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Are we the new normal? Monday November 23, 2015

Julia made a comment on a blog recently about depression being normal. And it got me thinking... How often have I thought myself weak for having depression? Felt shame? Like I'm less than other people; like it's an affliction I have to bear. But what if it isn't? What if depression is a condition of the strong? When you look back over time depression has visited so many of the greatest minds, creative thinkers and emotionally astute people that have ever lived. Winston Churchill, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Abraham Lincoln, Halle Berry, Dolly Parton (I know, right?!) Stephen Fry, Mozart, Newton. The list goes on.

Everyone I know that suffers depression is sensitive. Diligent. Thoughtful. Caring. Too caring maybe? I can't speak for anyone else and I hate to lump all depressives together (back to the collective noun question again!) but for me I can honestly say that I am thin-skinned. Empathy rich. I think differently. Feel more. Question more. Don't agree with the world and spend my time searching. Pushing. Challenging the norm. And because of the sensitivity the 'challenging the norm' part often feels tough. It's like I'm going against the grain and that's not a very comfortable place to be.

I believe a big part of my depression is from trying to squeeze my round, alternative-thinking, self into a square hole. I've folded and twisted and contorted myself and then looked out with a fake smile. Pretending to agree with the way the world is. But everyone around me can see bits of the 'real me' are sticking out, they know I'm not speaking my truth and that my laughter is forced. Right now I am slowly unraveling into something new. And every time I squash myself down again I deny who I am. Depression. Repression. Same thing?

Where would we be if Mozart had fitted in? If Churchill had stopped his voice from being heard? If Amy Winehouse hadn't unleashed her creative genius on the world?

Isn't it time we stood up and were proud? Unveiled our real selves? We might just be the future of this crazy, mixed up world. We might be the new normal...

Debs
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


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Comments

Nick Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 6:52am

Debs, you got my vote! xx

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:00am

Thanks Nick - am thinking of running for PM ;-) x

Annette Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 7:02am

Dear Debs your blog is excellent I had to stop reading it for s wee while as I couldn't see through my tears everything was blurry.Why tears?Because I could relate so much to your words and at last I feel an acceptance to my Depression and should feel no shame.Thankyou x

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:02am

Oh Annette, I'm so moved reading your words.... Don't ever feel shame, we are the ones whose voices should be heard. We should be loud and proud of who we are xxx

LillyPet Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 7:15am

Morning Debs, that's such a good point! it could be why we feel so drained and exhaused, always going against the tide. Depression, repression and surpression!

We are a great bunch of people on here. I know I am looked upon by one or two individuals as weak. I hear them referring to others a "she's very nice but...." basically not good enough in some way. Nice but weak.

I will speak up for myself, speak my truth from time to time, not agree if I don't, value individuals over money and take time to do one job at a time well, rather than rush through several jobs quickly. I stand my ground. I'm too honest and I don't fit. Not part of the "team".
But when I am out i. The feild, doing what I do best, I am valued and welcomed. Thanked sincerely. I make a real difference to lives, but the "team" arent a part of that. So for as long as I can I remain determined to do what I love doing well and just do me.
For me a team is what we are on here. We have each others backs, support each other, value each other, disagree with respect, still on the same side.

Thank you for a great start to the day and the week! I'll be me with confidence and positivity, belive in who I am and what I do well! Wishing all peace and inner strength. LP xxx

LillyPet Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 7:30am

TYPOS! "field" and "aren't"
It's just as well we don't have to spell when we speak eh? ;))
Thinking about it ratg is right, if we are comfortable with our mistakes we are stronger!
AND I really hope there aren't people who would like to comment but are holding back incase they might be pulled up on something! That's me done with the superficial stuff, I dont want to take any atttention away from Depression being the new normal! LP xx

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:05am

I so get that LP! 'She's really nice but....' (in my case 'too sensitive', 'too emotional' etc) What a world this is when being senstitive and emotional are frowned upon. If more of our world 'leaders' led from the heart instead of the head what a different place we'd live in... x

LillyPet Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:52am

Absoblimminlutely! Yep I've had too sensitive and too emotional as well! I'm happy with that and wouldn't trade being harsh, cold blooded and tough skinned for anything! #notacroc :) xx

Lou Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 7:49am

This is a great post! Thanks, Debs :)

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:05am

Thanks Lou - I can't take the credit though, It's a Jul and debs production ;-) xx

Soulmansblue Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 7:59am

Hi Debs,

Really excellent Blog, You took the words right out of my mouth!

The outside world, the so called norm doesn't really care about the person next door. These day's people don't even know their next door neighbour. In fact they will probably never say a word to one another, unless they want something.

The world at large doesn't care anymore, unless that is there is something in it for them. Countries only protect countries that have something that they want. Otherwise they sit back and watch!

