Do you think that depressed people are selfish?
Until recently I never bothered with these thoughts, with my life being consumed by depression I had very little time to consider such things.
A certain event back when I was in the military made me think about depression from a different perspective.
You see, back then I normally was doing practically everything alone, and the rest of my ‘unit’, being the social creatures that they were, flat-out refused to just let me spend time by myself.
I gave them a cold shoulder and over time all of them stopped bothering me. Well, almost.
There was this one girl who kept trying to get in touch with me, and she honestly was the worst of the bunch.
She had a terrible sense of humor, she overly energetic and she chose me as her favorite person for some unknown reason.
At the time I considered the option that she liked me or something.
But she really didn’t – she thought I was a miserable person who needed her help, she was an idealist of sorts.
She was only half right.
Perhaps if this was a fiction story then I would get better, accept her help and turn my life around.
But I didn’t do any of those things.
Instead, I squirmed whenever she talked and cringed whenever she addressed me directly.
It took about three weeks of this treatment for her to leave me alone and all I could say is “finally!”
She gave me food for thought
Sometime later, just before boot camp was over, she came over to me and said something rather shocking.
“What’s the matter with you? Do you like being miserable? Urgh, you are so selfish!”
She left, and to this day we have not spoken a single word to each other since, yet this one statement has stuck with me regardless.
I easily ignored her for the longest time, she didn’t know a thing about me after all.
Yet a few days ago I randomly thought of her, and I rolled my eyes once I recalled her behavior.
That is until I realized – I was rolling my eyes!
A person just walked up to me and said that I was being selfish, and I immediately ignored her because her opinion contradicted mine.
I normally try to at least listen to what people have to say before dismissing them.
Was I really being so self-centered this entire time?
The more I thought about it the more I realized that I was selfish.
I only wanted to be alone, to deal with my problems, never considering how it made others feel.
I easily ignored their efforts, believing that they “didn’t understand”.
They really didn’t understand, but that doesn’t make my behavior any better!
It was then that I started considering this question seriously.
Sure, I was being selfish, but there had to be a reason for that, right? I am not a jerk!
Neither are many other depression sufferers, yet this type of behavior is a recurring theme among us.
But why is that, anyway?
Most depressed people are selfish
As someone who has suffered from depression, I feel that I’ve earned the right to say: We, as a demographic are very self-centered.
Are there exceptions to this rule? Sure.
Does this fact make this statement any less valid? Not at all.
The simple fact is that depressed individuals have a medical disorder, or more specifically, a mood disorder.
Some of the defining symptoms of depression have a lot to do with the way that it makes us think.
Depression causes feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and self-hate.
These feelings are dominating and all-consuming, making depression equally dominating and all-consuming.
It is quick to become one’s greatest focus, forcing all attention on it.
As such, depressed people tend to live in their own little worlds, surrounding themselves by their own pain and misery.
Trying to draw their attention away from these thoughts through words isn’t going to do much good, either.
Have you noticed how many depressed people seem to have depressed friends, and how they post on social media a lot of things that have to do with depression and negativity in general?
In some way, their condition becomes a part of who they are, and they seek a sense of companionship, to share their misery.
Surprisingly enough, this is a very human thing to do.
Being selfish is perfectly reasonable
Here’s the deal.
Depressed people may be selfish, but that is perfectly reasonable all things considered.
Think about it, if you broke your arm the only thing you will be thinking about is how much pain you are in.
If some guy just walked up to you when you are holding your arm and asked you to donate to a charity or something you would get pretty pissed off, right?
Personally, if he called me selfish because of that I would punch the idiot in the face with my other arm.
Allow me to present a counter-argument.
Humans are selfish creatures by nature and are being helpful towards others only because they “feel” like it.
For many of us, altruism feels “good”, so we keep at it.
It’s always about “us” and in your case, it’s always about “you.”
And that’s fine.
You are your own number one, even when you aren’t acting like it.
To be selfish is to be human.
So when you face a certain issue that overrides that need to please others you end up coming off as a bad person.
That’s actually a perfect reaction, and anyone would act the same way if they were in your place.
I mean, seriously:
- “Have you ever tried, you know, ‘not’ being depressed?”
- “Have you ever tried, you know, ‘not’ being lactose intolerant?”
Why is this answer considered so unfair towards the lactose intolerant yet rather common regarding the depressed?
They don’t take action
Being self-centered due to depression is perfectly fine, yet my example from earlier wasn’t quite perfect.
When a person breaks their arm the first thought they get is to make the pain stop, to get help.
Yet depressed people don’t do that. Why?
You see, pain increases brain activity, and as such it promotes action.
This is a survival mechanism, and the pain serves as both a motivator and an impulse to get better as soon as possible.
We were born to dislike and avoid pain and this very instinct is what kept us humans alive up to this point.
Depression on the other hand actually reduces brain activity, making us less likely to act.
In other words, people who are feeling pain typically take action to make their pain stop.
On the other hand, people with depression normally don’t act because they don’t have the impulse, the need, to do so.
Or perhaps more specifically, many people simply grow comfortable with their condition, making all efforts to “help them” completely misplaced.
Or so it may appear.
Depressed individuals are not really “happy” with their condition, but they become “content” with it over time.
In comparison, getting used to a missing limb is also possible – It may not be a good thing, but people learn to live with it.
As such, it is very common for them to suffer from their condition yet at the same time do nothing about it and ignore all attempts at help.
Although to be fair, many of these attempts are doing more harm than good.
Selfish as they may seem, they still need help
Most depressed people are selfish.
We can’t help it, it’s in our nature as hurt creatures to focus on what’s hurting us.
Yet most people don’t know how to deal with their condition, with very few of them seeking out any help.
As such, even after considering what that girl said to me back then, I still do not agree with her.
Sure, I was being selfish, but then again, so was she.
After all, isn’t it equally wrong to harass someone who wants nothing to do with you?
Although in the case of depression, this might be a viable course of action.
In my experience, taking action is the only real way to overcome depression, so getting them to take action might be the right thing to do.
That is assuming you care enough about them to try, of course.
After all, relationships are earned, not given.
Before you go, here’s a quick question for you to reflect upon – Do you care enough to try?
If you are depressed, are you willing to take action in order to get better?
If you know someone who is depressed, are you willing to try and help them get better?
Write your answers down in the comment section below, I read every single one of them!
If you got any personal questions that you would like answered then please get in touch with me through my email.