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(Last revised: August 27, 2008)
NOBILITY IN DEPRESSION?
Something I had dealt with when I had undergone a bout of severe depression many years ago
is something that will strike most people as quite odd. Recently (as of this writing), it
had come up in conversation, and I thought I might try to write some thoughts on it.
Having known others at the time who shared similar feelings, I suspect that this may
not be that uncommon, but to most who have never faced depression to such a degree will
find it difficult to understand. To make it clear, this was a long time ago in my past,
and this bears no reflection on who I am today.
So what was it? I can best describe it as a sense of "nobility" that accompanied the
pain and suffering. It was almost like a belief in karma or some other balancing force
of the universe, and that I was the recipient of this pain to save others from it. Sort
of like a sponge that would absorb it so that the rest of the world would not have to.
You start to take comfort in your pain. It's the devil you know. It's reliable. It's always
there to keep you company. And the alternative is to stop feeling anything.
But there comes a time when you have to realize how irrational this line of thought is,
if you ever want to recover. As with most aspects of depression, it's a self-sustaining
spiral. Your way of thinking only makes you feel worse, and reinforces those thoughts.
However, the facts are simple. Only your immediate friends and family really know you
(and of course they don't want to see you suffering). The rest of the world doesn't know,
and doesn't care. We should be more frightened of this universal apathy, if you think
about it. But the important point is that everyone else, the remaining 99.999% of the
population, isn't affected by you one way or another, and simply doesn't care if you're happy
or sad. That only leaves those closest to you, who don't like to see you in pain, and
yourself, who doesn't like feeling the pain.. So why keep clinging to it?
You can react to this stark reality in two ways. The first is to take it negatively
(your initial instinct at this point), thinking it's a callous and insensitive observation.
Or by taking it as just one more piece of evidence that your problems are insurmountable.
The grandeur of it is just beyond your capacity for rational thought. "What can I possibly
do about it?" is probably what you will think.
Or, you can make a choice, as I did. You can choose to look at it
rationally. To wake up one morning and say "from now on I will be reasonable about
my place in the world." And from there you have to choose to look for the
good in everything that happens to you, and choose to be happy about the
positive aspects of your life, and choose to do the things you enjoy, and
truly enjoy them. It absolutely is a choice that you have to make. And you
can't just treat it like a "New Year's Resolution"... you have to mean it, and make
a point of living up to it every minute of every day. Eventually you'll believe it,
and feel it. At first you'll feel like you're faking it, and just acting. But you
have to start somewhere.
It's the hardest fight of your life. It's up to you to choose how to proceed.