Depression isn’t sadness

(NOTE: please don’t read an amateur blog post and start mis-diagnosing yourself and your friends. Seek help from a professional or encourage your friends to)

Recent events have brought depression back into the public eye (along with all the other terrible and shitty things that have happened this month). It’s important to get good information out because there are a lot of misconceptions about depression and leaving it untreated or treating it poorly can seriously detract from a person’s life.

One of the common misconceptions I’m seeing all over the place is that depression is basically being really sad – or being sad for a really long time. But sadness is only one of the possible symptoms of depression. You can be depressed without feeling sad at all! This is something I’ve been slowly learning over the last few years. Couple of my friends shared their experiences with me.

I have actually found that depression in many cases is the absence of sadness, or any other emotion.

Or feeling emotions but being unable to engage with or express them (alexithymia)

Here are some of the symptoms of depression listed on WebMD (bold mine):

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings

Are you surprised by any of these? Especially the ones I bolded? Sometimes depression makes people feel grumpy and irritable. Sometimes it makes them feel just not particularly excited about things or actively negative about things they would normally enjoy. Sometimes depression makes people kinda shut down because it feels too hard to remember things, focus, or make up their mind.

These things can be misinterpreted as personality traits or intentional behavior, as self-absorption, laziness, apathy, ennui, or poor priorities. That might look like aimlessness, a lack of direction in life, inability to care for oneself (cooking, cleaning, hygiene), choosing easy/cheap pleasures over responsibilities or more fulfilling activities (fast food where you would normally prefer to cook at home, TV instead of time with friends, masturbation/lazy sex/disengaged sex instead of the usual engaged or passionate sex). 

Again, these are just examples of how things can play out. They aren’t symptoms of depression and can be the result of choices or other circumstances or circumstancial stress/sadness. 

This is by no means an exhaustive or exact list, the point I want to make is that depression is not just sadness turned up to eleven. If someone is experiencing sadness as a symptom of depression, it might not be very helpful to treat them like someone who’s sad about something. You can’t just distract them or tell them to cheer up or get over it because the sadness is not being caused by their dwelling on a sad thing. The same goes for the way you treat yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over feeling sad. Don’t tell yourself to snap out of it or further upset yourself by trying to force a mood change. There are certainly things you can do that will help (I’ll save that for another post), but you have to remember that depression is not sadness. They are not the same thing. Don’t treat them that way.

(I want to also note that a person with depression can be sad about something separately from being depressed. In that case, the usual approaches to dealing with sadness may be appropriate)

Fix a grayed-out Finder folder

I was using Gemini today to try to clear out some duplicate files and I noticed that I was having permissions issues with some of the directories I was searching. These directories had traveled across multiple Macs and external drives, so I wasn’t terribly surprised – except that there was one folder I could seem to get access to with Finder. It was grayed-out and inaccessible, though I could navigate to it through Terminal. I tried making myself the owner, I tried settings the permissions to 777, I tried editing the extended attributes (there were none).

Finally I found a solution which uses SetFile – part of the Xcode installation. At some point, it seems a file transfer was interrupted in the middle of copying this directory and it turns out that Finder temporarily sets the created date on a file or directory to a really old value which renders the file or folder inaccessible (probably so you don’t get in and much around while the data is copying). When a file transfer is ungraceful interrupted, Finder might not know or might not be able to correct the date. The article I found said that the date would be set to 06/13/1946, but when I checked this particular directory, it was set to January 24, 1984. Either way, it was way too old.

sh-3.2# SetFile -d 22/02/2014 Music/ #(Or any reasonably recent date)

That cleared the problem right up!

If you don’t have Xcode tools installed, you can actually achieve the same thing with touch.

sh-3.2# touch -t 201402221100 Music/

The -t flag tells touch to modify the created date (-mt will change the modified date) and the numbers indicate the year, month, date, hour, and minute (YYYYMMDDhhmm).

Airfoil cutting out on OS X Mavericks

I use Airfoil to make it easier to sound from any audio source on my Mac to as many speakers as I want (something you can only do normally in iTunes), but I’ve noticed the sound dropping out frequently since updating to OS X 10.9.

Rogue Amoeba’s release notes don’t hold any clues besides the fact that Airfoil is not yet Mavericks-compatible, but I realized that the sound seemed to resume whenever I would switch back to Airfoil to see what the problem was.

Enter App Nap. Of course Mavericks has a marquee feature that explains just this behavior. App Nap “pauses” apps that it thinks are running in the background and needlessly taking up resources. A quick search lead me to an easy way to prevent OS X from putting a specific app to sleep.

Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 11.21.52 AMOpen /Applications in the Finder, select Airfoil, and hit ⌘-i (or Get Info in the File menu), then check the “Prevent App Nap”box under “General.”

That seems to have prevented the sound from cutting out for me.

The Doom Meme

This is just a shot in the dark, but it occurred to me that all of these business “analysts” who seem convinced that Apple is doomed despite all evidence to the contrary could just be part of a major stock manipulation scheme. Maybe Apple’s fans (by which I mean those who are emotionally invested in Apple’s success, not people who just like Apple products) have become so entrenched in their support for Apple, that they will actually buy more from Apple and write more positive things about Apple if they continue to feel that Apple is threatened in the way it was during Job’s hiatus.

It seems a bit crazy and conspiracy-esque, but the alternative is that lots of people are convinced that huge increases in year-over-year iPhone sales indicate that Apple is faltering.

configure SSHGuard for OS X 10.8 and Higher

::UPDATE:: I’ve confirmed that this still works under Mavericks.
::UPDATE 2/15/2015:: Still works fine on Yosemite
::UPDATE 1/31/1016:: El Capitan appears to use socketfilterfw instead of pf, though pf is still installed. I’ll post when I have this working on El Cap.

These instructions use Homebrew and PF with SSHGuard on OS X 10.8.4 and higher (10.10 tested). Previous versions of OS X may use IPFW instead of PF and secure.log instead of system.log

$ brew install sshguard
$ su #(or use sudo from here-on out)$ vim /etc/pf.conf

(add the following lines – this assumes your ethernet and wifi interfaces are en0 and en1. You can also use en0 and en1 in the rules instead of setting up variables)

# Variables #
# SSHGuard #
table <sshguard> persist
block in quick on $ext_if proto tcp from <sshguard> to any port 22 label "sshguard"
block in quick on $wifi proto tcp from <sshguard> to any port 22 label "sshguard"

$ (sudo) pfctl -f /etc/pf.conf #reloads the rules
$ (sudo) cp -fv /usr/local/opt/sshguard/*.plist /Library/LaunchDaemons #set sshguard to run at startup
$ (sudo) launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/homebrew.mxcl.sshguard.plist #start sshguard

Here are the contents of homebrew.mxcl.sshguard.plist:

<!--?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>-->
<!--DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "">-->
<plist version="1.0">

I’m including images of my terminal showing the contents of these files since WordPress seems to find new ways to break the formatting of this post every so often.

Screenshot 2015-02-15 16.46.08


If you don’t have homebrew installed, you should download the source and compile it for PF.