Depression’s Insidious Arguments

Lawyers are usually pretty intelligent people when it comes to things like standardized tests and logical reasoning. Problem is, many times depression uses your talents against you.

Take the issue of depression medications: I expect there are many of you who resist, strenuously even, the idea of taking medications to combat depression. Maybe you believe those who say that anti-depressants are a short-cut, a crutch; maybe you worry about long-term risks and side-effects; maybe you are persuaded by studies that say talk therapy and anti-depressants are equally effective. Maybe you even think that if you just sucked it up and with steely determination decided to do so, you would be able to combat all those negative feelings on your own.

I also believed all four of those reasons at one time or another.

Yet what I could not see was how much my depression was exaggerating the strength of those arguments. Depression will tell you that you could be stronger, if you just tried (but you’re so worthless and weak that you won’t, it whispers). Depression will tell you that you should avoid potentially harmful mind-altering drugs, because it’s a fake recovery (because you know deep down you can’t really ever be happy). Depression will tell you that once you start, you’ll never ever be able to get off anti-depressants (and better to not be an addict than to live in a self-deluding land of happy).

My therapist of many years ago really pushed me, practically begged me, to at least try meds. And I fought him tooth and nail about it. It was roughly one of the top five dumbest things I’ve done in my life, and let me tell you the candidates for dumbest things in my life are legion.

For me, and for many who work in a very challenging environment, the stresses are many and the chances to rebalance yourself with a program of vigorous exercise and hours of meditation are few. And if you come from a family with a history of depression (like mine, on both sides, yippee), you may have to come to grips with the notion that you and anti-depressants are like diabetics who don’t make insulin: they will never be able to will themselves to make insulin, and no amount of exercise will change that fact. That may or may not be true for you. But you owe it to yourself, your family, and your friends to investigate all the tools available to you to escape your pit of depression, and quit reasoning yourself deeper into it.

Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer, writer, and trainer. She appreciates gorgeous fall days much more these days than she did ten years ago. You can write her at jennalvey AT gmail DOT com.

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