Those that are depress seem to care about others. They support as you said one another. I can remember one time in group looking out the window and thinking that we are the sane ones and those on the outside are the mad.

People do anything these days to make a name for themselves or to get make themselves heard to the point of killing. It's insane, no one cares as they sit back and watch countless numbers of man, woman and child killed in one name or another.

It is one of many reasons that when I'm down that I turn to thoughts of suicide. I cannot see the point of living in such an uncaring world.

Thanks again Debs for a great blog. Much thought in there!

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:08am

I feel the same SMB. I don't feel like I fit so I'd rather leave. I've felt very suicidal over the past few years and a big part of that is feeling helpless to do anything meaningful to contribute to the madness. But maybe joining this type of debate is a starting point... lets keep the discussion going and perhaps revolution will follow xx

danielle Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 8:18am

Debs, such a lovely blog. Obviously having depression and other mental health problems is not pleasant and I wouldn't wish it upon any soul. However, there have been times when I have seen qualities in myself which I think have been causal factors to my mental state - I am very emotional, very creative, have a wild imagination, very organised, well planned, conscientious and dont like upsetting people. Unfortunately these qualities can manifest themselves in a negative way - I obsess if I am not organised, lie awake if I feel I have upset someone and they can torture me somewhat rotten. But recently I have tried to appreciate the same qualities that often result in me being ill - I care about people enough that I dont want to upset them, I can make beautiful art because I am creative and I have fantastic stories sometimes as I am imaginative. We all have qualities that will contribute to poor mental health but they can also be our best qualities and make us who we are - we need to celebrate them. I have no doubt that the characters you mention such a F Scott Fitzgerald and so on wouldn't have been as talented in their field had they been 'ordinary' - here's to us extraordinary folk! Who wants to be normal anyway?!! xxx

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:09am

Here here!!! I'm in for being extraordinary ;-) xx

Debbie Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 8:18am

Hi Debs, this is Debs! I totally agree - we care, we notice, we help, we listen - but usually to others, because that's who we are. Please read Depressive Illness;The Curse of the Strong by Dr Tim Cantopher - he makes exactly these points. See this excerpt availble on line. http://www.lanternsurgery.co.uk/website/H81672/files/Depressive_Illness_Curse_of_the_strong.pdf
thank you for your words, we are strong - and stronger together. x

Mary Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 8:58am

Thank you. I have ordered this book

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:12am

Ditto xx

Rebecca Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 8:23pm

Brilliant article, makes me feel much better about myself.

Hopeful One Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 8:33am

Hi Debs- a thought provoking blog. I have no doubt that we who suffer from depression tend to be sensitive,caring,imaginative ,emotional ,organised ,creative.But we often fail to appreciate and admire these qualities in ourselves and are odds with the world which seems to have all the opposites.

I tend to think of my depression as the depression we get in our weather systems.. The winds get high, the sky is overcast,it gets chilly drizzly and we get down. But if I remind myself that its only temporary and soon passes away particularly if I pay no attention to it and accept it .Before too long the sun burns through the cloud , the wind drops ,the rain stops and it gets warm again.

Here is a line from Tommy Cooper which brought my chuckle this morning which I am happy to share with fellow Moodscopers and let the sun burn through their cloud.

A man goes into the doctors. The doctor says, 'Go over to the window and stick your tongue out.' Man says, Why? The doctor says, 'I don't like my neighbours'

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:18am

Such a powerful reminder HO - to accept not fight, I needed that this morning... I have been slipping after a stressful day yesterday (organised my first kids party for my boy (4), invited loads of people, baked cakes, hosted, met my ex's new girlfriend for the first time and dealt with a tired, emotional boy after it was all over) and I think I need to take a step back and be proud of myself for a change. Accept that it is bound to be an emotional day and let myself recover. Thank you for the soothing words xxxx

danielle Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:34am

be very proud debs - that is much more than I could cope with! and i bet it truly made your boys birthday,xxx

the room above the garage Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 3:38pm

HO, thank you my friend, there is nothing like a little Tommy Cooper to bring me a smile! Love ratg xx.

Mary Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:00am

Wow Debs! Most thought provoking!

