Mourning/Grief vs. Depression.

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Dutch Uncle

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Mourning/Grief vs. Depression.
« on: June 01, 2016, 11:21:28 AM »
Mourning has been a subject that has come up more than once in my recovery. As it has in other periods of my life. Depression too.

I've long wondered if I'm depressed at times, or if it is something else. Like having a bad day, or feeling down. Often that's called "I'm depressed", but I have been told depression itself is a different thing.
But now this thought was triggered by a news article on the new DSM, where "complex mourning" will be added. So I had a look around what "complex mourning" is. (in short: it's a prolonged period of mourning over the death of a loved one, more than 6 months. Which presumably excludes the 'anniversary-blues', which is very common if not 'par of the course'.)

As a by catch I stumbled on these definitions of Depression and Mourning.
- When having a depression the Inner World is empty.
- When mourning the Outer World is empty.
(source (apparently): Freud (1913) Trauer und Melancholie (Mourning and Melancholia) )

This fits with what a dear friend has told me about her depressions (she's bipolar): she experiences a great inner emptiness. I will not go into details, but when she explained I started to feel almost sick. And I knew I have never had such an experience.
And the periods I have felt 'depressed' have always been when something in the 'outer world' went missing: a relationship breakup, job loss, the divorce of my parents, a failed exam or study etc.

I thought I'd share. Perhaps others are having the same question: am I in mourning, or am I depressed?


***the personal meaning of the above in my recovery***
For me personally having seen this simple distinction between the two is actually helpful. As I am in mourning (for much longer that 6 months) over the loss of my field of work. That it takes so long in my case, is because (I think) I was never allowed to mourn. And I can't remember there has been any mourning whatsoever in my FOO.
When my mom's mother died I was young (6) and she went alone to her hometown, and the rest of my FOO only went over for the funeral. Of her brother's funeral I remember little, even though I was an adult then. But that may be that his FOC wasn't too bereaved as my Uncle had had a long psychological struggle with his war-experiences in the Dutch Indies just after WW II. "he finally has his peace now" was the mantra of his children and wife. (Although I suspect it may have been in fact about his (and my mom's) mom (my grandma) suicide threats she made to anybody in her FOC. Uncle spoke about his war-trauma's with his pastor. Endlessly. Why not go to a veterans-centre? Well, if it was really about his mom, that would make a lot more sense. Especially as he never told anybody else about his war-trauma's. He only trusted the pastor. Perhaps there was no real war-trauma, but was it a convenient excuse as to why he went to see him? Or he and his FOO thought it better not to air the dirty family-laundry in public? Who knows. I do not intend to find out...
At the funeral of her brother in Law she was very flashy dressed. Very inappropriate. A jezebel. And I must confess that's the only time in my life I have thought of that word. This was shortly after her divorce, or perhaps even during the two and a half year divorce ordeal. She was dressed as for a party. The sight of her couldn't be missed. She was more sulking than grieving.

Dad? As I have mentioned earlier I suspect him to be an Aspergers, which is possibly why (externally) he hasn't shown any mourning when his mother, his father and recently his brother and best friend since high-school died. When I asked him, a few times over the weeks following the death of his brother and friend, he said he couldn't say, and what he did say was all very matter-of-fact. Like "now I'm the only one left of my FOO" with an expressionless face and voice. That was it.

So I think I simply never learned to mourn, or associate the feelings with mourning, but rather with depression. Or so my TherapistMom would like me to believe, which is a distinct possibility. Another 'flaw'.
Neither of my parents ever told me I was mourning, and that is was OK. Perhaps because both, each in there own way, don't mourn the way "non's"/NT's do.

Long story short: I now know for sure I'm mourning and I do not need anti-depressants. I wondered if I should, but I also guess that if I had been depressed the psych-team that looked at my anxiety and did the SCID-II test with me would have spotted a depression for sure.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2016, 04:52:46 PM by Dutch Uncle »

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Danaus plexippus

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Re: Mourning/Grief vs. Depression.
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2016, 07:27:33 PM »
Shrinks don't necessary tell you everything on your medical record, supposedly for your own good. I was told I had dysthymia. The meds I'm prescribed are for major depression. Three days after my husband died I exhibited evidence of a debilitating physical condition. 4 operations and 18 months later there is less physically inside me than I was born with. 3 month after my husband died our tom cat died. 6 months after my husband died the national office transferred me from the office where I had worked for 20 years, where my best friends were and all the people I had gone through 9/11 with. Then my mother died, my apartment got destroyed in a fire, my only sister died and the extended FOO dropped me like a rock. So here I am, a childless, orphaned widow, who's only sister is dead. I moved into my car with 2 of the remaining cats I was able to rescue from the burning building, no thanks to the police or firemen. They restrained me from going back for the last cat. Every so often I practice counting backwards from 100 by sevens. That's what they make you do here in the US to prove you are not insane.