unpacking the language of depression

by kawrage

A method I find useful in countering depressive thoughts is to break down the language I use to deride myself. Because very often, the language is one  that reduces individuals and their contributions to economic units, and human connections to mere transactions. And all this of course is nothing new; much has been written about the links between neoliberal economy (and the heteropatriarchal, racist, classist structures that thrive under it) and mental health.

“I deserve to die” 

Several theorists and academics have written about state sovereignty and the power to decide which bodies deserve to live. The power to decide which bodies are discardable and to measure levels of humanity. The power to decide who is human, just-human or un-human. So by declaring that I do not deserve to live, what am I implicitly saying about my own self and humanity?

“I am worthless”

How is a person’s value quantified? Does quality rule over quantity? Is there a bonus system? To what extent is a sense of worthiness tied to one’s ability to keep the wheels of capitalism churning? Do I feel stripped of my worth because according to societal norms, I simply do not measure up? And how can human emotions and the delicate, intricate ways we touch each others’ lives be measured?

“I am useless”

What is the correlation between need and greed? Greedy for affirmation, needy for purpose. Need and greed to find a place in a global system. But what are the implications of reducing our relationships to utilising others and being utilised by others? Who do we wish to be utilised by? Am I a utility?

Employing such an analysis might not cure the depression, but it does insert a space between myself and the crippling, depressive thoughts. And it is that small space that I’ve constructed for myself that keeps me functioning.

“But what does it mean to reduce a person to a set of functions?”