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:20am

Cheers me dear xxx

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:00am

Thanks all for the comments - I just have to say a HUGE thanks to Julia who prompted the discussion ;-) I love that we can spark thoughts and debate between us. We are a powerhouse of sensitivity and creativity when we get together ;-) xxx

Adrian Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:06am

Fantastic idea.. the new normal ...feels like a gift
A x

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:19am

Thanks Adrian and this blog is a gift to me... you and your comments are all little packages of hope x

susan Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:20am

Hi Adrian, what a perfect thing to say about this blog. I agree completely--a beautiful gift. xx

susan Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:16am

Hi Debs, I remember you and Julia talking about this a few weeks ago and discussing who would write the blog. WOW, WOW! it was well worth the wait! I've sent this to a few people this morning; if this doesn't inspire them to join the group, I don't know what will. Linking depression and repression is true for me often --depression being the direct result of the unfulfillment of what i believe my true potential to be. Everything you and other commenters have said this morning has rung so true and clear. Thank you. xx

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:23am

Ahhh Susan, what kind words! I'm glad you have forwarded it on - the more people that connect on Moodscope the better! Tell me more about your potential?! What do you hope and dream of being and doing?! And what can you do today to take a step closer..... xx

susan Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 9:49am

Oh Debs! It would take all day to formulate an answer to that! My potential is the same as everyone else's -- to ride the life beam, to flow with it freely. I think we all feel it but often don't know how to get on it. That's a general answer to your specific question, I know, and my answer may not make any sense:)....but I will think about this today. You're a sweetie. xx

Leah Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 10:03am

Debs,
I don't want to be normal, whether it is the new normal or the old normal!(i have no idea what norml is other than a setiing on a washing mashine- old joke!!)
I for one like being different, I have always been different been quirky and sometimes eccentric.
Celebrating difference is refreshing.
If everyone is different then the 'normal' ones will be different and the different ones will be the status quo. What will I do then??
Thanks again for your thoughtful blog.

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 10:26am

Brilliant comment Leah!! You are so right, lets drop the word 'normal' from our vocab. We are the... game-changers, future-makers, status-quo shakers, the creatives, the challengers, the thinkers. Thanks for making me think ;-) xx

fiona Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 10:44am

Today's post is spot on. I so relate to it. I don't want to be normal. I am not normal. I have been told I am highly intelligent; I challenge things too much and need to keep my mouth closed. At times, this is good advice. I need to learn when to challenge and how to challenge otherwise I am seen as a bully and trouble maker. My intentions are to ensure the world is a fair place.

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 12:02pm

I think as long as the challenge comes from love we've got nothing to be worried about hun xx

Norman Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 11:24am

So that explains the evolutionary purpose of depression. We ARE the next stage in human evolution...

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 12:03pm

I feel a blog on the evolutionary perspective coming on Norman! And I think you're right, a new collective consciousness is emerging and it has to be the future. Xx

Dolphin Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 12:10pm

Thanks so much Debs and Julia for the paradigm shift. A fantastic example of the powerful results of changing how you look at something - in this case looking at the positives of ourselves as depressives and how many of us contribute to the world in varied ways - public and private.

However, one of the negatives of empathy for me is taking things very personally and Soulman's comments really rang a bell. We've had several years of horrendous acts against other beings and the Charlie Hebdo attacks brought things to a head for me. I too felt that I wanted to resign from the human race and that it wasn't worth continuing if this is how people are. I think medication probably got me out of that pit ... I haven't taken the current attacks quite so personally but it is very difficult to find a way of responding in the general atmosphere of aggression and violence.

My rational head tells me that only a tiny proportion of people are callously violent and that I mustn't project this on to all humans. Most of us want to get through life in a positive and co-operative way and this is what I must focus on even if my contribution is a tiny one of maintaining a non-violent stance.

This has got confused - it is something I need to follow with myself, but it all started with the blog shaking up the way I looked at things. Thank you!

Debs Tue, Nov 24th 2015 @ 7:13am

Dolphin I know what you mean about the horrendous acts... I think all we can do, as the sensitive ones, is to stand our ground in terms of what we believe. The people committing these acts aren't evil - they are just acting out of beliefs that have been planted in their heads since birth. Its not their fault so they need our compassion more than anyone. xx

Dave Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 3:22pm

Recently read a book entitled What to Do When You Don't Know What To Do..In one chapter it stated that depression is the closest thing to Hell as there can be. I agree with that statement, but then realized how strong each and every one of us must be in order to cope and overcome. As difficult as it may be, take time to pat yourself on the back today and say it may not be the best day but I will and have overcome. The normal people will never understand but all of us will. My salute to all of you.

the room above the garage Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 3:41pm

Hi Dave, I thoroughly agree with your comment. And I think seeing ourselves from that angle 'strong to cope with' and not 'lumbered with' is a huge step in our own individual progress. Salute to you! :-) Love ratg xx.

