Depression, the Secret We Share is a TED talk by Andrew Solomon. The video is freely available on YouTube and I imagine it would probably be interesting for most about anyone despite whether or not they have an interest in psychology or depression. Solomon voices some very keen insight on what one might call the meta aspects of depression; most importantly his idea that the opposite of depression is not happiness but vitality.  Simple yet brilliant, the larger implications of this philosophical shift could be enormous in its potential to transform the way our society deals with the disease. From my own personal experience, moving away from my binary conceptualization of depression was only able to take place until I reached an individual breaking point, at which point I was finally willing to consult a doctor with an “I’ve got nothing to lose” mindset. Hopefully in the future (as Solomon notes in his speech) more people will have better access to both information and care.

Solomon begins with an Emily Dickinson poem, "I felt a Funeral, in my Brain."


And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading—treading—till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through—

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum—
Kept beating—beating—till I thought
My Mind was going numb—

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space—began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here—

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down—
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing—then.


He then catalogs his own individual experience with depression noting another birds-eye perspective that one of the most burdensome intricacies of the “mentality” is that most people are able to realize the absurdity of their handicap while they’re actually living it—which in turn creates an endless feedback loop of increased self-loathing. There are many more worthwhile nuggets from the presentation. Solomon touches on anxiety, the idea of truth vs. delusion, and depression as it relates to an individual’s socioeconomic status

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