The irony of depression: what the eucalyptus tree can tell us

by Martin

in A Depression Blog

Dead tree - irony of depression

I haven’t written much on here lately.

Partly because I’ve been busy on other work. But partly because I’ve been too depressed.

Odd isn’t it? I can only write on my website, when I’m not too depressed.

Actually, that is precisely why the site is called

In fact, I think that depression’s ability to strip you of the mental wherewithal with which to fight it, is its most pernicious characteristic.

In normal circumstances, when things go wrong we may be a bit battered and bruised but we have the mental resources to do what it takes to put ourselves back on track.

It’s a bit like the eucalyptus tree.

In a bush fire the eucalyptus tree can usually survive because of its epicormic buds. These are buds hidden under the surface of the tree’s bark which remain protected from the fire by the bark.

When the rest of the tree’s vegetation is lost to the fire, the epicormic buds are stimulated to break out, thus regenerating the tree. That’s the tree’s normal reaction to adversity.

But there are some bush fires so severe and so intense that the tree is burnt to its core, stripping it of its survival mechanisms.

That’s what depression can do to us.

On reflection, I suppose this is a characteristic common to many afflictions. The alcoholic knows that that he needs to quit drinking, but the drink strips him of the capacity to act on that knowledge.

I think of it as the irony of depression. But of course it’s not humerous irony, like the much of the delicious English wit upon which I was raised.

Instead, it is a bitter irony – like being murdered by your own bodyguard.

Here are some of the things that can help with depression, but which I find I can only do when I’m not too depressed:

  • Exercise
  • Socialise
  • Write creatively
  • Meditate
  • Garden
  • Play in an engaged way with my daughter
  • Be a good husband to my wife
  • Stick to CBT type therapy
  • Feel positive
  • Make plans
  • Have hope
  • Walk in nature
  • Believe in myself.

So there it is.

In order to take action to fight your depression, you need to make sure you are not too depressed – and then do some or all of the above.

I suppose we need try to protect our metaphorical epicormic buds somehow.

I guess that is one of the main arguments for medication.

Does anybody have any other suggestions about to how to preserve our metaphorical epicormic buds in the face of depression’s fire?

About the Author

Father, husband, writer and website publisher, discontented in his day-job, he writes here about depression - his own and in general. You can follow Too Depressed on Twitter. Please share the content on this site with all your friends, followers and contacts using the buttons above.

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Last revised on September 15, 2012

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda Esposito February 28, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Martin–I was thinking about you today as I was perusing blog comments in my Worpress dashboard (looking for an evil spammer who’s impersonating, or rather hijacking my identity and leaving comments on others’ blogs…not that you asked ;)).

You’re such a wonderful writer–can’t you channel your inner-Hemingway or whomever inspires you to summon your epicormic buds of creativity?

I think there’s a little (at least) of depression in all of us. Lately I’ve been reminded of a 45 y/o woman who was a client of my hairdressers and she died w/in 8 months of a Leukemia dx. When I find myself wallowing, wishing, comparing, blah, blah, blah, I remind myself that on my death bed I’m not going to say, “Damn, my only regret is not experiencing enough wasted moments simmering in anger.”

I guess we all have to find our strategies and remedies. As I’m looking in your right side bar, I remember that wonderful article about depressed dads…and really, kids need only know that we love them and are engaged in their lives. Everything else be damned.

You got this :).
Linda Esposito recently posted..The ABCs of Anxiety ReliefMy Profile


Martin February 28, 2012 at 5:09 pm

I’ve got it Linda.

Actually when I write or work on my websites, I do get lost in what I’m doing. So that is a strategy of sorts.

The rest is all ups and downs, ebbs and flows.

Maybe I just have to get used to these changing tides and make sure I harness power of the tides as they rise.

By the way, I just checked out the new design on your site – I think it’s fantastic.


Dine February 29, 2012 at 7:37 am

Those are great ideas on what to do when depressed. Depression is not a rare thing these days, people need to find something to be busy with.


