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

Tags: depression

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I went through a clinical depression that lasted 2 years. Eventually, I wandered out of it. (Many people who've been through a deep depression they are no longer in will understand the metaphor of "wandering out of it.") 

This may sound silly, but what worked for me was whenever a negative thought entered my head, I treated it as another person and (silently, mentally) talked back to it telling it to go away. Eventually, the thoughts got less negative and now I'm only depressed when there's an actual reason to be depressed, such as recently when my father was dying and there was nothing I could do to help him other than to be around, which, believe me, ain't fun!

Another thing that helped me when I was depressed was being involved in a program that had me around people with far bigger problems than mine, which gave me perspective on my own issues. I'm talking about crippled people, people with muscle control problems such that they could hardly talk even though their brains were very sharp, mentally challenged people, including a girl in her early twenties with cheerleader body and looks but the mind of an 8 year old. After a while, I began to realize that, Hell, my problems weren't all that bad and who the heck did I think I was to think my problems merited much attention at all. 

So, you've cataloged many of the bad things about life. How about cataloging the good ones? Also, volunteer. Making yourself useful helps, especially if you can volunteer working with people with serious issues or people in far more need than you. 

At heart, clinical depression is a serotonin deficiency. You can try for the antidepressant approach or you can DIY as I did. (I tried antidepressants and couldn't stand the side effects.) 

The main thing is not to sit around and stew. When you get out there and FIGHT, even if you don't win every or any battle, at least you can feel like something other than just a leaf floating on a stream of negativity.

You are correct that chronic clinical depression is a serotonin deficiency.  I call it a chemical imbalance --- & that is what doesn't get better or go away by "doing things" or trying to think differently. 

 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).

Sarah:

  Another thing.....everyone on this planet with very few exceptions is going through some shit of some sort. There's always someone who has it worse than you. Happiness when it does come to us is something to relish and take in when those moments are there and enjoy them. 

  I do not know if you've had a hard life or not, but I do know that another thing I always say is, "I'm always OK." that is to say I allow myself the slack to not be "great" but I'm also not ever horrible. Even when life bitchslaps me in the face I can always say, "I'm always OK"....This gives me the strength to put one foot in front of the other...I cannot conquer the world when life brings me down, but I can think about what needs to happen within the next 5 minutes. This is manageable.... Sometimes I have to make a small list of things I want to accomplish that day and I don't over-extend my abilities. Even if I only do 2 things at least I've done those two things. 

  My depression and anxiety has ALWAYS been circumstancial. I've never needed or wanted anti-depressants. But I've suffered a lot of depression from the shit life has thrown my way. But I've won. I've persevered. I've become a better person and I am still dealing with more shit as we speak. I wouldn't say I am happy, but I AM capable. I am in control and I do know that I'm on solid ground. This gives me a certain sense of what you MIGHT call happiness...If nothing else I'm hopeful. Maybe hopeful is all we ever need to be.

I like the part about "putting one foot in front of the other", & making it thru "the next 5 minutes" - that seems to work for me.  My mother told me (after my first serious suicide attempt) - " when you think about it (dying), tell yourself "just wait till next Wednesday".  That also seemed to work, as thing would come up to take my mind away -- it worked so well 5 decades have passed & I am now 71 yrs. old.  So some of these things work -- but I don't connect with the word "hopeful".  What would I be hopeful for?  Or what would I "hope" for?  I can't think of anything - except for good health, which I have & will continue to hope for.

What would I be hopeful for?  Or what would I "hope" for?  I can't think of anything - except for good health, which I have & will continue to hope for.

Hope  simply means knowing that your life does and will have significant meaning. I for example am hopeful despite the fact that I have faced abuse of some sort my entire life, I hope to give my son a better life. I hope for many things in the future. Hope is the ability to see the possibilities of the future and strive towards them. Hope is knowing that life is beautiful even if we don't "feel like it is." Hope is learning to combat your own "feelings." I would even venture to say that hope isn't a feeling but a state of mind. Hope is something you can have even if you are going through HELL. Hope requires no effort when it's derived from a broken state. When you feel like the world just couldn't get any worse hope allows you to look out the window and see something beautiful, and know that life is not all bad. The battles sometimes is seeing the color among the gray, hence the poem I shared. Hope is not the same as happiness. Hope can transform the mind and give you strength. The poorest of the poor have hope. Not necessarily happiness, and they can be some of the seemingly happy people on the planet. They certainly can also be very generous in my experience, willing to give their life savings to make you, their guest comfortable. Why is that? Because they have hope. The religious say that they have faith. I believe that faith is a  deluded and incomplete substitute for hope, but it is the same thing ultimately.

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

Hi Sara,

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

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