MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) is something I’ve suffered from my entire life.
We always talk about MDD as a disease, but what does that mean really? Does the disease model make a difference in how something like this affects my life?
Defining it as a disease means that it has nothing to do with circumstance. It means that I feel depressed even when things are good. It means that those stupid goddamn people who offer me meaningless comfort aren’t doing anything to help because, even if I agree objectively that I have a good life, I don’t care because my brain is wired wrong.
Looking back, I had Major Depressive Disorder as a kid. I didn’t know why I was sad all the time, didn’t know why I hated myself so much, didn’t know why life was so hard—it just was.
Depression is like a weight on your back, but it’s more than that—it’s a weight choking you from behind, a weight that never moves, that never improves, that never gets better from these worthless words that other people seem to think will solve the problem.
Depression is an amplifier and a dampener. It amplifies the bad things in life, the tiniest problems. Minor inconveniences become impossible barriers. Major problems become catastrophes that cannot be overcome.
It dampens the good. Achievements are colored with a black lining. You always wonder when they will fall apart. It always seems that things fall apart. It dampens things that should bring you joy, dampens your spirits, dampens what little motivation you might have once had.
It keeps you from getting up in the morning because the more sleep you get the less suffering you have to endure. It keeps you from talking to friends and family because you’re so so so tired of bringing them down with you. It keeps you from getting the help you need because you can’t even pick up the phone and make the call.
Major Depressive Disorder and the Irony of Its Destruction
The great irony of MDD is that it destroys your ability to seek the help you need.
This is why we see so many people turn to suicide attempts, even suicide attempts that are cries for help, instead of seeking help. Seeking help is a major burden, a process we can’t even begin.
The very thing that might help us is the very thing that seems an impossible barrier. It’s so much work to just pick up the phone and try to get an appointment.
Then there are more barriers, each one more than sufficient to stop the entire process. We often need the help of friends and family to take us from one barrier to the next.
Many times, doctors don’t have appointments for weeks or months, enough time for the depression to worsen to the point that we can’t even make it to the appointment. It becomes easier to just try to kill yourself than to try to make it to these appointments.
Then, if by some miracle we actually get into an appointment, we come up against an even greater barrier—there’s basically no way to know what medication is going to help or what dosage is the right dosage. So we start slow and titrate, a process that requires yet more appointments.
One of the greatest advances in modern mental health medicine is telemedicine. Telehealth appointments reduce the burden of trying to get in the car, drive to the appointment, and then endure the months-long (and sometimes years-long) process of trying to figure out what medication is right for you.
If you’re reading all of this and think it sounds rediculous, then you’ve never experienced MDD, and frankly, you have no fucking idea what you’re talking about.
This is the real experience.
If you identify with this, if you’re feeling this right now, if you think you have MDD, then you need to seek help if you’re not already seeking it.
Their goal isn’t to talk you down from suicide.
Their goal is to help you reach the resources you need to start this difficult process.
I know it’s hard. Believe me, I know. I struggled for months to keep going to the appointments, to keep trying higher and higher doses and more and more medications.
Each medication scared the shit out of me. I never knew if the meds were going to kill my creativity and motivation and discipline (because some of them had done just that).
I never knew if the side effects were going to be more than I could handle.
But I found that it was better than the alternative to take that risk. Today, I can honestly say that none of the medications are harming me. I’m not gaining weight. I’m not losing my creativity. I’m not feeling crazy.
I feel sane again. The pain is gone.
And you know what? In the last bout of depression that I had (which lasted probably 6 years before I tried to find help), I never really felt suicidal.
I felt like I just didn’t want to exist the way I was existing. I felt like I needed a break from life, no matter how many breaks I actually got.