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This was really kind of a throw away conversation I was using to get to the next section, but apparently a lot of people feel seen. This is certainly a subject I know a lot about so it was going to come up sooner or later, but it moved naturally so I just went with it. Mental illness isn’t something you overcome in a relationship in a single interaction. Sometimes you never do, but if you want to try you eventually have to make an effort. Thomas can’t hide his shame, even though he’s trying to be detatched on some level. He’s not someone who likes to look weak, unless he can use it to his advantage, but it’s different with Carol… Anyway. I’ll leave you to read in anything else.

28 Comments

I’ve had this conversation in some form or another many, (sigh) many times over the years. It’s almost refreshing to see it here somehow

I just want to say I hate you. I stopped reading what is essentially the Webcomic form of Heroin about 8 years ago. I was mulling around last week and was reminded of the of the Thomas Monologue shortly after the color switch. I spent 6 or 7 days, desperately searching for this comic. I found it yesterday and proceeded to be completely unproductive until I read EVERY SINGLE POST. Now I am sitting hear, completely done and sad I can only get 3 a week. Thanks for you what you do. It is amazing and I love every moment of it. Having not read the comic for ages, it felt like I got to experience all kinds of character development that really made me happy to consume.

It’s nice to see it talked about here…my partner has the engineer mindset, “If you have a problem let’s fix it!” Attitude that completely clashes with depression and mental illness. There’s no real logical switch or tangible problem that can be talked out in one session, or hammered out with force. If only…if only.

Things have improved in our relationship, but only when we were willing to understand each other and exercise patience. This year has been tough for everyone and I hope, the silver lining to all this, is that mental illness is taken more seriously, or at least with more empathy, in general society.

My go to explanation to people like that is. Depression is like a bug in a computer code. You identify the bug fix it and then have 10 new bugs so no matter how many “fixes” you come up with there is always a problem that can’t be explained.

“Stuck in sad and no one can find the switch” is a nice way to put it. A good amount of the time my depression is because I don’t have a good enough reason to be sad so I just feel so guilty and unworthy of feeling sad. People are complicated.

People are so complicated, but we cannot give in to the machines just yet, they are not yet complicated enough. We will just have to support each other and muddle through until we are perfect or the singularity, … either works.

Someone up and went and took my depression away (don’t ask me how, they did relate how it wasn’t a fun thing to do), and in my suddenly much more clear head there was a hole through which came in oozing the depressing blackness. And I put a sock in it. Mentally, of course, but it did work.

For those with depression but no access to someone with that sort of ability, perhaps clearing your head through meditating, mentally cleaning house, dealing with every dark thought by shining a little sunshine on it until even the last one goes away, might give enough clearheadedness to find the hole and plug it. If that is indeed how your depression works. I really only know about mine. I can tell you it sat fairly deep, and it wouldn’t surprise me if not everybody has that sort of access to their own mind.

Speaking as someone dealing with depression (among other issues), it best to think of this as something you have to work around, not through. The closest condition I can think of is diabetes, in that it something that will never truly go away, but it can be managed. Granted, unlike diabetes, there is no proven way to manage it that works for every last person. One just has to struggle through the bad days as well as the good days.

^^^^This. Totally this. Before I read this comment I was going to post that it’s like HIV or Herpes…it can never be permanently fixed (at least not currently) but it can be managed with good therapy and good medications (which can take a long time to find the right one for you. It’s basically trial and error). The best thing to do is find a good therapist, a good doctor that isn’t just a drug slinger, and surround yourself with people that lift you up and in turn…even on the bad days…you try to lift them up. I don’t suffer from chronic depression, but I do have bouts of acute depression and many of my family members have chronic depression. One is even bipolar and that’s a very hard journey for them. There is no quick fix or a one size fits all fix because all our brain chemistries are different but you can totally manage the disease with the right pieces in place. The trick is finding those right pieces. Never give up though! Perseverance pays off. Eventually everyone will find what works for them to manage it if they have the endurance to try hard enough but I get it, not everyone is built that way either. Mental Illness is just such a big problem that no one really wants to acknowledge because it’s some kind of perceived weakness when it isn’t. It’s often a chemical imbalance or the brains response to a highly traumatic event. It just means you’re sick. No different than someone that caught COVID. It’s not your fault necessarily, it just happened and should be treated as such. We don’t shame people that catch the flu nor should we shame those with bipolar disorder or chronic depression.

