Introduction. Defining Depression
Primarily, depression is about loss. This loss can take many forms: loss of relationships, loss of an ideal, the unreconciled loss of a loved one in death, loss of the capacity to represent internal experience and to therefore connect with others, loss of innocence, and loss of identity (Hugh Cole, 2009). Loss of meaning. Depression can be rooted in trauma that is both consciously and unconsciously experienced, and its causes may be either clearly evident or completely enigmatic to its sufferers. Some aspects are explicitly communicated, whereas others remain impossible to articulate, and at times, even this impossibility can serve as a further representation of loss.
This book focuses on the subjective experience of individuals suffering from chronic depression. In it, I seek to understand each individual’s unique experience of depression, its origins, and how it has affected his or her existential outlook, sense of self, and perceptions of the future. In this work, I specifically seek to preserve the voices of each individual so that what each person had to say will enrich the already existing theoretical literature on depression without getting lost within it. By examining the accounts of multiple individuals who self-identify as chronically depressed, and engaging with common themes that emerge across and within their accounts, my goal is to gain a better understanding of depression as a whole. Each person interviewed for this book was in treatment with a licensed clinician who had diagnosed him or her with major depression. The one exception is Alexa, the person in the last chapter (chapter 11), who carried a different diagnosis but defined her own experience as mainly depressive in nature.