Andrew Solomon: Poor Judgment in Depression

SONY DSCphoto by lisbokt (creative commons)

“You are constantly told in depression that your judgment is compromised, but a part of depression is that it touches cognition. That you are having a breakdown does not mean that your life isn’t a mess. If there are issues you have successfully skirted or avoided for years, they come cropping back up and stare you full in the face, and one aspect of depression is a deep knowledge that the comforting doctors who assure you that your judgment is bad are wrong. You are in touch with the real terribleness of your life. You can accept rationally that later, after the medication sets in, you will be better able to deal with the terribleness, but you will not be free of it. When you are depressed, the past and future are absorbed entirely by the present moment, as in the world of a three-year-old. You cannot remember a time when you felt better, at least not clearly; and you certainly cannot imagine a future time when you will feel better.”
― Andrew SolomonThe Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

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“Depression is the flaw in love. To be creatures who love, we must be creatures who can despair at what we lose, and depression is the mechanism of that despair.” ― Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

Depression in Pregnancy

Andrew Solomon has published an adaptation of a new final chapter to his book, Noonday Demon in today’s New York Times magazine. After a dramatic and sad opening the pieces settles into the an exploration of the lethality and stigma of depression in pregnancy, and the risks and benefits of medicating depression during pregnancy — it’s not as obvious as you might think. Bottom line? There are no easy answers. It’s really thoughtful piece. Recommended.

“we’ve had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers…”

Oh?

They would do this bizarre thing. They didn’t take people out into the sunshine where they would begin to feel better. They didn’t include drumming or music to get their blood going. They didn’t involve the whole community. They didn’t externalize the depression as an invasive spirit. Instead what they did was they took people, one at a time into dingy little rooms and made them talk for an hour about bad things that had happened to them!

A Rwandan, speaking to Andrew Solomon, author of Noonday Demon (previous two posts).

On the East Side of Los Angeles? Need to get out of your dingy little room? Why not pick up a copy of the book at a local bookstore? Get out of the house!

Some options:

Skylight Books (Los Feliz)

Alias Books East (Atwater)

Stories (Echo Park)

I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain

Andrew Solomon opens his talk on depression, in which he recalls his own experience, with a quote from Emily Dickinson. Solomon is the author of the comprehensive Noonday Demon. This Ted talk touches upon many of the themes in that great book. It’s full of the same pithy insights, including the delusions depressives tend to harbor.

I want to say that the treatments we have for depression are appalling.

There are three things people confuse – depression, grief and sadness.

Depression is a slower way of being dead.

And so on. Definitely worth a listen.