Monday, June 17, 2013

The Stephen Fry Thing

If you want me to tell you, with utter contempt, to fuck off then don't throw any complicated insult at me. Just wait until my depression is biting and patronisingly suggest I just "pull myself together".

Putting aside any ancient debate about the mind-body duality, I sense that the seat my my Self, the essence of who I am lies in my brain. It resides in the physical structures, the incalculable connections of matter and electricity, bathed in a complexity of barely-grasped chemicals. And yet....out of this physical mess arises that most potent of things – "me", and all that the Self creates. The sublime to the profane, the highest creativity to the basest depravity. It is a miracle.

And we all have struggles within ourselves. In many ways, each of us lives in perpetual conflict. There are private wants and public demands, moral uncertainties and intellectual clashes. What we may glibly refer to as "the Self" may be more akin to a maelstrom than an oasis of serenity that moves through the world. This is what it means to be human.

Sometimes these conflicts can cause us pain, make us sad. We resolve the issue, bury it, or walk away from it. Such sadness is but an outgrowth of the individual struggling through a complicated and sometimes difficult world.

And this is a far cry from depression. This is not a "war of the Self", it is almost a war against the Self. For the essence of who we are, that delicate substrate of chemicals from which Self emerges becomes tainted, out of balance. This is depression, the illness.

And I sense its approach. I have always pictured it as some type of many tentacled Leviathan, a Beast that slumbers deep in my brain and I feel the foretelling when it awakes and opens its malevolent eye. It is an intangible cloud that appears on the horizon of my consciousness. And sometimes it bites. Hard. The Leviathan injects darkness across every fold of my cerebellum, bathing the whole of my vista with a sense of despair that makes my very bones ache, every cell in my body pleading for release from an unsourced pain.

This is depression. It is an illness.

81 comments:

  1. At least you know it will pass. And it will pass.

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  2. You don't know that, though, not at the time. At the time you aren't thinking straight and it feels as though it has always felt that way and always will.

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  3. Think of this leviathan as a black dog, as you become aware of its approach construct a big stick from within and beat its mangy arse back to the far corners from which it originates. Don't feed it nor encourage its approach by thinking of it, just take up your metaphysical stick and smite it (repeatedly). You have work to do, otherwise what's the purpose of all of this so far?, don't become sidetracked by the dog, smite the good smite with all your might.
    Regards,
    IV

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  4. The trouble is that depression takes every bit of you in its uber negative grip.

    The fighting back bit, it takes along with the rest.

    Thankfully, you're dependent on the prison health system no longer. So fight for the best help you can obtain. I am sure that you have more chance against this dreadful disease now that you're out.

    Be lucky & best wishes
    Geoff

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  5. May the strength/s you have shown in the past reflect in the rest of your future.

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  7. Agree with Darby and take strength from all your wellwishers.

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  8. I am not sure depression is an illness, I have had a lot of experience of it myself. It is more a reaction to difficulties. I hope you feel better soon Ben, one way out of depression is to note your how your own shortcomings or faults have caused harm and then try and make up for it. I know and understand that in your case you cannot bring back the boy you killed, and so that is very difficult for you and all round, for all those involved; but to prevent yourself getting into further misery, it is important that you carefully monitor your own behaviour towards others. If you cause harm to others, and it is brought to your attention, don't run away, but go back to that person or those people and make amends. Good luck.

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  9. Sophie. With all due respect, this is wrong (and rather irritatingly condescending). Depression IS an illness and is NOT a reaction, far from it, though events may bring it to the fore. Perhaps your experience is 'sadness' or 'upset' or similar; but a long-term deprivation of serotonin IS an illness, though that's just the start of it. The closest I can come to something along your way of thinking is that it is a lens through which difficulties are viewed, and from perceptions come real feelings; catasrophisation of those 'difficulties' tends to occur, until they merge into a huge looming back cloud, which was there in the first place. That sometimes-latent, sometimes-looming cloud IS depression; always-there, sometimes to the fore and sometimes hidden or intentionally temporarily buried. It isn't 'cured' through making amends or though medication, though both help, and there are many other things to assist. It is not only an illness; it is one of the most pervasive and common forms of illness. I agree that behaviour should be monitored, awareness of potential damage to others (of any sort) be heightened, yes; and amends help, post-failure of mindfulness. However, I find this response loaded with misconceptions which help nobody and enhance an easy stigma. Unfortunate to say the least. Best, tara @tarakatesanders