Adam Alvarado May 15, 2012 at 12:59 am

Ah interesting. Never thought about this. But it makes total sense that depression strips you of your ability to fight it, so it makes sense also then that you’d be unable to write for your sweet site when you could use the catharsis the most. It’s like a mental cancer then. It attacks your ability to think and act positively, like a cancer might attack the white blood cells that would kill it. There isn’t a cancer that heals itself, like their isn’t a depression that fights itself. Eventually, if you’re to survive, you just gotta be stronger than the cancer, stronger than the depression…
Adam Alvarado recently posted..The Epic Post on Change God Himself Would Write (If He Had Thumbs)My Profile


Martin May 18, 2012 at 8:14 am

That’s probably what it comes down to in the end Adam. You’ve got to try to be stronger, using whatever works for you to beat it.

Like I said in my reply to Linda’s comment, for me it ebbs and flows. The secret is to take advantage of the ebb tides, when there’s a bit of respite, to put in place some of the strategies that help when it flows. Of course, I don’t always do that, but I think it’s a plan.
Martin recently posted..Melancholic depression and non-melancholic depression: where do these fit into the depression landscape?My Profile


Dick Sederquist June 27, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Martin- Creative writing is certainly effective in feeling better. Both my memoirs “Hiking Out: Surviving Depression with Humor and Insight Along the Way” and “Inside and Outside: Messages of Hope from a Life Long Hiker and Depression Survivor” as seen on my web site, deal with my survival from depression. Creative writing is about the closest I can come to the act of prayer. My writing has also allowed me to become a volunteer in two medium security prisons in Connecticut where I conduct an eight session course called “Life Change Discussion Group” dedicated to improving verbal communication skills and developing life coping strategies. Giving back and helping others is the greatest gift and therapy for depression.
Dick Sederquist recently posted..About the AuthorMy Profile


ana maria saad July 31, 2012 at 7:40 am

Depression was my best master!
I am a suicide survivor!
I gave a talk at TED about my story that I hope can help others not to give up!;TEDSao-Paulo
hope you enjoy it and spread!
we are not alone!


Sam August 14, 2012 at 2:06 am

Hi Martin,
I found your blog via the healthy-whatever-it-is list of top depression blogs for 2012, and I’m glad I did. I am a fellow Sydneysider with severe depression (melancholic in my case), or at least I assume you are in Sydney. Perhaps you were just visiting when you went to the Black Dog Institute.
I like your list of things that are helpful for depression. My favourite weapon is my non-black dog, Malcolm. I find that there is something very healing about dogs. If I am having one of those mornings/days where I am paralysed in bed he will wrap himself around my body, which is very soothing. If I am in a state of high distress he will literally sit on top of my chest. The pressure from his weight seems to help.
I look forward to reading more of your posts when you are less than too depressed. In the meantime, please take gentle care of yourself. It sounds like you’re worth it.


Martin August 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Hi Sam
Thanks for visiting and for your kind words. It’s great to have a comfort in times of trouble, I agree. I’m lucky that my family provide that comfort for me.

I’m actually not depressed at present. Hanging in there and hoping it lasts.
All the best.
Martin recently posted..Dealing with stress and anxiety – winning the battle between coping and complianceMy Profile


Sam August 21, 2012 at 11:46 pm

That is awesome news. Here’s to your continued health!


Laura August 24, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Too true. Motivation is a real struggle when you’re depressed. I used to enjoy expressing my ideas and emotions about things through drawing. I don’t really do that anymore – I’m not heavily depressed, but think I have some sort of a low grade depression (a melancholia perhaps), that I deal with almost daily.
Easy to procrastinate when you’re in this cycle. Need to remind myself – it doesn’t matter what I draw or how good it is, it’s the act of expressing myself that’s useful – an outlet. Being clamped up inside yourself is detrimental to this cause.
Thanks Martin for providing this insight.


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