Thank you both (jmcscore and Starscreamer) for sharing. Your messages are appreciated and supportive. In dealing with Megatron I have no doubts Starscream would be vulnerable to depression if he wasn’t already some variety of psycho/socio-path.

These days I think the field more often describes depression and other brain trauma as a wound rather than a disease. However I suspect either analogy is imperfect, in the same way light is not exactly a wave or a particle. (I do however like the wound analogy because it allows for degrees of meaning. A small cut is a wound, as is having everything removed below your pelvis because of an IED. They’re both wounds, but one can heal without a scar and the other is with you until you’re dead)

Depression can be either (or both) situationally induced (a localized/isolated or short series of incidents) or it can be clinical (caused by either previously ongoing/persistent trauma or a biological chemical disorder). (not a therapist, just a living hot mess having both drivers at the wheel).

My personal take on depression has been in response to a media personality once wishing a depressed star well, and “good luck getting past it.” The media person completely failed to grasp that the star had persistent clinical depression (as per their public address) and this wasn’t going to be something to just “be got past”. I see my situation as being closer to a war. A constant, unescapable war, with a new battle everyday, if I don’t just wake up still stuck in yesterday’s battle. There’s only one way I am going to win this war, and it won’t be because drugs make me better, or therapy makes me better, or some magic person takes it away. If I win this war, it is only going to be because I die of something other than depression (i.e. not by suicide).

Drugs, therapy and good people are helping, I guess, but it’s been a long long time since the only reason I’m alive is cause I am too afraid to die. (not of being dead, that holds no fear, but of the actual process of dying and guilt over hurting my friends and family that way).

For anyone else interested in more media/art portrayals of depression/illness, Clay’s _depression comix_ is very well done. He also lists a large number of resources on his help page.

Jackie, thank you. Thank you for sharing your experience, and thank you for including the topic as a part of the lives of your characters. It is refreshing to see depression included and talked about, without it completely dominating the script or tone of the comic. Like any cultural element, it is too often the defining characteristic of a character if it’s discussed at all. Ooh this is bob, he’s in a wheelchair. And this is the black dude, the cheerleader, the asian, the gay/lesbian etc… tokenism for any of these is weak, but like Eyeore, depression is often ignored as an ok token element.

In spite of my age I was only diagnosed as being autistic a couple of years ago. When I tell people of this discovery I am met with two reactions: 1. That’s ridiculous I have known you forever you have never been autistic. And 2. Well it certainly explains a lot. I am firmly in the second camp. Nothing to do about it at this point but it does explain a lot.

If you haven’t seen it, (sorry I can’t recall which) one of Jim Jeffries comedy specials touches on this as well. It might be “this is me now”. It’s not sensitive, he’s mining his own experience for a laugh. But it is very honest.

To be seen. That’s an odd way of stating it. Although, standing out like Richard Kiel next to the guy who played tattoo on “FANTASY ISLAND” doesn’t render the perception of mental illness any different.

But, in light of the 22 veterans a day who don’t seem to be as aware as Thomas, it’s good to see it personified to where some new people can recognize that a book can not be judged by its contents or its cover alone. Some people can put on a facade, some people can’t. Just remember, Thomas is putting himself out there, I’m thinking that it’s new ground for him.

But I’m also thinking that his machinations as revealed to the newly promoted boss, the games booth guy, may have been one of Thomas’ sharpest coping tools in dealing with his depression. I’m also wondering if Thomas has identified his Achilles Heel yet. And if he’ll reveal it to Carroll

Thank you for these pages. It helps those of us with these issues to see them being held to the light in an intelligent and understanding way.

Not to be difficult, and I’m sorry to disagree with the other posters, but this seems wildly wrong to me. Sadness is a normal, healthy emotion with specific causes. It can be fixed in some cases, and worked around in others. Living with perpetual sadness is a horrible life, but you can still see what would get you out of it. If you’re lonely, you need companionship; if you feel like a burden, you need to find a way to contribute, etc. Depression is more when your entire range of emotions are muted; joy, sadness, fear, anger, love, even lust, are all suppressed. You just stop feeling 90% of what’s there; what would have gotten a big smile from you now gets a nod of acknowledgement at best. It’s like living in an endless gray fog instead of the variety of rain, snow, sunshine, nighttime, etc. Inside Out had a much better depiction, clearly differentiating the two (in fact, that was the entire theme of the movie).

