Dr. B's Blog

I've always been this way

Blackness ever blackening, Jenny Diski. Mosaic:

Nobody would have said so in the 1950s, but clearly I was a child who had depressive episodes of some sort. When they took me to the doctor, he told them what they already knew: that I was moody, that I suffered from emotional growing-pains, and he cheered them up by explaining that I’d grow out of it and by prescribing a bottle of some sweet syrup that was called a ‘tonic’.

I didn’t grow out of it.

There are times when you read something and it strikes you as so real, it's worth passing along. The experience of "depression" is so singular and idiosyncratic it's hard to generalize from one person's experience, but I've heard many stories similar to this that I thought it was worth posting about.

"I've always been this way."

Again, this line has been repeated many times in my office throughout my career. It often comes with a sense of hopelessness and resignation. Despite this, we continue on in therapy. Often, progress is made in fits and starts. "Success" is defined by keeping a job or merely staying alive. There are often small glimmers of hope and real breakthroughs occur, at times. Other times, the darkness sets in again and we prepare for another tough battle just to stay alive. During these times, I shift to a harm reduction approach and work to minimize the damage done to the frail house we've been working on.

When the moment passes, as it always does, we survey the new landscape and resume our course. It's tough work, for both of us, but over time, things get a little less bleak.

At least I hope they do. All we can do is try. The misery of sitting in my office is nothing to that of sitting alone at home.