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  10. Spot on, Tara. Depression doesn't select its target according to certain criteria; it doesn't just affect those of us with difficult marriages, money worries or other problems. I spend much of my working week trying to reassure women that postnatal depression IS an illness, not something they've brought upon themselves. Most sufferers feel extremely guilty, and worry that they are letting everyone down. So your suggestions are not only misguided, they are likely to add to the person's burden by reinforcing the idea that he/she is worthless, useless and of no value to their loved ones. And 'amends'? How can anyone make amends if they struggle to get up, get dressed, or get through the day? People with depression need to feel LESS guilt, not more. Amends can be made once their mood has lifted and they can see things in perspective again.

    And nobody should have to make amends for having been depressed in the first place.

    Please rethink your stance on depression, as your current one has the potential to upset, not only those you purport to feel empathy towards, but also all those who care about them, and don't want to see them brought even lower by someone who is too ignorant to look past her own prejudice.

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    1. And we all need to monitor our own behaviour; we all need to make amends to someone. None of us goes through life without hurting others and doing wrong. But in order to realise and recognise this, we need to be in good emotional health; otherwise the guilt and regret and shame will flourish like weeds and choke off every positive emotion. If I were currently experiencing low mood, and I came across yourkind of reasoning, I think I'd become suicidal...

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    2. Clearly you won't listen to reasoned argument based on medical facts, but would rather hang on to your own (incorrect) definition and understanding of depression. Therefore, bugger off and do us all a favour eh?

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  11. Psychiatry doesn't treat depression as an illness, although there are different sorts.

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  12. How generous of you to concede that there are 'different sorts'; clearly you are a very intelligent and highly educated individual, as well as thoughtful and empathetic. You might like to know that according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 'The fact is there comes a point at which depression is much more like an illness than anything else'. Like an illness, depression can make you unfit for work, and can stop you taking pleasure in everyday activities. Like an illness, depression can have physical, mental and emotional signs and symptoms. And like an illness, depression can respond to medication. Unlike 'being upset', which is something else entirely. Like an illness, depression can kill. In any case, your comments are helpful to no one, and has the potential to make things much worse for someone. As Ben states, depression is an illness. Who are you to argue? Who are you to tell sufferers of depression that they are wrong, that it isn't an illness, that they simply need to examine their conduct and make amends to people? I almost get the impression you're trying to push someone over the edge by adding to their burden of guilt and shame. Well, stop it. It's not funny, it's not clever, and it sure as hell isn't helpful.

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  13. Oh get lost, why attack me so much? I have stated,and am entitled to my opinion. If you read what I said,, I do and have suffered from depression myself.

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  14. I'm not attacking you, I'm arguing against your silly statements. And having suffered from depression doesn't entitle you to spout harmful nonsense. I have suffered from depression; so have lots of people. You don't even try to come up with anything sensible. And 'Get lost'? How meaningful. How constructive. How mature.

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    1. Everyone is entitled to an opinion anonymous, you are being quite pathetic.

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    2. Another great argument! Really convincing. Ok, you win hands down; I'm powerless against your superior brainpower. Depression is clearly not an illness - your forensic intelligence has persuaded me that you really do know best.

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    3. What a load of pompous nonsense; 'forensic intelligence'!!! What are you going on about? Such a lot of hot air, honestly, its not worth getting your knickers in a twist over what the nature of depression is, as I am sure the debate will continue long into the future just as it has been a subject for debate way back in the past. Why be so sarcastic and uptight?

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    4. Because it annoys me when someone truly ignorant and self-righteous can't be bothered to come up with any reasoned argument, resorting instead to stupid replies like, Get lost or You're pathetic. I may well be pathetic, but by choosing to name-call in lieu of attempting a defence of your viewpoint/opinion you admit that you've lost the argument, and that you weren't interested in a debate to begin with. And don't flatter yourself you've put my knickers in a twist; my underwear is perfectly happy and comfortable.

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    5. Why not tell you to get lost when you consistently show improper judgement and are simply out for a bitch fight? (which incidentally you have proved that it is indeed the case once again by goading and stating that someone is "truly ignorant and self-righteous") Try looking in the mirror on that one, and you certainly sound flustered despite your claims to be the opposite.