I’m only really objecting because, from everything I’ve ever read and from what my own psychologists have told me over the years, conflating depression and sadness is like the number one thing that confuses people and gets in the way of getting treatment/helping others get treatment. Depressed people don’t even feel sadness all that strong; their grandma dies and it’s “Oh…that’s sort of unfortunate. Huh. I don’t like that.” If you are actually SAD, even for a long time, you need one kind of treatment, one kind of lifestyle change, to cope with that sadness, to accept that loss or lack. If you are depressed, you need a completely different approach, different therapy, a new perspective, to learn to feel life again, the ups and the downs.

You’re welcome to believe whatever you like about depression, but this right here is based on my lived experience. The way I experience the absolute worst kind of depression is like a hyper state of grief. You can argue the semantics of it however you like, but sadness without a cause IS a component of depression for me. I have had a muted version of it where I felt nothing & it was frankly far more bearable than existing in a state of constant greif. I lived that way for over a year. So I’ll thank you kindly not to tell me what was branded into my soul.

That is terrible, and I’m sorry to hear that you had to suffer in that way. I’ve experienced both the constant crushing misery and dull gray emptiness in my life time, one transitioning into the other then back again after the death of my father. I’m fortunate enough to be adept at living with the emptiness, so most simply see it as stoicism.

“So I’ll thank you kindly not to tell me what was branded into my soul.”

Isn’t that what this particular comic strip was about; attaching together a name and a condition? At no point did I insult or belittle you, your condition, your experiences, or anything else; I only objected to what seems to me factually wrong from the mouths of psychologists and therapists, not to mention actual research. I never said “If you feel this, you’re wrong!” or “Suck it up, this thing over here is the only real problem!” I just said it’s a different problem with a different identity, and that confusing the two actually confuses people and prevents them from getting help or gets them on the wrong path. There is a reason anti-depressants have a surprisingly low success rate; because a ton of people don’t have depression, they have a different problem, and even PCPs have a bad habit of confusing sadness for depression and giving the wrong medication.

There is more than one way to suffer depression, you know.
Unexplainable, persistent sadness as well as a complete loss of emotion are both facets of the same disorder. You can have one or both.

It’s not really fair to argue that the people experiencing the sad version of it need to get over it and change their lifestyles. You can be persistently sad no for real justifiable reason when you have a depressive disorder. You could have lots of positive things going on and still feel a pervasive sense of unworthiness or anxiety that it will all disappear, which can make you feel sad despite all of those things.

I’ve personally been diagnosed with major depression and have both been persistently sad and also stopped feeling sad in order to not feel anything. You could say they are related stages.

Thank you for sharing your experience BMW. It does not reflect my own experience. I get that you’re description is intended to put the reader in your shoes, but it seems to come off as telling those who experience depression differently that “no, you’re all wrong.” If you want to share again in the future may I suggest, instead of phrasing which tells other people what their experience is, to speak directly to the experience you have lived. This makes it both more likely to have your experience heard and recognized and less likely to have another person feel like they have been devalued or discounted.

I didn’t post to have my experience heard, I posted to try and correct a common misconception of depression so that it doesn’t mislead people. I don’t want people who are NOT constantly sad to go “Oh, so that’s depression? Well I certainly don’t have that!” when they, in fact, have depression. I don’t think it was done in ill will, but it shocked me because it’s…it’s almost like something you’d see on a FAQ about depression. The Q would be “I’ve been really sad; am I depressed?” and the answer would be “It’s possible, but depression is far more than just being sad, and is usually more defined by a persistent loss of energy and enthusiasm and a general lowering of emotional range in general”. I’m not saying depression doesn’t come with sadness, of course it does, sometimes you break down from the weight of it, but constant powerful, overwhelming emotion is very different from constantly muted, weak emotion.

Anyway, hope everyone had a good New Year.

I am so glad I found this comic again! Just read through the whole thing in…. Two days? Wish there was more, can’t wait to see through this arc and beyond!

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