Depression and Resilience

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 5:52am
Depression and Resilience

Watch this TED talk with Andrew Solomon, who breaks the silence we share around depression and asks of us profound empathy for the vitality within the struggle.

Post by:
Mariah Helgeson (@mariahism),  associate producer for On Being
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This TED talk from Andrew Solomon is astounding in its honesty and depth. His words are the words I wish I would have heard when I was in the trenches of a family member's depression. It is a necessary complement to our conversation with Jennifer Michael Hecht on suicide.

If we are to ask those who are in their darkest moments to "stay," then we must ask of ourselves a special kind of empathy. It is impossible to listen to Andrew Solomon and not feel the profound emptiness of depression and the depths that one must travel to reach the surface again. His words are an act of courage, and a comfort to those enmeshed in the struggle.

"The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and these days, my life is vital, even on the days when I'm sad. I felt that funeral in my brain, and I sat next to the colossus at the edge of the world, and I have discovered something inside of myself that I would have to call a soul that I had never formulated until that day 20 years ago when hell came to pay me a surprise visit. I think that while I hated being depressed and would hate to be depressed again, I've found a way to love my depression. I love it because it has forced me to find and cling to joy. I love it because each day I decide, sometimes gamely, and sometimes against the moment's reason, to cleave to the reasons for living. And that, I think, is a highly privileged rapture."

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Mariah Helgeson is an associate producer at On Being. She earned a degree in International Affairs with concentrations in the Middle East and Conflict Resolution from George Washington University. She grew up in Minnesota and was a program associate at the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network. When she’s not submerged in a good book she might be found laughing with her teenage sisters or playing chamber music.

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4Reflections

The beginning of understanding for many....

This "TED talk" by Andrew Solomon is just the best dissertation on the depressive experience that I have ever witnessed or heard; certainly it rises above what a person (such as I) was able to gain from reading, especially while in a depressed condition. While manic, it is practically impossible to read, also; but for different reasons. What he had to say registers as true throughout, and remarkably fresh considering the topic. But I cannot point at any one thing that is new to me except for the forthright delivery and compass-like accuracy with which he is sharing this, unless it is the assured manner or obvious conviction that he knows intimately that of which he is speaking.

one of the best conversations about depression. simply brilliant and honest.

Fantastic insight!

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