Hello all, I've just joined this group. I don't know what sort of things generally get posted here or what the etiquette is, so forgive me if this isn't the right place for what I'm writing.
I'm suffering, and have suffered for most of my life, what would probably be considered 'depression'. I also have trouble with anxiety, and problems with mood regulation in general.
However, I'm going to stick my neck out here and say I don't believe in medical depression in the sense that it is an 'illness' with 'symptoms' that can be treated, and the patient brought back to good mental health. 'Good mental health' in this sense implies that the natural state of affairs for a human being is to be happy, balanced, satisfied and confident. And that any other frame of mind is a distortion.
I don't believe that. I don't believe happiness is our state of nature. I'm not implying that misery is, but that our moods and experiences are circumstantial and experiential. (Not sure if that last one is a real word.... if it isn't, it should be).
And here's the catch, and the factor that I believe makes depression and misery so common: is that the world is not a happy place. Our higher psychological and emotional needs, and those of others, are in a continual battle with our more base, animal instincts: greed, lust, desire for power, selfishness, etc. We experience the consequences of these in our every day lives far more than we experience the more 'enlightened' kinds of human behaviour. From our parents, our culture, our society.
That's how I see it, and my problem, with this in mind, is a pretty huge one. I have a problem with existing in this world. I have a problem with people. I am very sensitive and I find that the reality of the world, if we choose to face it without rose tinted glasses (of religion or any other delusion)- is one of untold suffering, lies, manipulation, greed, patriarchy, and general all-round evil. It is wearing me down. On some days, I stay inside my room and think of all the beautiful things in life. On others, it overwhelms me and there's nothing I can do. I sit and cry (yes) at the state of this planet and of the human condition. I don't think of suicide per se (my elder brother committed suicide and I witnessed the devastation it caused.) But I feel like I'm waiting for a horrible ride to end, just passing the time until it's time to get off. If anyone had informed me about the reality of the world prior to my birth and asked me whether I agree on going through with it, I wouldn't sign that contract. When it comes down to it, I don't want to die, but I really don't want to be here either. But since I'm here I have to find a way to deal with it until it's time to get off. Please, I'm having a really shitty day today. If there's anyone out there who 'gets' what I'm writing and is maybe a little older and/or wiser and has a few words of advice, I would really appreciate it.
Thanks for reading. x
Hi Sarah. I'm really sorry you're struggling with this right now. I had a shitty day yesterday and today, with many thoughts similar to yours. We share a similar worldview and outlook on the human condition. I agree that happiness is not the normal state of being for humans and that the world is full of suffering. Pretty bleak, right? There is another side to the story that is easy to dismiss when you're feeling down. I actually think the "normal" state of being for humans is neither happiness nor misery. It lies somewhere between the two, when we are striving/seeking well-being or living with a sense of contentment. That is to say, if given the opportunity, humans spend the majority of our time trying to reach a state of well-being or trying to remain in such a state.
If we move the needle for what marks "good mental health," from happiness to contentment, the idea of "recovering" from depression no longer seems so impossible. Medical practitioners don't seek to make depressed patients "happy" but to restore a sense of equilibrium from which a person will continue to experience the miseries and the joys of life.
I don't mean to minimize anyone's experiences, but without some degree of unhappiness with which to compare it, how would we know if we were truly happy? Happiness is relative to all of our less pleasant experiences.
I don't mean to minimize anyone's experiences, but without some degree of unhappiness with which to compare it, how would we know if we were truly happy?
I wonder how primative cave dwelling people defined their happiness.
I imagine its a feeling of contentment - that all is well just for today.
RE: "I wonder how primative cave dwelling people defined their happiness."
Hunger, versus a full belly? What do I know, how old do you think I am?
Or happiness could be experienced "relative to" a base-line level of contentment. This would be unique to whatever hypothetical human you seem to imagine that has never suffered.
I should have read this before I replied down there - it looks like I copied with contentment - but I didnt I promise.
Why that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me!
(Old bird, my achin' a...)
What? Who said that?
Thanks, all these replies have helped me too (see my story ("condition") above)....I was also diagnosed as Chronic Depression & Bi-Polar. I have been on & off medication. When I am on it, I don't like the feeling of the side effects. I have tried to do alot of the suggestions of all of you - & it helps to get thru the years --- by "existing" ! --- "happy" has no meaning for me - but as Kairan has said - "contentment" comes the closest. When the chemistry in the brain is imbalanced - - not any or all of the suggestions "work" - but at least the time goes by --- proven by the fact that I have stayed alive for 5 decades since my first suicide attempt. That doesn't mean I don't think about it constantly - but I am surviving, or existing - or making do --- & it is OK for now.
If I understand, the biggest cause of your depression are the problems in the world, it's a good reason but you should accept the reality. I don't know how's your financial situation but I suppose it's stable because you can get one the internet and have a computer. There happen many terrible things in the world, and arounde me (I live in Bogota D.C., Colombia). You can't ignore it, but it isn't a reason to be sad all the time. Actually you should be happy to have the opportunities that the biggest part of the world's population doesn't have. And if you really care about the problems, do a bit about them. Even if it's donating a little bit of money or doing voluntary work like I do in a slum. I hear around me stories about people getting robbed, sometimes even killed for their mobile phone, girls raped, people getting killed. And I see the streets full of drug addicts and other homeless people, in the busses are people from the lowest class to ask money, many refugees struggling for their family, selling cheap sweats and other cheap things. Even just begging. It's not just Bogota but all Colombia, and you know what?? Colombia is picked as the happiest country of the world in 2012, proof enough that you can get a smile trough all the shit that happens around you. You should do it too, be optimistic. I believe the world is changing, the new generations are full with caring people. There are beautiful places, great movies, great foods, great music, great people etc. on this world, enjoy it!
Diego, obviamente tienes un corozón grande - graciás!
I feel confirmed!
Well this sucks!
You need to change your point of view, and I've had the following point of view most of my life, so I have no idea how hard it would be for someone elst to get here, but...
"My nervous system sparked to life and I was shoved into consciousness like a convict tossed into his cell. Escape is doable but costly.
I am the energy that hums inside my brain, directing my hands to type these words. Although my mind and body are symbiotic, we are as separate as the driver and his car. It gets me from point A to point B, but it is just my body, not me.
I am alive with an instinctual aversion to death, but I did not choose to be here. I could accept being here if not for the skewed minds of others.
I would die for my family, but I am not responsible for, nor do I trust, those outside of my family and friends. I am saddened by the needless death and suffering around the world, but I can only deal with what comes to my door.
As long as I am alive, I will harm no one, feign conformity, enjoy what I can, and gently bend the rules to cherry-pick my experiences—without apology. I came, I saw; this was stupid, I left.
(Copyright (c) by Rick Yost 2013 all rights reserved.)
That is part of the book I'm in the middle of writing right now.
You might be more screwed-up than I am. I can't really imagine that, but I suppose it's possible.
But you seem to have an interesting mind, at least interesting enough to question the basics.
If you think talking to someone like myself (or similar to yourself) might help, I'm here.