Anarchism and Depression. Coping with the 9 - 5.

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Joined: 30-07-10
Jul 30 2010 22:18
Anarchism and Depression. Coping with the 9 - 5.

Hi all,
First post.

Firstly a brief hello, I'm michael, I'll be bring you all down from now on. Nice to meet your acquaintance. I have bad grammer, poor spelling, and a general crappy attitude about humanity.

onto the topic.

I will first let it be known, that i have a deep mistrust of doctors, the medical "profession", and all pharmacology. It's pretty bad news, and there is a lot wrong wwith it, but thats another story for another day.

I'm sure this topic has been brought up at some point, but I can't be arsed t find it at 11.10 on a friday night (when i should surely be having fun instead?).

I am a self, or rather, spouse-diagnosed depressed person.

It has been building for a few years now, and is just getting to the point where it is becoming an issue. I have started to show symptoms (apparently) of a person with mild - strong depression. there are all kinds of issues as to why this has come about, mainly parent issues, and issues with humanity in general, but the main subjest i wish to approach is how, if at all, has depression affected those in the greater anarchist community, and what did you do about it, if anything.

I do apologise for the pretty heavy first post, but i feel it's also of therapuetic value to myself, to actually get some of it off my brain.... and having one fried to my name, kind of makes for awkward dinner table conversation.

please, discuss away.... wow me with your collective intellect

Joined: 20-09-09
Jul 30 2010 22:32

Welcome to libcom Michael.

JoeMaguire's picture
Joined: 26-09-03
Jul 30 2010 23:22

Hey Michael, good first post. Not a subject thats probably touched upon too much for fear of coming across introverted. But something that needs raising nonetheless.

I am of the view that depression actually disproportionately affects anarchists, (even mental illness). After all were trying to develop a consciousness and trying to be emphatic with the struggle against the ills around us, its a correlating relationship.

Of course it doesn't always help to know in order to get to a world view that actually reflects with whats wrong in the world, having avoided the hurdles of political and religious dogma and societal mantra you may have developed your own baggage along the way, but this happens infrequently and results in burnout. But those very small kernels of truth and hope we pick up along the way are kind of worth preserving and passing on to others, and are probably the thing that helps motivate me others.

I would say as a few pointers;
- avoid doing stuff if it compromises your personal life in a way your not happy with.
- you don't always have to like the people you politically work alongside, but try and make social time. A laugh and a joke here can take the edge off most things,
- always remind yourself why you became active in the first place.
- develop a life and social activity completely outside of politics, so you can retreat

D's picture
Joined: 8-06-08
Jul 31 2010 19:00

I have personally experienced quite bad depression related to a mental disorder. My advice to you would be to try to be active as possible, especially with exercise and stuff, that really helps.

Also if you do seek help (counselling, psycologist etc) it can be worth listening to what they say and doing what they advise you to do - that is what has helped me improve greatly

Tart's picture
Joined: 3-04-08
Aug 1 2010 14:19
D wrote:
I have personally experienced quite bad depression related to a mental disorder. My advice to you would be to try to be active as possible, especially with exercise and stuff, that really helps.

Also if you do seek help (counselling, psycologist etc) it can be worth listening to what they say and doing what they advise you to do - that is what has helped me improve greatly

I just want to support what D said about exercise. I have found forcing myself to be physically active has helped in combating depressive illness. I am told there is a sound bio-chemical reason for this. The brain makes chemicals when you exercise that promote the production of serotonin and clinical depression is caused by the lack of serotonin. I also find it helpful to set my self intellectual challenges (most intellectual activity is a huge challenge for me) so I play music (badly) and write fiction (crap as well) which forces me to engage mentally and not just sit with a thousand mile stare. Circumstances have forced me out of activism and limit my contact with the world. If you can do get yourself out and engaged in the world. Working with others on small achievable projects makes you feel good about yourself and the world you are a part of. I know it worked for me when I could do it.
I have found it difficult to relate to counselling but know of people who have found it useful to have a place to talk. I was wanting to try cognitive therapy but I had to move before I got to the top of the waiting list and have never tried to pursue it in my new location.
I found the whole process of trying to get help deeply depressing. I was sent to a series of offices where I had to explain my problem to a stranger who wrote it all down, referred me to another stranger in another office where I had to explain it all again at a later date. I found myself getting more stressed by the process than I could cope with.
I think it may have been easier to cope with depression if I did have some kind of "big daddy (or uncle Joe) in the sky" belief or just less understanding of the cruel and wasteful ways of capitalism.
My other tip is not to take the negativity of some libcom posters too seriously.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Joined: 4-11-09
Aug 1 2010 15:17
My other tip is not to take the negativity of some libcom posters too seriously.

