Depression and support

This post was written last night, without an Internet connection, hence it is only being posted now.

I’ve suffered from depression more or less non-stop for the last 8 years, since I was 14 (see Mental illness: My struggle). Early on, I used to use that tired old joke, “I don’t suffer from depression, I enjoy every minute of it!” but it didn’t take to long for me to realise that that only served to further minimise and marginalise the all-too-real suffering I was going through in the eyes of others (“He can joke about it, surely that means it can’t be too bad”).

My support networks during those 8 years have ranged from the fantastic to the barely existent, changing with the various social circles I have mixed with during that time. Yet, when I think back to times where my support network has been all I could have hoped for, I find it hard to remember what it actually was that they did. In my latest especially depressive patch (as distinct from my routine depressive state), currently running into its 5th month, I certainly feel a lack of support, but I also have a total lack of an idea as to what I want or need.

Part of me longs for my friends to take the lead at this point – for them to gather together and do something, anything, to provide some support, even if it’s totally inadequate or not what I need. At the same time, I fear the patronising mentality that is so common towards sufferers of mental illness (even from fellow sufferers). I don’t want to have to deal with being patronised on top of everything else.

Because suffering from mental illness takes a radically different form for every person, even fellow sufferers are unable to provide any framework that is likely to be effective – I know sufferers who cope best when totally left alone, and I know sufferers who can’t bear to be alone for even a minute. Our differing experiences demand different strategies of support, which makes it that much harder to develop community strategies (see Building “mad” friendly communities) for supporting sufferers that can be readily applied whenever someone requires help.

I’m not really sure, at this point, of the purpose of this post. It’s about 20 minutes since I wrote that last paragraph, 20 minutes of sitting here trying to think of a positive, or at least constructive, outcome to begin to head towards. But I guess that I really don’t know where to go from here. I can only hope that this serves as a catalyst for people to take a good look around them and to question how they can best support their friends who are suffering right now. In the meantime, though, I’m sure I won’t be the only one crying alone tonight.

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8 Responses to Depression and support

  1. [...] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptI’ve suffered from depression more or less non-stop for the last 8 years, since I was 14 (see Mental illness: My struggle). Early on, I used to use that tired old joke, “I don’t suffer from depression, I enjoy every minute of it! … [...]

  2. yuda says:

    >I’m not really sure, at this point, of the purpose of this post.

    hey well at the least you’re letting your friends know what you are going through. like you said it’s quite hard for people to really know how to support someone going through depression cause everyone goes through it differently. Times in my life when I’ve felt really down and overwhelmed, I tended to get away from everything and everybody and go climb a mountain for a couple of days, this helped me put things in perspective.

    Saying that I have no idea what it is like to live with depression.

    I hope your friends up your way do help support you in whatever way you need them to and I’ll just close this by saying that even though some of us live far away we still think of you and value your freindship

    Kia Kaha

  3. Scott says:

    I’m really sorry to hear about this Asher.

    You should take pride in the fact that, despite suffering from this illness, you have managed to take part in numerous political activities and also maintain a popular weblog.

    Re your book about the history of Jewish radicalism: have you visited the site of Louis Proyect at
    He is working on something very similar – perhaps you two could swap notes?

  4. kakariki says:


    and check your email :)

  5. Hey, thanks for sharing your experiences. It makes it a bit easier to understand my own depression, something I’ve suffered from for many years. I’ll blog about that sometime soon, but in the meantime, take care Asher – hugs.

  6. Winky the Psychoanalytical Clown says:

    depression, hahahaha, loser, depression, hahahaha. what a big whiney cry baby. go kill yourself, hahahaha. you’re weak, you’re weak, motherfukker. it’s best to kill yourself on ten tablets of ecstasy. that shit is FUN!!! TRY IT!!! hahahahaha.

  7. [...] I feel no doubt is a contributing factor to the lack of support I frequently get from friends (see Depression and support). If I can’t describe what I’m going through, how can I ever hope to get what I need in [...]

  8. Jamie says:

    Here via icarus forums. If you’ve already done this, then disregard, but I was thinking it might help just to write out what you *don’t* want. You could also possibly give this to your friends. I hear you on not wanting to be patronized but what are the *specific* things you don’t want people to do? I reckon that a lot of people don’t even realize when they are being patronizing, probably partly because they don’t know much about depression.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that depression *can* distort your understanding of someone else’s actions. For example, when I’m depressed I tend to assume that people think I’m annoying and unpleasant to be around, based off the slightest of evidence. In a more rational state of mind, I can see that this is not the case, that people have reactions that have nothing to do with me, etc.

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