When I was in college, I saw counselor. He told me “Well, it’s kind of like you have depression, but not really.” He put me on some anti-depressants, which weren’t nearly as nice as they are today. No effect.
My sister is reading “Shoot The Damn Dog: A Memoir Of Depression” by Sally Bromfield. I picked it up when I stopped at her house to replace the batteries in her remote thermometer (and also ended up slamming down her porch stairs on my back.)
The beginning has three themes:
- Depression is a disease that needs to be helped with medical intervention
- Conventionality can be resumed even if we are always hunted.
- We are not alone no matter how much depression is a disease of alienation
The first theme, of medicalization, is a constant issue in the trans community. While I believe people have the right to modify their body, I have real trouble seeing that modification as a cure or even as a sex change, though through changing some characteristics of our body, we can more easily and comfortably express our own gender.
To me, the key benefit of medicalization is the benefit of authority and affirmation of our own inner knowledge. “The doc says that I have a condition, so I have to make some changes. They aren’t just indulgent changes, they are really professionally authorized to benefit my health.”
The second theme, that the goal is to regain a conventional life that others can easily understand, well, that I have issues with that I have discussed.
It’s the third theme, the idea that depression is a disease of alienation, that interested me.
I know that doctors sometimes induce a coma into patients who need time to heal. It puts the brain into a kind of hibernation, to offer the chance for recuperation.
Growing up trans, I felt the stigma when I showed my nature. That was the pressure that made me choose; did I deny my nature and attempt to be normative, or did I accept the alienation and stay with myself, even if that caused separation from community?
I chose alienation.
If depression is a disease of alienation, as Ms. Bromfield posits, then by making that choice, I was making the choice to create an induced depression, learning to have a kind of depression to keep me playing small. I was alienated from my family, from my community and even from my own body.
The problem is that my induced depression isn’t about the way my brain works. Rather it is about a society is that is alienated to me and my nature, and my response to that society.
(I liked the quote Ms. Bromfield used from an alcoholic: “Religion is for people who don’t want to go to hell; Spirituality is for people who have already been there.”)
I do believe that I have depression.
I just have self-induced depression, which is different.
I need to connect with a society that is ready and willing to connect with me, and that just isn’t returning to the conventional.
It may include some medicos stating that I really need to emerge, that not emerging is just causing decay and corruption across my body, but in many ways, that has happened. I do hope that my younger sisters get to come out, though, to be able to be connected rather than alienated.
Self-induced depression to stay small and embrace alienation.
Don’t think they have a drug for that.