Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Grief Vs Depression

I have been involved in an argument on facebook about "grief" this afternoon (very mature, I know - there were some classic lines that I should send Supa for "shit-people-say-to-widows").

But it actually turned out to be a misunderstanding where the other person had confused grief with depression.

To me, grief is something that I live with everyday.
It is simple: I miss Greg. I wish he was here. I feel sad about the loss of the life we should have had. It makes me feel fearful and anxious at times and at other times, it helps me to feel compassion and understanding.
Talking about it here (and on facebook and letting the demons out on my personal blog) has really helped me to learn to live with it.
It lives with me, it bites sometimes, but it no longer controls me: I hold down a job, I care for my children and I watch them develop into decent, caring human beings.

Depression is something very different. I have tasted it. I have spent evenings wallowing in it. I have tried constructing "exit plans" at two in the morning (which were destined to fail).
I have contemplated drinking myself into oblivion on more than one occasion (but haven't - somebody has to be the parent here).
I'm fairly sure most of us have felt depression's darkness at some point.

But I recovered from it.

I know I wont ever "recover" from grief.
...and I don't really want to.
Grief is as much a part of my life as joy is.

The darkness and the light sit side by side.

PS - Sorry if you were expecting a valentine's lament today, but we never really fell in for the hype, so it's not something I think about enough to construct a post on.


  1. Amanda, I understand completely why you elected not to comment on Valentine's Day. My husband and I refused to get swept up in the commercialism of the day. We didn't need to spend money to tell each other how much we loved the other. Yet, oddly, today I feel exceptionally sad, lonely and forgotten without him nearby. My second "V" day without him.

    Additionally, I couldn't agree with you more about the difference between grief and depression. Well Said! Thank you!!!!

  2. Amanda,
    I for one thank you for NOT posting a Valentine's blog!

  3. I thank you, too. I want to pretend it doesn't exist even though we never made a big deal out of it. I resent the notion that everyone has a "someone special" to be their Valentine. Although, I guess if I can accept a wider definition of love, I have lots of people who are my "Valentine". Gonna go ask a few girlfriends to be my Valentine right now, actually!

  4. That makes so much sense. Not "recovering" from grief. I had an argument on FB after my fiance's ex (of over five years ago) had a hard time reading a couple of my posts. I learned that not everyone is empathetic to the people going through this struggle. The fact that someone would want to "argue" with you over something when your entitled to your opinion no matter what and you have way more important things and feelings to deal with is selfish on their part. I am also glad u didn't post a "woe is me, its Valentine's Day" post. I've seen a lot of that and I had to get off FB for a week. It feels good to separate. Wishing you strength and love on this day and the ones to follow....

  5. Great post, Amanda .... and so true. Two very different things that sometimes intertwine in a kind of dance together. But a person can certainly have one in her/his life without having the other.
    Depression can come and go (or come and stay for some of us), but once grief comes, it settles in and becomes a part of you. And you learn to be ok with that. After a while.

  6. I love this because it is so true. I went through depression in 2005. I went on celexa and after about a year I did get over it. I know people who live with depression for a lot longer. When my husband was in the trauma unit for all those weeks and then died I had never experienced grief and was scared that it would lead me back down the road to depression. I asked to be put prophilactically(sp?) on my meds again. I ended up taking myself off of them and to my surprise the sadness and longing for my old life with Brian never moved to that very dark place where not caring about anything and not feeling anything for anyone were standard. With grief I have lots of feelings. Lots of love and that love can sting and crying releases th anger and sadness. I can go on and I have been moving foward the last year, despite how painful that moving further away from my 12/21/10 self has been. I think some people feel like everyone who faces loss must be depressed. Can grief start you down that path...sure...will it...not nessesarily.

    1. No truer words than "I won't recover from grief".
      I will live with grief forever. It is a part of my soul. I too am sad and grieve for the life we should have had together. And on this day I will lament my loss but tomorrow I will get up and get dressed and get living again. But I will always grieve.

    2. Thanks for this post, Amanda - marking the distinction between grief and depression. I continue to have this argument with my doctors - they just want to give me anti-depressants for my "extended grief" (that's my actual diagnosis!)- apparently they think 2 & 3/4 years is an "extended" period of time to grieve for my husband. I keep trying to tell them that a pill won't cure my grief. I'm not depressed, I'm grieving, and sorry Dr. but I'm not finished yet. I may take this post with me next time.

  7. Just thought I would add another thought here. I heard a man speak over the holidays that had lost his son many years earlier. He had written a book about grief, faith and renewal of faith. He spoke about the difference between men and women. He said both men and women feel the same greif, but men often don't know how to show it. Probably many reasons why. He used the word "mourn" to describe the way we show our greif....tears, words, visible sadness......His point was that to mourn is healthy, but that he felt women tend to be better at it than men. It doesn't mean men don't grieve, its just that they aren't very good at it. I guess this helps me a little. It explains my behavior and sometimes helps me with the behavior of others.