Michael Stein writes: “Addicts frequently have multiple problems; it is rare to find an alcoholic or narcotic addict who doesn’t have anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, or another manner of self-harming behavior” (The Addict, William Morrow, 2009) When I look at my depression, I always see compulsive behavior or addiction associated with it. When I was in a bout of depression, it seemed as if I was addicted to the depression., like a dog chasing its tail. Depression is depression, but i can also be addicting, and perhaps a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I am not sure what triggered my depressions. When I needed my friends and family most, I drove them away. Some of my friends, family included, could or would not understand. What was most hurtful were comments about why I couldn’t just get over it. When I was depressed, I felt trapped; I couldn’t get out. I felt every bit as miserable as an addict in treatment. Addicts, however, have something to blame. With depression, there is nobody and nothing to blame. You are simply looked up and treated as weak.
In Prozac Nation, Elizabeth Wurzbach describes this “addiction to depression” pretty well. Se describes the depression experience as being consistent with narcissitic thinking, considering only oneself, feeling complete despair, and yet not letting go for a quick solution. Rather than accepting my reality and getting off my butt, I would fester. I was tired, could not sleep, count not concentrate, and I ruminated about suicide. In her book An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, Kay Jamieson comments about love and madness. She writes: “No amount of love can cure madness or unblacken one’s moods….Madness, on the other hand, most certainly can, and often does kill love” (Vantage Books, 1995).
I look at my depression as an existential void, as having no purpose; my daily journey is about filling that void with something, but that something can be unproductive and rather self-destructive activity. I have an inherent need for excitement, an urge to be outrageous and the center of attention, but this is not what living is about. Living is about how fit with others, and I would like to figure that our better. I think there are underlying issues with depression or anxiety that support the chemical or process addictions. Addiction can worsen one’s depression. Depression and addiction together feed a vicious cycle that is self-perpetuating. An addict has a problem with a chemical or process, but he or she also has a problem with life. You treat addiction and you still have the underlying issues. If you do not deal with the underlying issues, you might as well not bother treating the addiction.
Depression was a familiar place for me. Rather than reflecting or examining the process, it was easier for me to be passive and do nothing. Being idle in this way, while completely self-defeating, is also addicting. I always remember being angered when someone would tell me I was just sitting around feeling sorry for myself. However, there is truth in that accusation. It’s intended to get people moving. The solution is to get out of the comfort zone that is associated with depression.
When I was depressed or being passive, it was very easy for me to allow others to take care of me. Consciously or unconsciously, I did not feel I had to be responsible. I felt entitle to my feelings What I did not ask myself was this: I am entitled to feel any way I want, but does that mean I am entitled to impact other people is such a negative way?