Maria Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 3:26pm

Thanks Debs for letting your inner light shine through! You are brilliant and must not forget that. The world would be a much darker place without you and "our kind" in it. Rest up and rekindle your inner flame :)

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 7:52pm

Thanks Maria, I feel much lighter this afternoon ;-) xx

the room above the garage Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 3:49pm

Wonderful stuff Debs! Dolly Parton...I did not know. My son suffers terrible anxiety and its been foremost for me to teach him that its 'normal'. I remind him "remember, you're the type of person who finds this...and so you/we need to..." I'm pleased to say that after many years, I finally feel we're getting somewhere. The world will catch up us. It did with gay people. To the point where I remember my granny saying how awful it was that (her big idol) Rock Hudson had had to hide himself away. Would anyone like to join me in tatto-ing our foreheads with "I AM NEW NORMAL"? If it gets awkward we can always say we're part of the new Star Wars film :-)

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 7:52pm

Oh yes, I'm off to the tattooist right now! xx

The Gardener Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 6:13pm

Thanks Debs, excellent. I wrote a book on manic depression about 30 years ago - lots still apply, but it's turgid stuff. One chapter was on your mentioning Mozart and co - I found a colossal list of people who gave us the greatest art, music, literature - then, they were genii with mental problems, some very severe - now they would all be 'labelled'. Are we normal? I risk (as always) upsetting somebody. I have written about social, religious, and moral problems world-wide for many years. For my research work I was always coming home at mid-day or 6 p.m. People's living rooms often looked on to the street, and you could see right it. Whenever passing the TV was on. I think these people were 'normal' in that they had no imagination, did what they had to in the day, and the rest went into that square box which has become palliative medicine, a crutch, perhaps a saviour of mariages, because you don't have to talk to each other. The 'abnormality' of depressives seems that they, or somebody, has convinced them that it is THEY who are in the wrong, or go 'over the top' from time to time. Fiona, earlier 'I don't want to be normal'. How right. We want to be ourselves, warts and all - and be accepted. My view of marriage is that if 60% of it is very good, then just tolerate the 40% when the OH drives you bonkers, or retire into a good book. HO compares depression to our weather systems. We were created with a brain and feelings - if they do not suit other people sometimes, then tant pis.

Debs Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 7:55pm

Oh yes, the hours lost to a distracted life. Ive said this before but I believe it very strongly - most people distract themself for a lifetime and then die. Stuff and nonsence. Get out there and live. Bloody well do something for the planet. Tsk tsk. xx

readerwriter Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 8:02pm

Square peg round hole - took the thoughts right out of my head. Now I realise as a collection of depressives the idea of finding a hole that fits may seem too attractive, so maybe I'll "be more square"?! But I'm in agreement that I stand with the eccentrics and the outsiders. Thank you all!

Debs Tue, Nov 24th 2015 @ 7:15am

;-)) xx

Nicola Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 8:18pm

Completely empathise with this feeling of being forced into a hole that doesn't fit, and the feeling is getting stronger as I get older! But we are the lucky people, we are the thinkers, those who don't just buy into the status quo. Excellent post. Good to be part of a community who are are driven by more than the 'bottom line' x

Debs Tue, Nov 24th 2015 @ 7:16am

Exactly Nicola, I'd love to replace that bottom line with a new bottom. And when you've been to rock bottom you certainly know what the real depths feel like xx

Rebecca Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 8:30pm

Great post Debs and Julia.x

Debs Tue, Nov 24th 2015 @ 7:16am

Thanks Rebecca x

Eva Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 10:14pm

Maybe we are diamonds, strong and unusually shaped with many facets. Love Eva

Debs Tue, Nov 24th 2015 @ 7:16am

I love that Eva, totally agree x

Julia Tue, Nov 24th 2015 @ 12:50am


Hi Debs.
I am in Venice and was very pleased to read your blog this morning before I left. Unfortunately I am unable to access your blog again so have asked Leah to post my comment. I don't know what others have said but I recall Norman saying that there have been academic papers written about the evolution of depression. I think certain people are depressed for a reason. I mean maybe it's a defence mechanism or a way of self protection. I wish I could write more about my thoughts on this so I may write another blog about it. I always remember some lyrics of a Madonna song from her album Bedtime Stories which are "Express yourself don't repress yourself"

Debs Tue, Nov 24th 2015 @ 7:18am

Enjoy Venice my dear! I think there is an evolutionary self-protection to depression, its our meaning-making minds trying to slow us down to work out what is going wrong so that we can correct it. (Or something like that - it's a complex area) xx

Slothboy Thu, Nov 26th 2015 @ 5:58pm

Well said.
If I am asked, i describe my depression as a sense of turmoil, when my true inner deep down self is at odds with my life, and the way feel i am "meant" to think and be. The only person you can be is your self. What's more, the only person you you can really be any good at being is your self. I had always assume that others, think and see the world the same way, but it's recently dawned on me that they don't. Other people's expectations, or what you think are other peoples expectations may well not apply to you.
So, be kind to your self, don't berate yourself for when your inner critic starts having a go.
That's what seems to work for me.

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