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
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.
So why haven't you been back since the 18th?
Erm, didn't realise anyone was keeping track....
Good to see you Sarah! We don't keep track per se but when we know someone is a little down we try to cheer up!!! HUGS!
Well, when someone nice, as you seem to be, comes on the board, says they have a significant problem, everyone responds to her, and she never replies back for weeks, we tend to worry about her, wondering if everything's OK --
Good that the universe has not yet absorbed you back!
For some of us iconoclasts, or malcontents, it helps to validate us ever so much..;p).
I do hope your days are filled with a little hope, and happyness...
I didn't even know I was depressed until I met the right professionals who could help. My life changed for the better, soon after that. Looking back now, I can rightly say I was probably depressed for 50 years! It was my kids who helped me find help, which I didn't even know existed. Of course, I had my ups and downs during those times, too. My perception of what the world "really is" changed, depending on the state of my mind. I realized fairly early that the world wasn't changing so much as my perception of it. "Reality" is real, but we all perceive it differently, often inaccurately, but at least differently in different times.
There truly are mental illnesses that make the disparity between reality and one's perception of it unnecessarily distorted or strained, so I'll never assume that the "best" way to mental health and happiness is with our without medicine or professional help. It's different for different people, even though you'll often hear some people sound like they think their way to improve is what everyone else should strive for, too.
Knowing how life feels so much like profound ups and downs, especially during adolescence and sometimes later, I told them "no matter how bad it seems, it will get better over time". That's not true for everything (like incurable cancer!), but for most emotional crises. Optimism is also enhanced when one can interact with people around who care about them. I've seen some people pull themselves up by intentionally helping other people.
One thing that helped me was writing to my "other" self. When depressed, I wrote about how I felt, what (if anything in particular) was bothering me, and questions that prevailed like "why" do I feel this way. Later, when in a good mood (even if wasn't very often), I could write about my good feelings and optimism, and even respond to my other self in constructive ways... or at least I could gain insight into the nature of the schism. Both of my selves had useful and significant perceptions that could inform each other.
I could go on, but I'll save it because I see a lot of other responses here.
"Reality" is real, but we all perceive it differently
Blind men? Elephant? Sound familiar?