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
In high school I had this very strange, but telling dream which I remember as if it was yesterday.
A teacher compaired me to 'Johnathan Livingston Seagull' and the 'Little Prince'. A few weeks latter I had the dream: I was walking railroad tracks and passed parked box cars with open doors, and all connected on a track. As I continued to walk the box cars ended, to be replaced with emthy track Around me I was surrounded my open grass fields and tall grass in clumps along the track. I started to hear someone crying, and could smell the scent of death, so I started to look to find the source of the crying and the smell. All of a sudden I nearly tripped over a shoe box with a dieing sea gull inside that was crying and pleading, 'please don't hurt me mister.....'. I looked up from the location of the box and noticed far off buildings that looked unfinished and lost in fog. Then I woke up!
I have always interpreted the dream as indicating the choice between the catagories with in culture, a horrible settling, and a future that is undefined. It seemed that setting off across the field should be my ultimate choice, but I could end up in a shoe box with horrible regrets and in isolation. The boxcars might offer certainty and comfort, but they might just be bigger shoe boxes.
I expect, my dear, that you might be at a similar place as I. Sadly, it is unclear if my choices had been well made, or just not yet matured. I expect that religion can appear as another 'show box' for a soul/identity that might desire freedom. Sometimes I feel my isolation and the surrounding culture seems less than inviting at times. I think if you look closely, our encounters with culture seem to be defined around conformity, measures of certainty, and comfort. I expect that each 'shoe-box/box-car' offers some approximation/solution for these. Sadly, they can offer no solution to our mortality, but they might offer some degree of 'forgetfulness'.
So what do you want?
For me, I wanted peace, sufficient free time to not feel like a wage slave, the opportunity to pursue my wonder/curiosity, another dear soul that I might share the adventure with, enough 'money' to drive the system forward with limited ethical compromises, and the opportunity to be in the world and still be in-touch with 'honesty'. The details are still unsettled, and sadly I seem to have had rather limited success. I expect the 'road less traveled' still might be unmapped with GPS. ;p)
Sorry if I'm repeating what everyone else has said...
I don't know if "happiness is not our state of nature" makes sense to me or not, in spite of all the evil in the world. Based on history, you might argue that delusion and perpetual ignorance of the hard things are our "natural" condition. For thousands of years we prayed to gods and spirits and believed in all kinds of strange things, but we also used those things to make us happy. God loves us and cares for us, and if it doesn't look that way, just believe it anyway.
If you've rejected that, then maybe you've gone beyond what's "natural" and found something better. Racism is natural. Stealing, rape, and murder are natural. Dying from smallpox or malaria is natural. But we are slowly moving beyond that, creating our own reality and our own nature.
I hope someone here has said something that is useful to you, or that you seek professional help if you are having trouble going on. As you said, there is no point in suicide. If we don't believe in heaven or hell, there is nothing at all after this life. We don't have the hope of something better after we pass on. This existence is all we have, and once it's gone, we can never get it back.
I think we can be positive without completely diving into delusion. I think we can choose to see the good in the world even if we know the bad looms so large. I think things ARE getting better on earth--what with modern medicine, the decline of racism, the acceptance of homosexuals, the spread of education and knowledge. Remember the starfish story. It's sappy, yes, but I think it is still true that making one small insignificant difference is better than nothing.
Also, I know you don't want to live your life with rose-colored glasses, but are you sure you want to completely throw them away? When I go out in the bright sun, I put on my sunglasses. When I go inside, or it's cloudy, I take them off again. It's very useful to be able to have both.
Think if a dragon were coming to destroy your whole village. You have no weapons, and nowhere to run, and you know if you hide, the dragon will find you by scent.
You could try to hide anyway, and spend the last few hours huddled in the darkness. You could sit and cry and moan about your fate and your upcoming death. You could argue with other about why they didn't think to get any weapons. Or, if you can find a guitar or harmonica, you could get up and dance, dance in spite of the danger, dance in the very jaws of the dragon. It may be that, when the dragon finds you dancing, he will be so swept up by your joy that he does not destroy anything. But if not, if he does destroy it all anyway, and everyone is killed, you have spent your last few minutes dancing. And that has to be good for something.
Maybe the 'absence of creativity' in this instance does become a problem. I expect that the dragon is less creative than a human, but the dragon has hunger, size, absence of conscience, and power on its side. What comes to my mind, what about burning the town, and digging in. The smoke would make it appear that another dragon had been there already, and would cover the smell of crunchy humans! Dispursing the town's population over a wide area would help to reduce the chance of a crunchy encounter with the dragon, and allow a few towns folk to survive to play/plant another day. Just a thought if I were to live on a planet of dragons and smarter humans....
Now this does feel very insensitive. I do hope you always find a silver lining with everything that comes your way. Cah-cah has a tendency to drop on the most unassuming head.
I do not remember myself ever being 'under the weather' without a good reason.
Okay, then you've never experienced a clinical depression. Because during mine I could have been married to the most beautiful, talented, intelligent, considerate and kind woman in the world, having just won a half a billion dollars in the lottery, while enjoying universal fame and renown and STILL have been depressed.
Normal depression usually revolves around something specific (or a set of specifics) in one's life, but it relates to that/those thing/s. A clinical depression is frustrating because improving one's lot or getting rid of irritations usually does little to change it. It becomes your constant state of being.
BTW, depression isn't about being unhappy, though that can be a side effect of it. It's more about feeling irretrievably lost in a dark mental fog of pointlessness and emptiness tied with an inability to enjoy anything.
Yes, right on -- - I hope people (altho probably well meaning) who have mentioned "dragons" & "under the weather", & "healthy people who INDULGE in moody behavior" -- see this post. Thankyou
The only thing I can say is you are not alone, Steven Fry is such a nice guy, ( he is gay and an atheist) and he is also like you not always a happy funny bunny. Yes he gets quite down sometimes. but ha has learned to come to terms with his ....problem.
I would you Google the hell out of Steven, he has done many programs on his problem he is not afraid to admit it and I could suggest that If you twin yourself with a man as clever witty and when he is up he is up, ho yes and when he is down he is.... you will realise that life is worth living........
Brian from London......XXXXX
Brian, I'm as much a Steven Fry fan is any, and I see you're from London, but I'm not sure he's the best example you could find right now - don't I recall that he attempted suicide a short time ago?
Howdy @arch -
Steven Fry is the spokesperson for a mental health organization which tries to expose the real difficulties that people with BiPolar suffer and he says that he felt an obligation to reveal his latest attempt ...
"In an attack on the stigma of mental health problems, Fry attempted to convey to non-sufferers the lack of reasoning behind depression.
He explained: "There is no 'why', it's not the right question. There's no reason. If there were a reason for it, you could reason someone out of it, and you could tell them why they shouldn't take their own life."
From this article:
I agree with Brian that Steven Fry is worth looking at - especially his documentary titled The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive
Howdy? A strange phrase from Down Under - I'll bet you say that to all the kangaroos!
That's what I get for writing before all the facts are in, I was also told of Fry's suicide attempt by yet another Australian, but I wasn't aware of Fry's public announcement. Yes, it was very courageous of him to come out and say those things - I wish him the best of luck.
I've always admired his wit, to which I can now add his courage.
How are you doing today, Sarah?
I'm feeling a little better, thanks Kairan. Really appreciate everybody's replies to my post- there are a lot of really nice people on Think Atheist.