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.
There is nothing you can do to ever beat sadness. Just like there is nothing you can every do to beat feeling “lazy” or not wanting to exercise, or eating too much or too little, or drinking too much or too little, or having too much sex, or not enough, or going to the casino, or buying one too many perfumes. There is nothing that will allow you to strike a “perfect balance” in anything. You will always be off balance in some way. Even if you practice one thing you will fail in another. Happiness does not happen because your life is “good.” Happiness is “woo” to me. No one is really “happy.” But you can reach a place where you are “capable.” That is to say you can become “capable” of living within your world and conquering it. It means never playing the victim, never giving up. Always doing the best you can under any and every circumstance. It means playing the game and being willing to take enough risk to be dangerous, but not too much to lose everything. It means standing up strong and not being afraid to look yourself in the mirror and accept your misery for what it is so that you can move forward with your day in a positive, productive, proactive, healthy, and fulfilling way. This changes your day and your outlook from negative to positive.
The act of moving forward is something you simply make yourself do, and you must never stop moving. Never stop and wallow in your own misery because it gives a way for heart stopping depression to kick in. Instead live to look outward. Look to others if you can, but first at your own self in how you perceive the world. Understand that and you can overcome depression, strife, heartache, brokenness, psychosis, nightmares, addictions, self-pity, fatigue, suicidal thoughts, and pain, every single time. It’s a fool proof plan of attack. You cannot be defeated. I'd like to share a poem with you:
Night is here,
Night is prey,
Why my fears?
Must they stay?
All the tears
They cannot stay
They make the Light turn to gray
I cannot fear
For it clouds the day
Then the sun turns to gray
All these years
All the lies
The memories make me cry
It never was,
It never lived
It almost killed
I almost died
Then the end would be gray
A tragic life
Lost its way
Night is here
Night is prey
No easy way
I'm still so far away
I cannot see
Gray is blinding me
Only Truth carries me
I'm weak and hurt
As I walk through
The hardest part
I'm in Her grasp
All the way
Until Nights gray
Turns to day
Day is here, night away
All the gray has changed to light
Light is bright, day is clear,
All the colors show their might
All the Truth there is to see, as waves of love wash over me,
Knowledge thrives, it carried me, just enough to make me see, the light is there beneath the gray, all I had to do was clear the way.
It was me all along, I am the one with a beautiful song,
I am the light, the light with me,
without the gray, it's clear to see.
Knowledge, there, made me see,
And now I can declare, "I'm free."
Live it up
A day at a time.
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!