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  15. I am also unconvinced that depression can be classified as an illness, so on this point I'd have to respectfully disagree with the blog author. It seems to me that it is really a collection of low or dysfunctional feelings that can be overcome by either accepting the feelings and making adjustments or by modifying attitudes and behaviours. I am suspicious of this trend for mass prescription of medicines for what are natural feelings, often in reaction to an insane and unnatural society, but natural nonetheless.

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    1. What about those people who find that the correct medication really does lift their mood to the point where they are able to address their problems effectively? Those in the grip of depression are often incapable of making adjustments or modifying behaviours. In fact, if you ARE able to do those things, you aren't actually depressed in the first place...

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    2. When you use the expression, "Those in the grip of depression", you are just using a verbal style to describe someone's particularly intense feelings. If something bad happens to me, or if I am just a generally melancholy person, I could say "I am in the grip of depression", but it's still just a series of feelings. Whether I can think my way out of it or I have to drug my way out of it doesn't make the feelings any less real. Either way, depressive feelings are real, but the question is whether there is such a thing as depression in the sense of a classifiable illness, or whether we are in fact being hoodwinked into believing there is, both to address our own social and emotional immaturity and to serve the interests of people who want to push medicinal drugs.

      I think the burden of proof is on you here, as you are the one making the positive assertion that feelings are an 'illness' that should be 'treated' by drugging people.

      Please feel free to elaborate with your evidence-based arguments.

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  16. Ladies, above... crumbs, did I start 'that' by disagreeing with Sophie? If so, then apologies are due to the writer of the blog - this is way to important a subject for a catfight. (apologies if my assumption that you are women is incorrect). I maintain my position and agree with Anonymous (the first one...) and find that the old 'I've suffered from depression' claim holds little added weight when bandied as a title ('I'm in that club, therefore my opinion is important', kind of attitude); as in some instances it's a self-diagnosed 'condition' which is indeed may often be a cumulation of circumstances which one would not, as has been pointed out, be able 'normally' to address when in full grip of the depression which is more the root than the manifestation of reactions. And so. Let's be kind, yes?... words can hurt... personal insults can be more damaging than one might imagine. It is this... an emotional feeling... that matters, not the label given it, nor who gives the label. Just saying. Happy day! Best, tara @tarakatesanders PS - I am SO going to nick the 'forensic intelligence' sarcasm... :)

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    1. You're welcome, Tara! And it's not a catfight as far as I'm concerned; I stand by all I've said above. I'm not (just) after scoring points; I take Ben's words seriously, and find this topic worth my time and effort. It's a subject that concerns us all.

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    2. Hi Tara, it was never a title of mine to say that I have suffered from depression; I mentioned it to show that my opinion on the matter (in my first contribution) applied equally to me, as it did to anyone else.

      I hope you enjoy using your new found term 'forensic intelligence' in whatever context you find useful. Although it does strike me as appropriate for use by or of M15 or the CIA. :) jus sayin.

      Delete
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  18. You're wrong; when I use the words 'in the grip of depression' (which I do advisedly, on purpose, and deliberately), I don't mean 'someone's intense feelings'; I mean 'in the grip (sic) of depression, where depression is synonymous with an illness, a condition or a set of signs and symptoms including (but not limited to): serious and significant low mood that does not respond to 'distractions' such as leisure activities, work or the company of other human beings, protracted feelings of worthlessness, apathy, and hopelessness, persistent thoughts of suicide, sometimes accompanied with suicidal ideation, inability to think clearly or take rational action to improve one's situation, extreme tiredness, lassitude, neglect of personal hygiene, lack of appetite, lack of libido, lack of pleasure and enjoyment of everyday activities, and several others.

    Depression is not a feeling; it isn't something the sufferer has any control over. If someone can 'snap out' of a mood through their own volition, or if their mood is improved through doing enjoyable things, they are not experiencing depression. One of the hallmarks of depression is the inability to distinguish between trivial problems and serious ones; everything becomes unbearably complicated, and the sufferer feels emotionally paralysed and overwhelmed. You can't 'cheer up' a depressed person by taking them to the seaside or giving them good advice; they can't pull themselves together any more than a diabetic can get their pancreas working through sheer willpower.