Admin; a serious discussion - stay quiet if you have nothing worthwhile to contribute.

Joined: 11-03-06
Aug 1 2010 22:12

Exercise. Driving.or Cycling. Playing A Sport with Children. DIY.

Joined: 11-04-09
Aug 1 2010 23:59

I think that there is a solid basis for arguing that depression is a natural, healthy and entirely appropriate response to the state of the world, to our neighborhood, or to whatever it is that constitutes a person's daily experience.
Attributing it all to a "chemical inbalance" in the brain - while, in one sense, probably correct - just seems evasive; it seems misleading, and - depending on the sort of respite or cure one is looking for - I suspect it often isn't in any way useful. The "chemical inbalance" very often has its own causes surely. Even if these precursors aren't amenable to treatment, it seems disingenuous not to at least acknowledge them. In the long run, it's the social and environmental precursors which need to be tackled, ya know? (Isn't this what anarchism is about, to a large extent?)

I guess that - like the contributors above suggested - that exercise, and keeping active, can help.
Personally, I think that the best antidote - or at least an important part of the antidote - is to engage with and - to the extent possible - support each other on a personal level. (After all, isn't that part of what a counsellor does? It's just a pity that, with a counsellor, you would never have any certification that they in any way share any of your political, social or ideological affinities). My impression is that some people here disagree with me on this question, and I don't really want to argue about it. But, for what they are worth, those are my thoughts.

Anyway, welcome to the forum.

Redwinged Blackbird's picture
Redwinged Blackbird
Joined: 3-11-11
Apr 20 2012 06:04

Aw man, there has to be more depressed anarchists on here than this.. all the miserable shit that goes on in this world drives me nuts. It's enough to drive a person to drink. Heavily.

I just got off the booze, been sober for 2 weeks and it's been interesting.

Joined: 10-10-08
Apr 20 2012 07:20

Hello Michael!
My advice is to take up running as it boosts serotonin which gives you a natural high.
Focus on things that benefit and interest you-jettison those that hold you back.
Structure your life to your needs and remember that a chief cause of Depression are power relationships and so rationalise the way some people behave towards you.They are just playing there part and have no consciousness regarding the way they behave or how to combat it.
My Depression revolves around work and stress which in turn stem from power and exploitation-CAPITALISM!
Best wishes comrade

artofstoo's picture
Joined: 15-03-12
Apr 20 2012 08:46

Welcome to the forum Michael.

First, I would like to say good for you -for taking the time to seek help and wanting to discuss your condition.
I have battled with a form of depression called dysthemia almost my entire life. So, I understand the different levels of anxiety and paranoia that are often one of the many symptoms of depression. My depression went through a stage, for years, where I couldn't walk in to a public place without feeling like every second stranger that passed me was making completely negative judgments of me. So, over-coming that fear or irrational thought (if you had experienced that at all) by putting yourself on the line, the way you are now, is a step in the right direction.

Combating depression can be tricky. You need to recognize what form of depression you have. Is it circumstantial depression? or is it clinical depression?. Since there isn't a clean-cut study to diagnose someone, the best way to start understanding what you might have is by speaking to the people closest to you about your behaviour patterns. How your behaviour has effected them, what "triggers" you and how they see your depression effecting the basic aspects of your life. Since depression is famous for clouding rational thought, it's best to ask the people around you these questions so that when you start asking yourself questions you can be more honest with yourself in trying to answer them.

With circumstantial depression, most people from the get-go can recognize if that's the form of depression they're experiencing. Things like, losing your job, girlfriend, divorce, etc, or, more typically, a combination of negative events that recently took place in your life will trigger depression. It's been proven that with circumstantial depression, it typically lasts no more than 3 months. So, if that's what you have then let it ride it's course. take a break, go on vacation if you can. but, it's crucial to talk about it as much as possible! do-not seclude or isolate yourself!

As for clinical depression, the first thing to do is to check and see if depression or addiction runs in your family. If that's the case then there's a good chance you inherited the gene *it's typically the case with most victims of clinical depression. -Basically, what it means is that specific neurons in the brain aren't releasing or properly synthesizing the right amount of serotonin that it needs. Sometimes, and in the case of people suffering from manic depression, the brain either lacks serotonin to release or it floods the brain with too much. In effect, causing mood polarity.
With dysthemia ( which is what I have ) my depression comes and goes, at really any time, for different lengths of time. With dysthemia, you may be feeling fine for a month or two, then, it's almost like you relapse and find yourself depressed for a month or two...sometimes three or six. It's very unstructured.
The main symptom of clinical depression, a part from irrational feelings of suicide, low self esteem, various levels of anxiety, paranoia, high levels of frustration, etc etc. is the feeling that EVERYTHING is a chore. Which is caused from mental weight and exhaustion. Just getting up in the morning feels like a huge task. So, like the suggestions in the above posts. healthy diets and excersize help tons and helps keep your energy up. The most difficult is mustering up enough energy at the beginning to even put your shoes on, let alone go for a walk.

