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Back April 24th, 2012 Forward
Where Meggy's Brane Am Today

There are times when I regret having picked up the psychology units. Now is one of them, mostly because last week's lectures and tutorial discussion for the "Intro to Psychology" unit were about what used to be called "abnormal psychology" - mental illness, the way it's diagnosed and treated and so on. So there was a lot of rather triggering stuff in there, and even though I'm pretty used to dealing with this sort of thing, it does rather back up the mental sewers, so to speak.

One of the key bits which stuck with me was the rendition of the behaviourist perspective on what depression was: a form of "learned helplessness", in reaction to a series of situations in which the person is receiving near constant stress and mental pain, and is unable to alter their circumstances in order to prevent or alter this. Now, this is both a good thing and a bad thing. It's a good thing, in that it basically points out that the depressive reaction is far from being stupid and insensible - in fact, this theory points out that under the circumstances, depression is the only damn thing possible. It stops being a sign of weakness, and instead becomes a wholly sensible and reasonable reaction to the situation - and just being able to see the depression in that light is a Good Thing. It's a not-so-good thing because it got me thinking about what the circumstances could have been in my lifespan to trigger things.

Then along came another article (this one being one I found via the HaT linkspam post) which pointed me at a possible set of triggering circumstances: twelve years of school bullying. Now, this may not seem like much, but it pretty much fits the method for the learned helplessness reaction pretty damn closely: take your subject, put them in uncomfortable circumstances, and make damn certain the subject is aware that no matter what action they take, the uncomfortable circumstances aren't going to go away. In my case, this was school - and it quickly became clear to me that no matter what action I took, the bullies weren't going to stop, and nobody was going to take my side in things - not the teachers, not my parents, not my peers, nobody. Also, there was no way known to mankind my parents were going to pull me out of school just because I was being bullied. So I learned the only thing I could do was endure.

Now, I'm not saying that school bullying was the sole and only factor in my becoming the depressed adult I am today. I grew up with two parents who were both depressed, and at least three out of my four grandparents had depressive patches in their lives, not to mention most of my relations. So there's a strong familial culture of depression, and not that many options for learning non-depressive patterns of thought and action. I suspect there's also a genetic factor, one which responded to a hormonal trigger, because I know that things got a lot worse very abruptly around the time my periods started. So it's likely I would have been prone to depression even if I'd been a popular kid in school, rather than the designated target. What I am saying is that twelve years of school bullying didn't really equip me with any alternative mental strategies for dealing with negative situations other than getting miserable and staying there.

So I'm currently wading through all this (and yeah, I'm weepy as I write this, catharsis is annoying). It comes complete with flashbacks to the worst moments (courtesy of memory pulling these things out to do their turn on the stage of the Grand Old Embarrassing Recollection) and lots of buried pain. Meanwhile, I'm also supposed to be writing an essay for the subject in question, and a lab report for a different psych subject, and the old brain is basically saying "fsck this shit" the whole damn way. All I'm wanting to do is drop my bundle and sleep for a day or so. It's 11.15am, I'm supposed to be diving out the door to go to uni in two minutes, and even after a cup of coffee my get up and go just hasn't got up at all. So I think I'm going to be skipping today's lecture and tutorial, because quite frankly, I'm just not feeling capable of dealing with anything.

Time to indulge the inner three-year-old and her fit of the "don't wannas". Maybe tomorrow I'll be all grown up about things. Right now, though, I think I need a blankie and a hot drink and lots of sulking time.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

location: Not at uni
Current Mood: depressed depressed
Back April 24th, 2012 Forward