The Paradox of Recovering

massive trail of destruction
I’m talking about Depression, and mental illness, in this case.
What is the meaning of all this? How did it happen!?

“Some people have a legitimate reason to feel depressed…It’s weird for people who still have feelings to be around depressed people. They try to help you have feelings again so things can go back to normal, and it’s frustrating for them when that doesn’t happen. From their perspective, it seems like there has got to be some untapped source of happiness within you that you’ve simply lost track of, and if you could just see how beautiful things are… ”
( Source, and must read to this text.)

Once you begin to move away from a situation, and are no longer therefore blinded by the immediacy of it, you reflect. It’s perfectly obvious that humans should do this, once they’re out of the danger zone, we need to formulate a plan and learn how to avoid facing that danger again. It is so important to us that we can trace back to certain events which led up to the danger, so we can avoid them. It’s an essential ingredient to intelligence, and our ability to survive as a species, against all odds.

If we ventured into some unknown territory, for example, and found that we were not prepared for the climate, or the presence of new predators, we would reflect that maybe it would be wiser to bring different tools, perhaps a bigger group for safety in numbers, etc.

But sometimes, trying to understand how you came to be in such a threatening place, is not as crystal clear and quantifiable, as we would prefer. Sometimes you can’t explain it, to yourself and/or others. This is yet another challenge, dealing with not knowing. Because when you can’t pin point a particular cause, it’s frigging scary, and damn frustrating.

“We’ve all heard the typical sentence of “how can he be depressed, he’s got everything one could ever wish for”. Unfortunately, clinical depression can affect anyone, sometimes without any triggers if the person is particularly vulnerable to it.”

This above quote is extremely fitting to my own conundrum, now. How, despite being so lucky in all you have around you, can you actually find yourself so depressed that you no longer want to live!? I am a lucky one- I have a wonderful partner who I adore, and I have the most fantastic friends surrounding me. I have a roof over my head, don’t (usually) have to go hungry, am in good physical health, have a job which I genuinely enjoy. All the right things in life, so I should want for nothing. I feel so guilty, for having obviously lost sight of all this somewhere along the way, and become a shadow of my real self.

“It’s disappointing to feel sad for no reason. Sadness can be almost pleasantly indulgent when you have a way to justify it – you can listen to sad music and imagine yourself as the protagonist in a dramatic movie. You can gaze out the window while you’re crying and think “This is so sad. I can’t even believe how sad this whole situation is. I bet even a reenactment of my sadness could bring an entire theater audience to tears.”

But my sadness didn’t/doesn’t have an obvious purpose.

My friends have all reminded me about everything I have going for me, which is well-intended and completely benevolent. But in reality, I suddenly find myself feeling even worse, because I somehow ‘didn’t deserve to breakdown’ in such a way, ‘I don’t have half of the stresses which other people have to contend with’, so why, why, why, have I overreacted to circumstances in such an intense way?

I knew before my mental health even started to slip down the slope, that I had everything around me to cause ‘happiness’. I never stopped knowing that I had all of these things, even (and especially) when my mind was at it’s utter lowest. This is why it is so hard to understand mental health, and to accept it as what it is. The whole meaning of being ‘mentally unwell’, is a testament to the fact that it doesn’t make any sense.

When you know, but cannot physically feel, the reality which exists, and therefore you cannot believe it. You can’t see it, because the emotions which we normally take for granted, are all fused and out of order. The neurotransmitters in your brain are behaving completely paradoxically- They are far from balanced or proportionate to real events.

Where normally, for example, Dopamine triggers a physiological change of state- feeling fulfilled, physically experiencing the urge to smile, to laugh, to move. Usually, Dopamine can be relied upon, particularly after exercising. It is the ‘reward’ chemical. Similarly, Noradrenaline commands your body to respond in certain ways- rapid heartbeat, sweating, suddenly experiencing a surge in energy so intense, it is near impossible to contain, which is why it’s so reliable for ‘flight or fight’ circumstances.

When communication between external and internal events, becomes contradictory and totally out of sync within the brain, that, my friend, is ‘mental illness’.
That is why your situation becomes such a confusing and nonsensical place- because it is a paradox.

This is the difference between mental health, and mental ill-health. We can all relate to being depressed, or anxious, in the usual and healthy way. Where there is a trigger, and the emotional state is just the appropriate response, kind of way. So no wonder it is so imcomprehensible to both sufferers and observers of mental illness, no wonder you cannot ‘justify’ it.

Please don’t ask me to explain ‘the reason(s)’. I’m sick of feeling sorry for confusing and worrying everybody, including myself. Now that I am finally beginning to ‘see’ again, I can’t let the guilt stage get me. The guilt for upsetting my friends and loved ones, and for alienating people. I feel perfectly bad about that already, so I don’t need any ‘help’ with this particular area.


Allie Brosh‘s blog, Hyperbole and a Half, NEEDS reading. She explains her own experiences with depression, in a perfect way. A way which constantly reassures me that i’m not just pathetic, and in a way that sheds some light onto the illness, for other people who haven’t experienced mental illness in quite the same way. It enables much more understanding, which is really useful as someone on the outside looking in, say if your friends/loved ones ever come down with inexplicable ‘Fluenza of the Mind’, shall we call it?

Plus, she tells it with pictures. Way more effective I think!


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