Contemporary theory offers the idea that every individual has their own emotional level. For those whose “resting state” is contentment, depression is easier to slip into. Happiness and joy are harder to sustain. In my case, that truth comes with some other factors. I’ve always had health problems and protective parents and family discouraged me from doing many of the things I really wanted to growing up. That grew into a habit of caution and planning. Unfortunately, I find that if I plan things too thoroughly, I no longer really want to do them. I feel as if I’ve already done them and start looking for the next interesting thing.
I’m pretty sure one of my best talents, playing a movie in my head as I read or listen to books, contributes to this. I also used to be a lucid dreamer. I rarely even remember, much less control, my dreams anymore. I became a perfectionist and eschewed emotion for logic. This led to stress, insomnia and a chain of autoimmune and stress-related illnesses. (Migraine, lican planus, irritable bowel, and fibromyalgia are ongoing.) I worked on relaxing easing down my perfectionist thermostat. I pretty much lost the lucid dreaming when we controlled the insomnia with Elavil (amitriptyline hcl) and deeper sleep controlled the fibromyalgia. (I’m pretty sure the divorce and lifestyle changes helped too!)
If I had to condense my philosophy (philosophies?), this would be the result:
My life is just as important, but no more important, than the life of any other living creature.
Quality of life is more important than quantity and that evaluation is solely mine.
Live this life now (tomorrow isn’t guaranteed).
Living is just filling the time between being born and dying.
Some might find the above principles insufficient … and sometimes I do. I don’t bond easily with people. I have trouble sustaining routines. I don’t think that I’d be much missed if I disappeared (but see #1 above). I think about suicide, but much less than I did as a teenager. I live an intellectual life although I make an effort to check how I “feel” about my actions and decisions. I prefer solitude over emotional drama and demanding relationships. What other people think of me doesn’t matter too much, but I prefer not to appear weak or needy. I have standards and ethics and often judgemental of both myself and others. I keep waiting to feel like a “grown-up” and yet I have problems identifying with who I was in earlier periods of my life.
So, back to the main question: Which came first, depression or health issues? I think health issues have shaped my life since birth and that affected how I saw the world and how optimistically I viewed life. So, for me, first the health issues and then the depression in a never-ending cycle of varying degrees.