, not some larger-than-life ogre to which you are a victim."
I get it. There's good, solid research proving the efficacy of mindfulness-based stress reduction and cognitive behavior therapy. I've read the studies. But not once have I read anyone acknowledge that mindfulness meditation can sometimes backfire. At least it does for me. When I'm feeling depressed, the meditation worsens my mood considerably. Not because I'm brooding, (though sometimes I'm brooding) but because it's painful to be depressed.
When people are in pain from a physical ailment, say rheumatoid arthritis or a shingles outbreak, we don't expect them to find peace through mindfulness. We give them pain killers and other medical treatments. But there's this lingering assumption that because certain styles of thinking can lead to depression, all depression must be caused by thinking, and therefore must be cured by different thinking. Or, at the very least, a broader awareness of one's thinking.
I'm 33 years old. And I've come to accept that my ongoing depression, though this is not true for everyone, has very little to do with my thinking. Actually, it is a larger-than-life ogre to which I am a victim.
It would have been helpful, if, twenty years ago, all those books I purchased in an effort to fix myself acknowledged this and didn’t make me feel guilty for not finding any solution or solace in those many miserable moments I spent in quiet contemplation.