    And I find the expression 'drugging one's way out' extremely offensive; would you describe a diabetic as drugging themselves out of their symptoms? Do people with faulty thyroid glands drug themselves out of a goitre? Part of the problem is that as a society, and as individuals, we ascribe much less significance to emotional and mental illness than we do to purely physical illness (which in itself a stupid distinction, as our minds and bodies are interwoven such that all physical illness affects our emotions, and emotional illness has physical manifestations). Hence the tendency to be dismissive of antidepressants (which are literally lifesavers to many people), to call them 'happy pills' and to insinuate (or state bluntly) that people are taking pills as a quick fix solution to sad feelings, rather than working their way through to a 'solution'.

    Antidepressants do not make you happy, or put a smile on your face; what they do is elevate your mood, restoring your pleasure in everyday activities, enabling you to function, and giving you the boost you need to examine your situation and decide what needs to happen to improve your future wellbeing.

    Take a look at these:

    http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Depression/Pages/Introduction.aspx

    http://www.mind.org.uk/mental_health_a-z/7980_understanding_depression?gclid=CK_OuPSM9bcCFSXHtAodYkgAVg

    http://www.depressionalliance.org/help-and-information/what-is-depression.php

    There are lots more; I suggest you take the time to read up on this topic. It's not helpful for people suffering from depression to be told that they should just stop being depressed; we still have a very long way to go before we achieve parity between physical and mental/emotional illnesses. I think Ben is brave for speaking out about his condition, given the stigma that attaches to mental illness in this country.

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    1. With respect, no-one on this thread has told anyone to 'just stop being depressed'

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    2. Anonymous @1:04pm

      This ^^ (as I believe the smart-set say).

      Depression has the same biochemical and pathological roots as every other illness. It is simply that because it affects brain function it produces the effects that it does, and what might be termed 'negative life events' are merely triggers of an underlying, pre-existent condition. The notion that it is otherwise is possibly a hangover from the ages when it was generally thought that mental disturbances were the result of possession by evil spirits. This - along with the false dichotomy between 'body' and 'soul' - leads people in general to not consider psychiatric illnesses as 'real' or 'proper' illnesses which are as susceptible to scientifically-based and -proven treatment as any other.

      As a depressive and diabetic, I salute the whole of your third paragraph.

      Of course, some people would prefer to spend their time dropping dark hints about the evils of 'Big Pharma'...

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    3. People HAVE suggested that depression can be overcome through willpower or atonement, which is practically the same as telling them to stop being depressed. So yes, with respect, I stand by that statement.

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    4. Where was that anonymous? I can't see a comment anywhere telling anyone to stop being depressed, or even that depression can be overcome by willpower. My comment was clear, that in order to not make himself even more miserable etc and then I gave my advice to Ben which was based on plenty of research and my own experience. Perhaps you read more into my comment than was there? As well as disagreeing with it, which is fine but for the silly sarcasm, and confusion, due to your comments being anonymous along with other anonymous comments which I presume you distance yourself from now.

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    5. Anonymous @1.04 p.m.

      1. You assume that I think depression is not an illness, when in fact I have not made that statement. I have stated that I am unconvinced that depression is an illness, which is not the same as saying that I think it isn't.

      2. Also, I am not suggesting that physical and mental health are mutually-exclusive. I have no doubt that depressive symptoms have a biological basis of some kind. To me, the notion is self-evident, since all feelings, moods and behaviours have some biological basis. It needn't follow that there is an illness called depression or that normal human feelings - sadness, hopelessness, melancholy - should be treated using artificial chemicals.

      3. You state: [quote]"And I find the expression 'drugging one's way out' extremely offensive; would you describe a diabetic as drugging themselves out of their symptoms?[unquote]

      Yes, I would say that a diabetic is drugging themselves out of their symptoms, or to prevent those symptoms. That is because, literally, that is what they are doing. Likewise, a person with depression who uses anti-depressants or other medications is, literally, drugging themselves out of their symptoms. That is the literal truth (though whether the drug actually works or does more harm than good is another matter). I think the reason you say you are offended by this is because you know it is true and for you it is not a welcome truth.

      4.You also state: [quote]"Depression is not a feeling; it isn't something the sufferer has any control over."[unquote]

      Depression is a feeling, or the term has no practical meaning. The feelings are controlled by the sufferer, either by thinking or by drugging (the latter assumes that the drug is safe and efficacious, which is a whole area of debate in itself). The real question here is whether we are talking about natural and perfectly normal depressive moods and feelings (i.e. "I am depressed") or an adverse medical condition that needs treatment and can be rigorously understood to be 'depression' (i.e. "I have depression"). Nothing you have put forward either in your posts or in the links you have provided establishes that what you call 'depression' is anything more than a collection of feelings that are normal, but that in some people can be specially debilitating. Simple use of the term 'illness' is not persuasive for me because it's a word that can and is applied in this context to almost any adverse feelings.

