On Depression

The recent, tragic passing of the late, great Robin Williams has put depression back in the forefront of the public mind, and subsequently had dredged up my memories of my own darkest days, during which I dwelt in the dreary depths of depression, which I intermittently slip back into even to this day. I never defeated depression, for the enemy within cannot be banished, but I overcome it now. I feel it would be prudent at this time to discuss depression in my own views, banishing the misconceptions – as a disclaimer I will openly state that depression is a broad term, encompassing many experiences, differing with root causes and the environments in which it occurs, and so one man’s depression is not the same as all others.

Firstly, sadness does not equate to depression. Depression is not a state of constant sadness, but rather it is the hopelessness which burdens a person when they are trapped in a pit of despair and simply cannot conceive of any way out, no matter how much the try to puzzle out a solution. It is inexplicable in how overwhelming and overpowering a sensation it is – I would liken it to being caught in cartoon-ish quicksand: one is mired in sadness, stuck in this horrid place where the world is painted in blacks and greys and nothing is right, and yet with every movement, every attempt to free oneself, the person sinks deeper, freedom becoming a more distant dream every moment. Depression is not a sadness brought about by an inconvenient situation or a painful event, but rather a sum of situations and events which compile to become so onerous, so overbearing that one feels there is no way to continue bearing their weight; fears, worries, responsibilities, financial problems, social problems, personal inabilities and inefficiencies  all lying on your shoulders, crushing down with their immeasurable force, and yet in your mind there is no way this burden could be shared or dropped, no way to avoid it.

The most poignant and precise description I have ever read of the feeling I experienced when depressed is that which I found on Tumblr (the home of many great, and not so great, finds):

The worst part of depression is not the sadness, but the feeling that there is no way to end it. All possibilities seem…impossible. People tell you to stop being so gloomy and unhappy, commanding you to “lighten-up” as if it is something you can simply choose, as if you can shrug of this horrendous weight you bear on your mind. And they can never understand. For some reason, you convince yourself that telling someone, no matter what the ads say, just won’t help, and may actually worsen the situation, the person laughing at you, deciding your misery is something to be ridiculed. All possible help just seems pointless, some redundant action which may even worsen the situation. So what is the solution? What is the magic formula that turns depression into happiness?

There is none, and to reduce something as complex and multifaceted as depression to something solvable by some set of steps would be offensive and a falsity. however, there are certain actions which can help.

Talk to someone. They say that talking to someone shares the burden – Pah! Rubbish! As if the weight of all my problems will spontaneously lessen when I share them with another! All that will do is heap the same worries I have onto another’s shoulders so that we both have to struggle – sharing the problem solves nothing! Wrong – You know when you encounter a problem which poses difficulty, or your mentally carrying out some sum which is proving tasking you start to speak aloud, usually muttering, but sometimes progressing to full blown conversations with yourself? Well, that’s a natural response to difficulties. Voicing problems does not solve them, but often times it lends clarity, allows one to see the problem without the bustle of the mind getting in the way. While you might fear talking about your worries and problems with someone for fear of ridicule or perhaps burdening them with your problems, there are still ways to overcome this – there are plenty of confidential, secure helplines which offer a willing, and considerate ear – sometimes there is apprehension in calling some of these services, some thinking that the service just isn’t for you; if you’re depressed, it is, and your not going to be judged for using it! You may also be apprehensive in sharing problems with family or friends, but there is certainly someone who is willing to hear your problems and take them seriously. Talk to someone, because even hearing your own problems spoken aloud is helpful, and having a caring person to discuss problems with is infinitely better than retaining one’s misery out of misplaced pride or unnecessary care.

There’s always a solution! There’s no way out! There’s no way I can concur all these problems – there’s too many and they’re too big! I just, I just can’t! Of course there’s a solution, and just because you can’t see it does not mean it does not exist. We all have encountered problems that are too big in our lives, daunting tasks which seem too great, which fill us with fear and plague us with worry.Depression is often the product of an accumulation of these problems, so many of these unconquerable walls springing up before us that we are boxed in, trapped within a cage set by our problems. It is important that these problems be tackled one at a time, broken into small manageable chunks – instead of attacking all the walls with a hammer, focus on one, and once that has been broken down move on to another. Another essential component here, to abuse the platitude with overuse, is to talk to someone. It may sound tired and cliche, but it really does help.

