Walk It Off, Bitches

1 Feb

NPR has been talking a lot about how ketamine (or, more likely, drugs with a similar chemical profile) could be used to treat people with crisis-level depression. There have been limited studies, but apparently the drug has an immediate effect in a large number of depressed patients, even those who have treatment-resistant depression.  The upshot of all of this is this is that doctors could have a way of treating suicidal patients immediately instead of admitting them to a psych ward until one of the current anti-depressants kicks in and/or the feelings that caused the crisis passed.

I was pretty excited to hear all of this for a variety of reasons, but especially because I have treatment-resistant depression and it’s nice to have another tool in the toolbox–those SSRIs are fucking rusty and kinda janky and have all sorts of TMI side effects. I was also relieved that the reports I heard were without all the condescension and ignorance and ableism that often dominates discussions of depression, although the Talk of the Nation show  had a member of the Exercise and Eat Right brigade call in. Because the solution to thinking that you’re an utter piece of shit and that your life is so miserable that you’d be better off dead is to take a fucking jog. I was glad to hear Neal Conan basically laugh at him and tell him that the studies supporting exercise for depression were for people with mild or moderate depression, not people who come to the ER wanting to or having attempted to off themselves.

I have been intending for some time to write a post  about the dismissive, obnoxious, and potentially dangerous shit that non-depressives say about depression, so right now I’ll just briefly address HOW MUCH THIS SHIT PISSES ME OFF.  I know that the “I know better about your life than you do” thing certainly isn’t isolated to depressives and tends to compound based on relative privilege, but it’s been one of the biggest factors for me in the spirals of shame and self-blame that lead to thoughts of suicide and self-harm.

These days, I’m less inclined to take what clueless assholes say to heart, although it still infuriates me. Mr. Exercise and Eat Right probably did nothing other than demonstrate that he is a dumbshit with the listening skills of a kindergartener.  But it goes to show that even the simplest, least fraught discussions of depression still result in opinion-havers having opinions that they feel the need to share with the rest of us, despite how dumb and harmful they may be. Which I suppose is a privilege of being American, but goddamn, that shit has got to stop.

14 Responses to “Walk It Off, Bitches”

  1. vacuumslayer 02.01.2012 at 16:02 #

    Oh wow. Are there people out there that dismissive of depression in this day and age? That’s fucking depressing. Well, I guess I better go jog. BTW, I’ve been a jogger and a depressed person simultaneously. It doesn’t help THAT MUCH.

  2. truculentandunreliable 02.01.2012 at 16:13 #

    I’d say there’s a large portion of people who don’t think that depression exists, or that it’s just “being sad,” or that people are only depressed because they want to be (see also a statement by a “friend” to the effect of: “I was ‘depressed’ when I was in the Peace Corps, but I made myself snap out of it by thinking happy thoughts”), or that taking a walk will solve it, or that there’s an “evolutionary advantage to it” (because, like, all diseases have an evolutionary advantage, amirite?) or or or or…the message from a huge number of people is that we are always doing it rong and it is always our fault.

  3. Big Bad Bald Bastard 02.01.2012 at 18:36 #

    Our society has a really horrific track record when it comes to mental illness. Got a heart problem? We’ll show you sympathy. Got a spleen problem? We understand. Got a brain problem? GET OVER IT!

    It’s really fucking awful. Our approach to health problems is bad enough, but our approach to mental health problems is positively appalling.

    That being said, one exercise which might help you cope with your depression is throwing dismissive assholes off of bridges.

  4. Smut Clyde 02.01.2012 at 18:51 #

    Cold showers, T&U:
    http://www.mendeley.com/research/adapted-cold-shower-potential-treatment-depression/

    Ketamine is nasty stuff (or so I hear from a friend). Works as a frontal-cortex blocker, i.e. a temporary lobotomy.
    Don’t rely on anything in that NPR article about neurophysiology or I will have to use THE EXPLAINING VOICE.

  5. Substance McGravitas 02.01.2012 at 22:46 #

    the message from a huge number of people is that we are always doing it rong and it is always our fault.

    Encouraging!