      5. Even if, let's say, the issue is only semantic and 'depression' can be considered an illness, it needn't follow that the condition should be treated routinely with anti-depressants or similar drugs. Anti-depressants are a mood-altering drug - a narcotic - and it is inarguable that there are significant social, political and business pressures to make depressive symptoms treatable quickly using these pills. How far are people's feelings and consciousness being manipulated by these drugs? Do they alter the brain permanently? Do they result in dependency and deeper psychotic behaviour? How many people going through the criminal courts have been prescribed them? Has there been a public inquiry or at least a serious independent scientific investigation into anti-depressants?

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    6. 1. The 'you're only denying this so vehemently because you know it's true' is a really lame thing to say.

      2. At least I provided genuine references; all you've done is restate your personal view. Burden of proof?

      .3. Antidepressants are not narcotics.

      4. I don't debate conspiracy theorists; next you'll be telling me it's the chemtrails. Or the Illuminati.

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    7. No, wait - it's Obama! He's the antichrist! Which begins with the same word as antidepressants! There; I rest my case. Don't forget to polish your tin hat. ;-b

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    8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    9. I sense I am in a discussion with some quite immature people, but let me respond:-

      1. You are quick to take offence, which suggests you do not like to have your views challenged.

      2. The references you provided are useless to this discussion and prove nothing. The NHS information page states depression is an illness. That does not prove or demonstrate it is. NHS propaganda is not peer-reviewed. The other two links were to mental health advocacy pages, and did not contain, refer to, or cite peer-reviewed publications or evidence.

      3. Anti-depressants are narcotic in the most literal sense. They are mood-altering psychoactive substances that have the effect of changing, often numbing, feelings and emotional responses. The reason you - and most medical and legal professionals - baulk at the term 'narcotic' in this context is due to its association with illegal drugs. You are understandably reluctant to accept the facts of what anti-depressants really are. You prefer to dress your arguments up in sensitive, emollient language. This acts as a protection against most people who tend to be gullible and accept your points at face value. The reason you find me 'offensive' is that I can see through it and I am not so easily convinced.

      4. I am indeed a conspiracy theorist in the sense that any rational person might be a conspiracy theorist and seek a range of explanations, including conspiracy, for what happens in society. What I am not is a conspiracist. I do not see conspiracies round every corner, and unlike you and your friends on here (who are nearly-all, strangely, 'Anonymous') I do not argue dishonestly and accuse others of making arguments they have not made. I repeat that I have not said that depression is not an illness. I have said that I am not convinced that it is. Your juvenile, prating style of arguing is hardly likely to convince me on the matter. Nor am I convinced that prescribing anti-depressants (drugging) is a suitable solution. And at least as far as anti-depressants are concerned, it seems there are some in the medical profession who may agree with me:-

      This quote is from Professor Steve Field, the chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, in 2010:-

      [quote]"More people are being diagnosed with depression, but many of them would be treated better by having access to talking therapies, especially those with mild to moderate depression. I'm concerned that these people are being treated with medication unnecessarily.

      "Talking therapies are just a good [as medication] for treating mild depression, and CBT can be just as good for more serious depression. But the provision for these therapies hasn't been good," said Field. However, more GPs were gaining more of a choice between tablets and talking treatments."[unquote]

      And here is a quote from Peter Byrne, the director of public education at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, also in 2010:-

      [quote]"The optimistic view is that more people are being uncovered and treated. My concern is that people with mild depression should not be put on antidepressants."[unquote]

      Consultant psychiatrist Tim Kendall, director of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, in 2010:-

      [quote]"Antidepressants are offered too frequently in primary care because the waiting lists for alternative treatments are too long. Doctors need to think hard about putting people on these drugs because they can be hard to get off and have significant side-effects."[unquote]

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    10. Not immature, Tom, just incredibly witty. I don't think you're used to being teased, are you?

      And I should hope you ARE able to recognise the comments I've written; I am aware of exactly which are mine, and which are by other Anonymouses (sic). And I promise I'm not submitting lots of comments purporting to be from several different persons.