Suicide is never the answer. We have all been there, our minds drifting to that most final of decisions in the darkest of night as the tears and the pains keep us awake. While the problems always seem insurmountable, such a situation is only temporary, but the decision to end ones life is irrevocable and final. Life is filled with pain, laced with suffering and tainted with struggle, but it is no less a wonder. You have one life. Once it ends, you end. You will never know its like again, though it will matter little once it is finished. There is so much for you to experience yet, so much joy yet to be garnered if you would only live to see it. Did you know that studies have found people to be most content and pleased in old age, when they have retired? Your best days are yet to come! You are greatness, every undiscovered wonder of the world and every joy yet to be had still within your grasp. Do not steal that opportunity away from yourself. Do not let the potential of your years let to be lived go to waste. 

It is likely that no one in need will ever get to read this, and for that I am sorry, but ever a needy eye should ever stumble upon this, I hope it helps you. If you do happen to read this, and require a ready ear, I am ready and willing to chat if you leave a comment.

My deepest sympathies to the families and friends of all those victims of suicide and self-harm, I mourn their loss and the world will never know their like again.

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Curse of the Friendless

The curse of the friendless is to ever desire friends. In truth, this is a curse which burdens all of mankind, from the shy to the gregarious, but one group placates their pain by some what satisfying this craving for companionship. Today, as everyday, I was reminded of my social ineptitude pained by them and limited by them once more. Please don’t misinterpret; I’m not a horrible person, not egocentric and narcissistic, not smarmy and snide – I do, in fact, have friends (by some minor miracle), I am simply not good at maintaining those established friendships, shying away in some inexplicable fear, subconsciously worried of incurring some displeasure or ridicule by way of my sometimes flawed understandings of interactions and misreading of cues. I think it all stems from a childhood where I was often preyed on, an easy target to abuse as the tagline of a joke, people I considered friends poking fun at me and sharing secrets I had entrusted to them in the form of public jest. I now carry the taint of paranoia, colouring my perspectives and dictating my actions. Despite this fact, despite all my inadequacies and inabilities in the world of socializing  I still yearn for the friendship I don’t have, still crave it though I am fully aware I am too afraid to seek it out. It is innate, part of the human condition to seek out human companionship, and it would be considered a defect not to hunger for such relations, and yet every day I wish for such a condition, whereby I could live without the pain of knowing how alone I am and will remain, and the pang of wishing for it to be otherwise. I wish for friends, dream of them and hope for them, but more than this I wish that I did not wish for friends at all, that I could live comfortable in isolation. I am cursed the same way as all others, burdened in the same fashion as all my fellow man, destined and doomed to a life seeking the adulation of peers I will never gain. I am the friendless, ever seeking it to be otherwise. 

Boredom Blogging

A blog. I’ve finally started one, though when I say finally I’m unsure as to why – I never had a reason to begin one before, and certainly still lack a good reason. Boredom. Surely it was boredom that produced the great beginnings in this world (if we overlook the more prominent driving factors such as need or desire!), pushing writers to spew their thoughts forth onto crisp white pages, forcing the artist’s hand to slash and cut across the innocent canvas, prompting minds to toil idly at the underlying mysteries of quantum mechanics in all it’s serendipitous  ambiguous beauty… and then I became bored, and the path to greatness took a sour twist. This blog is for me, a place to consume wasted time in a relatively productive fashion; as might be told from my clever titling of this blog, I am an aspiring author (I’m proof reading my rather gargantuan first novel, sure to be a disappointment come time to fling at any eager publisher), and by day I am a primary(elementary) school teacher, and so I wish to write, if only to continue doing so. I am not going to promote this page in any fashion, nor will I ever utter its name to a friend or acquaintance for fear of social ridicule (anxiety tends to dissipate with the anonymity offered by the internet, and I intend to abuse that fact!). This will likely never be read by eyes other than my own, and I rejoice in that fact. This blog will be a vast, empty room in which I can shout my thoughts to the non-existent audience, allowing me to reflect on them in a new light when the echo returns to haunt me. This is the nothing, the wall to be vandalized by my wondering mind. This is tedium. (This is Sparta!). This is Boredom.