August 13th, 2014

Dark God

Addiction and Despression

Two recent articles got me thinking about how depression and addiction are very similar in behavior.   There are traits shared by both, and perhaps looking at depression in this light will better explain it to people who are perplexed by depression.

Before I go further, I want to be clear that I am not speaking of addiction leading to depression nor am I speaking of depression leading to addiction.  Both of these events can occur, but they are grist for another article (or two).  For now I want to speak to common traits between depression and addiction.  

One article spoke to the misuse of the phrase “battle with addiction”.  The author stated that the use of the word “battle” implied a battle that could won if enough effort was put to task.  The word also implies a failure on a person’s part if they “lose the battle”.  Furthermore, the phrase “battle” implies an enemy with definable forces, forces that must be defeated in order to win the conflict. 

The second article spoke of not having to be responsible to depression.  My take on this phrasing was that the depressed (sad) person did not owe anything to the depression.  There is no debt to pay nor a contract to honor.    This is a fascinating perspective that is very insightful.

What is the juxtaposition of these two articles?   Consider the following correlations.

The first article clearly stated that depression can be lifetime event.  There are many skirmishes between the person and depression.  These are ongoing, with victory being only measured in momentary quality of life, or perhaps the subsistence of life.  There is no glorious victory.   There is no inglorious defeat.  Depression IS, it is dealt with day-to-day, and it CONTINUES.   Addiction is like this also.  A former addict can restrain from partaking in addictive behavior.  The skirmish is won, but no amount of time can state “the battle is won”.  Addicts have triggers that can relapse them into addictive behavior.  Depression is the same.  Deep depression can be alleviated, but there are things that can plunge a depressed person back into the numbing depths.   Addiction and depression are struggles that are not won or loss.   A truce is possible, a regrettable choice may be made, and the underlying condition continues on.

The second article is empowering in its own way.  I love that it states that a person is not held to do X and Y just because they are depressed.  There is no moral code in play.  Likewise, addiction has no noble goal that must be achieved.  I like this because it helps remove the person, be they depressed or an addict, from the obligation of the victim.  Yes, they can be the victim, but it is not because they HAVE TO.   This gives the person a little breathing room.  This puts the affliction on a physiological or emotional foundation.  Is this enough for the person to break free?  Perhaps not, but at least they don’t have to feel it is their obligation, or as my friend said, responsibility, to be a victim.  

Based on these thoughts, what is my advice to the addicted and depressed?  Fight on a daily basis.  Don’t frame your struggle as some battle that is won or lost.  Instead just BE as your affliction continues its IS.  Realize that you are allowed to overcome depression and affliction.  There is no responsibility that says you must give in.   It is tough, and your strength is that you owe your opponent NOTHING.