“Shutting out all uncertainties, disturbance and uncomfortable threats is the essence of the defense of depression. You cut yourself off, you throw up a wall, surround yourself with a barrier and you are, you hope, safe and certain. Of course the prison walls are not impenetrable, some things do break through to disturb you and there are things inside yourself which you cannot shut out, and they will plague you, just as the continuing isolation will bring increasing pain. But the defense of depression will shut out the great uncertainties, and, though you feel miserable, you feel secure…
Inside the safety of depression you can refuse to confront all the situations that you find difficult. You can avoid seeing people, going to places, as a symptom of an illness, when really it is a reasonably effective defense.
If you are trying to shut out all those matters which you find uncontrollable, threatening and confusing, you cannot give those matters the careful scrutiny they need if you are to make a decision about them. They create such turmoil in your mind that you decide that it is best not to decide. You can say, ‘I am depressed. I cannot make any decisions.’
By deciding not to decide we can feel that everything that is bothersome will vanish and everything else will remain the same. But, of course, things do not disappear just because we ignore them, and nothing does remain the same. Everything is changing all the time, and we are always part of that change…
Decisions are much easier to make when you know what the consequences will be. The consequences of spending the day in bed with the blankets over your head are fairly easy to predict – you’ll miss a day’s work, your home won’t be cleaned, your family will complain, there be nothing in the fridge for you to eat, and so on -while the consequences of going out and facing the world are much harder to predict.”
COMMENT: I think that most of us, having been depressed at one time or other, have experienced our depression as a defense. I have used it as a defense to keep family and friends away when I was depressed. I also found it a helpful defense to prevent me from taking a positive action in my own recovery.
The harder friends and family tried to unlock my prison –(I had the key) the more difficult was it for them to enter.
What has been your experience with depression? Did you see it as a defense?
Dorothy Rowe. The Depression Handbook (1991) Collins. London. England. Excerpts from Pages 108-109.
Published also in 1991 as Breaking the Bonds, Fontana, London. England.