      And your quotes are no less spammy than mine; they are just statements of opinion. No more valuable or convincing than any other. Some of them state the bleedin' obvious ('they have significant side-effects', with no relevance whatsoever.

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  19. I think my judgement is quite sound, actually. You still haven't been able to come up with any rational arguments; all you can do is try to insult me. I'm not after a fight; I'd much rather have a serious debate. You're obviously not up for that, though, which is a shame.

    I hope you've got good support as you battle your own depression; it's a very isolating and lonely illness.

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    1. No, I just do not wish to debate with you and that is actually my choice. I have quite clearly stated what my opinion is about it and I will not be goaded into a worthless 'debate' about it. You have your opinion, I have mine, there is no need to snap around the place with silly sarcasms.

      I do and have suffered from depression but it really is no-one else's business unless I choose it to be.

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    2. by the way, remember this comment anonymous? "Clearly you won't listen to reasoned argument based on medical facts, but would rather hang on to your own (incorrect) definition and understanding of depression. Therefore, bugger off and do us all a favour eh?" And you expected me to debate with you after that comment? No way.

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    3. That wasn't me; it was a different Anonymous. If I'd told you to bugger off, I could hardly criticise you for telling me to 'get lost', could I? And it's not a worthless debate at all; it's a very important one.

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    4. To save confusion then, perhaps identify yourself by using a name next time. A worthwhile debate perhaps, sparked off not only by Ben, but by my comments too.

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  20. Because depression isn’t susceptible to unambiguous diagnosis (unlike, say, cancers/heart disease), we get folks with an agenda saying or implying that it is not a disease. Indeed for them it isn’t ---instead (so often) it’s an entree to announcing their own robust moral fibre, strength of character, etc etc …however carefully and tangentially they make their little declarations.

    Human nature’s like that ---always seeking the edge over other folks, especially when it can be accomplished with some degree of decorum. Depression is a pretty much ideal vehicle for this sort of personality to announce their own ‘virtue’.

    Anyone with any sense accompanied by personal experience knows that it is indeed a ‘disease’ ---doubters need to look within themselves as to why, for them, it’s not.
    Geoff

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    1. It's a disease now? I thought it was supposed to be an 'illness'. Which is it?

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    2. There's this marvellous new invention, Tom - it's called a 'synonym'. It's being patented as we speak, and should be ready for general use very shortly.

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    3. A 'disease' and an 'illness' are not the same thing. Not at all. Yes, the terms can be used synonymously, but only in appropriate context, and that is not here. To clarify, are you suggesting that depression is an illness or a disease, or both?

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    4. I'm suggesting that you are a quibbler, or hair-splitter, or nit-picker; more interested in semantics than in the issues under debate. Illness, condition, disease; it is what each sufferer chooses to call it. Is a by-pass an operation, or surgery, or surgical intervention, or procedure? If you need one, they can call it what they like, as long as they don't call it unnecessary and take it off the menu.

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  21. Exactly! Which is why mental and emotional health services are still the Cinderella of our healthcare system. Trying to get sceptics to open their eyes and minds and acknowledge the fact that people suffering from depression are not morally weak, or inferior, or shamming, or lazy, or any of the other labels our uncaring society likes to apply to them.


    For every Stephen Fry there is some insufferably self-satisfied twerp of a celeb attention-seeker stating that it's 'fashionable' to be depressed, or that 'happy pills' are an inferior choice, and those who take them are somehow cheating. No matter what TT might say, he would NEVER tell a cancer patient that they were 'drugging' their way out of their illness. Those words are NOT neutral; they imply disapproval and contempt, and to insist otherwise is just dishonest.

    It's interesting to find that the most vociferous opponents of the concept of depression being an illness are those lucky few who have not suffered from depression or watched a friend or relative suffer and struggle. The burden of depression is twice as heavy due to the arrogant assumptions of those thick-skinned, self-serving, smug individuals who are so quick to judge.

    Ben states, correctly, that depression is an illness; who the hell are you to swan in and start contradicting him?!

