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The Devil Made Me Do It! by Clancy Sigal

“It wasn’t (co-pilot) Andreas Lubitz who flew a plane into a mountain; it was his disease…a biological disorder…a disintegration of ego boundaries,” claims the Stanford biologist and neurosurgeon Robert Sapolsky in a recent LATime Op Ed about the “disease” of depression.
“The Germanwings crash had 150, not 149, victims.” Dr. Sapolsky means Lubitz and his “biological disorder” was the 150th.   Oh, right.
Who wants to argue with such a credentialed doctor about depression “destined to afflict about one in every six humans at some point in their lives” and causes 40,000 Americans to kill themselves each year?
Dr. Sapolsky describes depression as a “neurochemical disorder”.  More accurately, he evokes a nasty condition   in which “every cell in the body drowns with groundless anguish and with suffocating feelings of being helpless and hopeless…a chest crushing…sadness.”
I’m a long-time “sufferer” (in quotes) of depression, chronic anxiety, panics, nightmares and psychopathic neurosis (a condition I’ve just invented).  Because I’m still in the trenches, I’ll match my credibility against Dr. Sapolsky who is committed to a chemical-genetic-medical-model of what in days past used to be called melancholia or bipolar or witchcraft or demoniacal possession or an imbalance of bodily fluids or soul-disturbance or manic depressive or endogenous or exogenous or a form of mourning (Freud) or anything else you can find in the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual.   They used to treat it with whips and branding irons, and they still use electro-shock ECT today.
In other words, how we label and treat depression goes in and out of style like Prada and Calvin Klein.  (Actually, the 11th century Muslims may have had the most humane ideas.)  What it boils down to is how you actually feel and what if anything you can do about it.
My own biased view is that – here’s a big if – if you can get through it, depression is less a medical disorder than a rite of passage that may help you get from X to Y.  Much or all depends on luck, stamina, timing, meds and what I don’t have, strength of character.
Dr. Sapolsky calls schizophrenia – how is it related to depression? – “the tragedy of a wasted life”.   The same could be said of a bad depression because when you’re really down that’s how it feels. It takes courage to live through a depression (NOT “battle” it) and even more courage, or perhaps guile and a bit of cheating, to figure a way through it.
My only advice to fellow depressives is simple: don’t kill yourself, wait it out, fake it out, distract yourself, do whatever it takes to keep living with the appalling pain. 
Pilot Lubitz meticulously and over months researched how to kill his passengers and himself.  He repeatedly increased the aircraft's speed as it plunged down.   He boasted to his girlfriend, “'One day I will do something that will change the whole system, and then all will know my name and remember it.'”
He wasn’t depressed, just a plain old sonofabitch mass murderer like Charlie Manson and Gary Ridgeway the Green River serial killer.