    I remember getting some pills that worked and being kind of shocked: is this how a normal person wakes up? Ready to go and looking forward? THIS IS NOT REAL.

  6. jim 02.02.2012 at 06:01 #

    It’s true: sickness located in the brain is seen as either innately hilarious or proof that the sufferer is malingering. Folks who’d never dream of mocking a leukemia victim will gleefully do so to a schizophrenic.

    Hope you’re not in that awful anhedonia place I was in for many years. Being in a “low” is bad enough, but not enjoying much of anything day in, day out REALLY sucks a big one. I had to change the major things in my life that were making me permanently miserable – which was a real saga of fail-&-retry – but once I did: HOLY TOLEDO SCALE, what a difference!

    Fight for your right to party … or something.

  7. truculentandunreliable 02.02.2012 at 19:34 #

    B^4–Great upper-body and core workout!

    Smut–Yeah, I wasn’t about to go stealing some Special K from a pharmacy or whatever…although my mom has already sent a link to a clinical trial that she thinks I should participate in. I think cold showers sound slightly more pleasant.

    I don’t mind the Explaining Voice as long as it’s about something interesting. And, you know, something I don’t know about already.

    Substance–It’s been a long while since I’ve felt like a completely normal person (I think, anyway), but that whole clouds parting holy shit I can do things feeling is pretty freaking great. I can’t lie–I am jealous of people who have it most of the time.

  8. truculentandunreliable 02.02.2012 at 19:44 #

    jim–That’s kind of where I am right now. I’m sad sometimes, but mostly, I just don’t want to do anything and I’m pretty “meh” about everything. I used to read all of the time, but I can’t/don’t want to anymore and I’ve only read a few books for enjoyment over the past few years. Honestly, it’s a battle to get out of bed every day and I have to push myself to do anything.

    I was able to build quite a bit of momentum today and get a bunch of stuff done, but my day could’ve easily gone in the other direction. I think the anhedonia and the lack of motivation are nasty little twins–one keeps you from doing anything, and the other keeps you from feeling any satisfaction when you do accomplish something. And I know that there’s something that’s *not right* with my brain, but it doesn’t really keep me from having thoughts that I’m pathetically lazy.

    I’ve had a lot of life changes in the past couple of years, but I know that I still need to work on a lot of stuff to maximize the happiness that I can have. Right now, it’d just be nice to get a little jump start, but it’s hard to do without health insurance.

  9. zombie rotten mcdonald 02.03.2012 at 13:04 #

    I remember getting some pills that worked

    Were they legal?

  10. zombie rotten mcdonald 02.03.2012 at 13:05 #

    As Grace reminds us, “the pills that Mommy gives you don’t do anything at all”

  11. Substance McGravitas 02.03.2012 at 13:32 #

    Were they legal?

    God damn it, I have to answer this seriously.

    Yes, SSRI named fluvoxamine. I have an entertaining story that involves TMI side effects but, really, TMI.

    Current regime: bupropion and dexedrine and non-stop Pepsi Max (ton of caffeine in that).

  12. truculentandunreliable 02.03.2012 at 19:40 #

    Oh hey! My OCD just kicked in too, after months of being under control.

    Sub–I’ve had the best results with a (HIGH–but my life was also total shit at the time) dosage of fluoxetine and buproprion, but I still had a lot of side effects. I’m currently self-medicated with caffeine, too.

    I’ve been on a carousel of various SSRIs, but I’ve never been on fluvoxamine. That’s Luvox, right? My brother was on that and, I think, may have had the side effects you’re speaking of…at the breakfast table…*shudder*

  13. Substance McGravitas 02.03.2012 at 19:55 #

    Yeah, that’s Luvox, and there was death breakup and joblessness – oh and much alcohol – involved there and it worked. On the other hand I didn’t really DO anything while taking it. The balance between misery-relief and sloth is the big problem.

  14. Smut Clyde 02.03.2012 at 20:52 #

    I am among the lucky minority who respond well to good old-fashioned tricyclics which entitles me to act all smug about you young people and your new-fangled SSRIs.

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