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    1. And how funny that my two most vocal critics, Sophie and TT, have not been able to come up with ONE single genuine argument, or piece of evidence, or reference; they can only keep repeating their own little point of view. How can we have a meaningful debate when all they do is repeat themselves and make snide remarks? Quite apart from the fact that the best way to avoid depressive illness is to steamroller your way through life, with a closed mind, a strong sense of self-righteousness and a rock-like faith in your own marvellousness and moral superiority. Can't you just be grateful for your own robust mental health? Must you browbeat vulnerable people by making them feel weak and somehow complicit in their own misery? Listen: Every single person who has suffered from depression knows that it is an illness. They know they couldn't have snapped out of it. They have struggled with feelings of guilt and shame; they have encountered prejudice and criticism. They may have lost jobs, or marriages, or friends. Depression isn't being sad; it isn't being upset. If you can improve your mood through your own actions, you aren't depressed. Depression is not a set of feelings; it is a condition that can take over your life, and in its severest form it can cause you to die. So can those of you who haven't experienced it please think before you speak? If you haven't got anything helpful, or supportive, or kind to say, can't you at least STFU?

      Delete
    2. Anonymous says: [quote]"Ben states, correctly, that depression is an illness; who the hell are you to swan in and start contradicting him?!"[quote]

      I can, and will, contradict Ben Gunn and anyone else who takes my intellectual fancy. I don't care who you are or how important you are, if I disagree with you, I will say so, and if I want to contradict you, I will do so.

      However, on this subject I have not contradicted the blog author. You keep saying I have (and by the way, I'm pretty sure the 'Anonymous' comments are by mainly the same person), but I have not said that depression is not an illness. It's a feature of dishonest rhetorical methods to accuse your opponent of making arguments he has not made. It shows shallowness and lack of confidence in what is being propounded.

      You say: [quote]And how funny that my two most vocal critics, Sophie and TT, have not been able to come up with ONE single genuine argument, or piece of evidence, or reference[unquote]

      This is a lie. A basis has been presented for why I am unconvinced that (i). depression is an illness and that (ii). notwithstanding whether or not it is an illness, anti-depressants are not generally an appropriate method of treatment, whatever their medical suitability. I have not at any time insulted anyone or intentionally set out to offend anyone. This, despite the fact that no burden of proof whatever rests with me. It rests with you, yet in reply, all I have had from you is emotional rhetoric, ad hominen, and now threats and swearing. You have failed to provide any evidential basis for your case. All we've seen is a few spam references to irrelevant websites.

      Delete
    3. The burden of proof only rests with me because you say so, and you DO say so because you know you have nothing of value to advance. I am not offended ; I'm enjoying myself. I can recognise offensive statements without being personally offended; it's an advantage when engaging strangers in debate. I know you prefer to imagine me with my knickers twisted beyond recognition, frothing at the mouth, but sadly reality is rather different.

      Delete
    4. And 'threats and swearing'? Oh deary me. I take back the 'hell' (swearing) and 'STFU' (threats). Better now? And I should hope you ARE able to tell which comments are mine; I certainly know which ones I wrote. I promise I'm not submitting comments purporting to be from lots if different anonymouses (sic).

      Delete
    5. The burden of proof rests with you because you are the one making the positive assertions and you are the one who supports the dispensing of drugs. It is reasonable that we expect you to demonstrate a proper basis for this. It is interesting that you can't - very worrying too, given the ubiquitousness of these drugs now.

      I have not arrived at this thread with an agenda. I am a regular contributor to this blog, so I can't have done, but even if I have or had some kind of agenda, that wouldn't prove or disprove anything. All I have said is that I am not convinced.

      It's good that you are taking back some of your comments, but it's only a start. You also need to drop the holier than thou act, stop being offended every two minutes, and start thinking for yourself. You also need to start drawing a distinction between 'adopting a position' and 'adopting an argument'. Like most people who argue emotionally rather than rationally, you are confusing the former for the latter, hence your frustration with people like me who have this awkward habit of questioning things.

      Delete
  22. (yay to 'Anonymous'. And 'Geoff'. Oh, and 'Anonymous'. :) )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. Geoff is very entertaining. More! More!

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    2. Cheap, Tom. Cheap and nasty.

      Delete
    3. What's cheap and nasty is ganging up on a contributor ('Sophie', I think), who made an entirely innocent and sympathetic comment. What's 'cheap and 'nasty' is dishonesty misrepresenting other people's positions and arguments to score points. What's 'cheap' and 'nasty' is playing to the audience using insufferable, simpering, lachrymose prose. What's 'cheap' and 'nasty' is using emotional manipulation to advance a highly-ignorant, irrational, dangerous and sinister agenda, which involves narcotising huge numbers of people in response to natural feelings and emotions. What's 'cheap' and 'nasty' is swearing and insinuating threats at those with the sheer temerity to ask why we should be doing this, and who disagree or differ in their thoughts and views.

