When the media talk about depression, more often than not they will focus upon the individual. They will talk about depression as an illness and will include within this discussion the array of treatments available - such as drugs and various therapies.
Such thinking is politically biased. By placing the responsibility for recovery on the individual, treatments already pre-suppose a judgement about the very nature of depression.
I have never suffered from sever forms of depression - I have never seriously contemplated taking my own life for instance. In such circumstances, outside intervention may be justified. (Already one is working within a standard set of criteria. How much can one argue that 'honour suicides' in ancient Japanese culture be a result of depression?)
Like most people, I have often suffered mild depression. Thinking about how this has arisen enlightens falsities within the standard debates on mental illness.
When I get 'depressed' - this normally happens when certain circumstances conspire to make me powerless. In work, were power structures are rigorously imposed, the injustices of being treated in various ways can get me down.
So say, for instance, a silly rule is imposed on the workforce generally. Imagine that employees are only allowed to go to the toilet once outside of allocated breaks on any given day. At first glance, this may seem reasonable. Your employer is paying you for your time and does not expect to be paying while you are on the brick reading a newspaper.
But then consider, why such a rule has to be formalized in such a way. Have a few 'bad apples' ruined it for everyone? Why then not deal with the individuals concerned? Why impose order onto the whole workforce in such a way?
I would argue that such a formal approach helps the workforce self-regulate. Managers, if they are any good as managers, actually want to do very little hands on management. Better to delegate this responsibility collectively and have the workforce stay compliant through self-regulation.
So why does all this get me down? Such rules remind me of my powerlessness within these circumstances. My self-worth is effected because I am not being treated as an individual but as a number when I operate within theses structures. I am only treated as an individual when I deviate, when I break a rule and then I am taken to account.
Depression, as a medical category, is a way of treating deviant behaviour. Not only should one remain and operate within the rules of the workplace, one should also remain happy and cheerful - especially in sales type roles! It is not enough to have compliant behaviours, one should also have compliant thoughts and complaint moods.
It is actually okay to be down sometimes. It is part of a range of human emotions that are necessary to function in a healthy way. Recognizing when one is depressed can also help identify ones own priorities and values in life. It is part of the inner voice that can be contrary to the wider pressures within the environment.
I like to try and imagine a Wittgenstein or Einstein in my circumstances to see how they might have coped. They would have suffered greatly I am sure. Not that I can be compared to such people..., but it helps illustrate my point.
I am a unique individual who will not take sole responsibility for any depression I suffer - especially when that depression is understood within the context of a deviant or abnormal mode of being within the world.