So, what I suggest is,
-after you ask the people around you and get opinions about your behaviour, start reading about depression... read, read, read! Especially if you suspect what you have is clinical depression, which, you will most likely have to cope with the rest of your life. The better you understand the way your brain functions, the more 'tools' you'll have to fight it. For example, it teaches you to recognize, in the moment it occures, when you are thinking an irrational thought that's strickly created from your depression and nothing else. You learn to flip those thoughts around so you can get on with your day.
-The other thing you need to do is, talk about depression, be open about it, never be ashamed or embarassed by it. the more you talk about it the less isolated you'll feel.
-Never-ever isolate yourself! because once you're on that path, life becomes a fucking giant black hole and hard to climb out of. It doesn't matter how much pain we can be in, suicide should never be an option. It is the pinacle of selfish acts. Talking about it and educating yourself on the subject also helps keep you out of that 'black hole'.

Other than that, depending on the severity of your condition, you will need to take medication. I hate, with a passion, Big Pharma. So I always do a lot research on the medications I try and on the company designing the drug prior to taking them. You'll find certain companies aren't as greedy and slimey pigs as others, so obviously i'm making a big comprimise. But, I have to. severe clinical depression that's untreated can develop in to early alzheimer's or schizophrenia. -It's a last resort if it's unmanageable any other way.

I would also like to highly recommend you read the buddhist take on depression. I don't approve of religion however, they really have put depression in to perspective. It's put in a very logical and scientific way and a part from them suggesting meditation as a coping strategy, they don;t superimpose any spiritual or religious beliefs.

Anyway, I hope this novel helps some! smile

artofstoo's picture
Joined: 15-03-12
Apr 20 2012 09:41

I would also like to comment on a few of the above posts.

We do need to make the distinction between circumstantial and clinical depression. I can't stress enough how extrmely important it is.
Yes, circumstantial is a normal reaction to our environment and in some cases a very healthy one. and it's very normal for the average person to experience it at some point in their life at least once.
Clinical on the other hand is a mental health disorder. it's very dangerous to confuse one form of depression for the other and there is an array of types of depression under each catagory.
Each type takes different styles of treatment. A mistreatment of a particular form of depression, or a misdiagnosis, can ultimately be the cause of one taking his or her own life. Even if he/she appeared to be fine the day before.

If you know you have it, and aren't getting any kind of treatment, don;t screw around with it. Bite the bullet if you have to, go see a doctor you can trust, take meds if you know it's not being manufactured by a company like Pfizer ... THEN, once you start getting on track, start getting the help you need, you can begin to introduce your own personal and political beliefs in to coping with it.
Because, the fact of the matter is, once you're dead you're not an anarchist, a socialist, a scum-bag capitalist... you're just dead.

artofstoo's picture
Joined: 15-03-12
Apr 20 2012 10:13

...Also, living an active lifestyle for all forms of depression helps. All of them work in helping to regulate serotonin connecting with all area's of your brain. But, it's only good for people who's bodies actually produce the serotonin in the first place. For the people who don't, the clinically depressed, should look at methods like excercise as a highly effective way to help maintain a balanced distribution of natural neurotransmitters.
For people who lack the ability to synthesize serotonin; you can almost look at it like you were born without a hand. No diet or amount of activity is going to help you grow a hand. So, you may need to get a synthetic one.

Diddy-D's picture
Joined: 1-04-12
Apr 20 2012 11:50

I am sorry to hear about your depression.

I share your views on mistrust of doctors. I think psychiatry is a pseudo-science, and is to medicine, what alchemy is to metallurgy.

There is no proven chemical cause for 'depressive ilness'. Yet chemical cures (i.e. drug therapy) is applied. I believe they have little, or no, therapeutic application. Anti-depresant medication was developed in America in the 1950s. The recovery rate since then has been up to 70 per cent. But American textbooks on psychiatry published prior to the introduction of these drugs, indicates quite clearly, that the spontaneous recovery rate for depression was between 70 and 80 per cent. So since the advent of drug therapy, the recovery rate has gone down.

I do not regard 'depression' as an illness. It is an acute emotional sadness, brought about by the economic, social, political and interpersonal difficulties, that many people endure. These problems have been medicalized.

I can suggest a good book to you: "BEYOND PROZAC" by Dr Terry Lynch. Terry is a doctor, who has treated many peeps with acute psychiatric difficulties, without recourse to medications at all. He has succeeded with many patients where psychiatrists have failed, even when the prognosis was considered to be very poor by psychiatrists.