      This particular brand of cheapness and nastiness is, sadly, a feature of the internet, and is simply an extension of human nature. Human beings are fundamentally irrational and, particularly in the West, value the social over the cerebral. It is rare to encounter an ad hoc debate, anywhere, in which canonical insight is valued.

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    4. Again with the conspiracy theories! I can't believe I'm arguing with someone who uses the word 'sinister' in an un-ironic way. It's Project Blue Beam! It's deception by hologram! It's mass poisoning by means of prescription of antidepressants in industrial quantities. It's the intended elimination of 90% of the population; it's Big Pharma run by giant lizards. Farewell, Tom, 'twas fun while it lasted! Stay off the serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and don't keep your mobile anywhere near any of those body parts you value most.

      Delete
    5. P.s. I have a secret weapon that protects me from becoming 'offended' or 'flustered'; it's called a sense of humour. I truly am not anything other than amused; why would I keep trying to get through to the likes of you and Sophie if I didn't find it enjoyable? I know you both WANT to think I'm gnashing my teeth and swearing under my breath, but I think this must be a form of projection. My nearest and dearest would drag me outside in the fresh air the moment I started to look or sound stressed or angry; they know how much I enjoy a frank exchange of views. I'm most impressed by your canonical insight; perhaps one day you'll let us have a glimpse of it?

      Delete
  23. I'm Anonymous, and so is my wife!

    ReplyDelete
  24. An AA group unto yourselves, huh? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An army of Anonymouses (anonimi? Anonimice?), marching proudly behind a secret banner... lol.

      Delete
  25. Hey Ben I hadn't read your blog till just now and it amzes me that I wrote this first thing this morning or was it yesterday, can't remember, hope it makes sense.

    http://micsirwin.blogspot.co.uk/

    Cheers

    Michael

    ReplyDelete
  26. Well here's a little musical interlude until Ben gets back, it is especially dedicated to Ms 'Anonymous', a song called 'you're drunk' http://youtu.be/sMqFRQlh3Ys

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My favourite is the song about the IRA terrorist, 'You're Sinn Fein; You Probably Think This Song is About You...

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    2. Haha good one, but what has it got to do with anything relevant to here Ms Anonymous ?

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    3. oh hang on its a different Anonymous, one with a personal axe to grind. Such a pleasant chap ...

      Delete
  27. Oh Sophie, you're such a little charmer! Shame I'm teetotal. Although to paraphrase Churchill, Madam, I may be drunk, but you are unenlightened. And by tomorrow morning I'll be sober.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ok Anonymous Ms Teetotal oul fool, do please carry on with your interesting comments... and btw your friend Churchill was a liar as well permanently drunk and depressed.

      Delete
  28. Hiya all. Returning to see... ugh! - I think this is all rather unpleasant. Just saying. And that comment above, if the AA 'joke' actually touched on something serious, is sick. How would ANY of this, latterly, help anyone, except perhaps anyone intent on being 'right' or making a point or 'winning' some irrelevant, largely uninformed, potentially harmful verbal battle at which ego and mere point scoring seems to be at core? Horrible to turn a subect of such gravity into this mess. IMHO. Best, tara @tarakatesanders

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rather unpleasant you say? Its positively gruesome ...

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  29. You're right, Tara; it's easy to get carried away sometimes. Let's draw a line under this one and part as friends, everyone?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AND wish you better, Ben!! I don't think any of us wish you other than well, regardless of our differences of experience or opinion.

      Delete
  30. You lot have been keeping yourselves entertained whilst I've been away howling at the moon - but the comments on this thread are now to close.

    Debate around the issues is one thing, but this has descended into personal abuse - and I won't stand for that. A number of comments will now be deleted by me, and any further comments will also be deleted. This discussion ends here and now.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ben,
      Have been reading you blog for a long time now, although have never commented. As a fairly old fashioned conservative you've given me a long pause for thought about crime and punishment and how we treat prisoners - I don't always agree but you've lifted some stones I'd never have thought to have looked under myself.

      Many thanks for all your efforts, I hope all is well with you and yours,

      Robert

      Delete
  31. I hope you are being looked after, or supported, in a good and sensitive manner. I won't be the only one sending you my best and warmest wishes. Siri xx

    ReplyDelete
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