Lydia at Don’t Drink and Don’t Drive takes a thoughtful shot at a subject near and dear to my heart and mind: depression as a treatable illness for a chosen few, as opposed to one that is simply a character defect for most. Depending on who one talks to in AA, it is one or the other, but who you open up to and how certainly depends whether you happen to be in a discussion meeting or hunched over a cup of coffee with a fellow struggler.
And of course, Lydia — a staunch supporter of AA — had me at:
As I hope we all know, AA is not an inherently safe place, and people can find someone to say just about anything there.
That being said, it’s good to keep in mind that we’re all a bunch of pros, when it comes right down to where the rubber meets the road, as Lydia points out:
Alcoholics can and do use all of these to manipulate people including doctors and therapists. They can and do use all of these things to manipulate the people in their lives. They can and do use these things to avoid sobriety, to avoid work, to obtain drugs, to get or avoid attention.
As one who has been on various anti-depressants much of my life, I would be the first to say I’d rather not take them. I’ve tried. It hasn’t worked too well for me, so this is simply something I’m pretty much resigned to. But she also brings up a question I’ve kicked around for years and have found no satisfactory response:
So, to answer the question, is there a line between the illness and the character defect? I think there is, but it’s a dotted line, not a solid line (my emphasis – gw). A person who has the mental illness can still suffer from the character defect, and probably does, as we all do to some degree. It may be harder for that person to deal with the character defect.
I have found that for me there are seasons when I tend to feel more strongly that depression is a character defect that can be addressed through spiritual, psychological and emotional strategies. Then there are those times when I am convinced beyond any doubt that I must simply resign myself to this state of mind and heart.
Read all of Lydia’s post. Good stuff.