The dark place

This isn’t where I expected to start blogging. There are other things I’ve pondered for years and planned to write on. This isn’t one of those.

This isn’t a place I really understand.

This isn’t somewhere anyone plans to go, but some just arrive there anyway.

This isn’t somewhere I’ve been recently, though I have been there.

Now I’ve seen so many people from different parts of my life go there, I can’t help but notice:  depression.

A friend from school. A friend from uni. A friend from church when we were at uni. A more recent friend. A close relation. The son of someone I worked for. Some men of great faith. Some people who have taught me much.

Last year my manager, the CEO, passed away.  He’s known to have been struggling with depression and severe insomnia. His death was tied to a less-common sleeping pill he’d been prescribed. For some months he’d been looking unwell, but wasn’t at all responsive to staff asking about his well-being; at work he just brushed it off and got on with business.

From the growing number of people I see struggling with depression or having done so, I can’t see a common cause, nor a “type of person” that is or isn’t susceptible.

I’ve been there. First year at uni, living away from home and, trying for the second time in my life to establish a whole new circle of friends. I don’t want to go into details this publicly, and I really can’t say whether what I went through is even the same order of magnitude as the struggles of various people I alluded to above. Maybe I got off pretty lightly.

I do remember getting caught in a mesh of negative thinking, my brain going around and around going nowhere enjoyable nor helpful.  I remember it came and went.  I remember one day realising that it’s hard to make a sensible decision while spiralling around.  I then set it in my mind that when I’m down, I would not make potentially-stupid decisions. Those should be saved for a time when I’m not down.  That seemed to help, as it took a couple of links out of the mesh.

I’ve heard of antidepressants being prescribed excessively, and far too readily. I’ve also heard strong argument that drugs aren’t the answer. On the other hand, I know of / know some people, including someone I respect greatly, who have seen benefit, and my view has softened over the years.  Apparently the “right” way with antidepressants is to take them to keep out of the “dark place” for a period, while getting help and working through the issues.  That makes a bit of sense to me.

I suspect that in many cases, “working through” means, as much as anything, re-assessing values, priorities, and perspectives. Finding a reason not to be brought down by circumstances.

But I’m no expert here. If you’re reading this and thinking  “you don’t have a clue”, well, you might be right.  If you think enlightening me could be helpful (for you, me, or the world around me), then please do.

One thing I can say with confidence: depression hits more people than I expected. I don’t like that.