Seems I can't get away from certain themes lately. I'd break it down, but it comes to one thing: courage.
I have quoted someone a number of times here on this blog and to people I've written to. I had forgotten who had written this - "Live as if you father was dead" - and, in fact, I had thought it was "write as if your family was dead." Never mind. It's simply about being unafraid; unafraid of consequences, unafraid of yourself, of your feelings, of others' judgments, all of it. You know when you're coming from a place of no fear (at first) because you are, indeed, terrified. Louis C.K. said he "felt it in his balls."
I don't have any balls, but I know what he means.
It's about being authentic. For some, this matters little, but for whatever reason, to me, it seems to be everything. I've heard the expression, "living life on life's terms," and I thought, eh, it's just a cliche, pay it no mind. I quibble with things like this; what inherent meaning does the word "life" have? None, However, this cliche has come to mean a lot to me. It's about meeting life's challenges openly, and not backing down from them.
I've given a lot of thought to the concept of depression, and I think, at heart, depression is the place we habitually go when we're feeling so much pain that we collapse. I also think it's a choice. There. I've said it. It's a choice. It's not about feeling happy or unhappy. It's about feeling painful feelings. Depression is an attempt to feel less. One can be grieving, hurt, sad, angry, filled with shame, in physical pain (just stick your own so-called negative emotion in here) and not be depressed. Depression is the attempt to run away and give up. All the outward appearances of depression show this: sleeping, lethargy, the attempt to stuff one's feelings with food, television, or whatever one's medication of choice is. The depressed doesn't say "I'm sad," but instead, "I feel like a piece of shit." As an aside, those silly multiple choice tests are just plain ridiculous: "Have you felt pervasive sadness for a duration longer than 14 days?" Why not simply ask, "Do you feel like a piece of shit?"
It takes courage not to be depressed if one is prone to it. I do think there's a propensity for it, and maybe (just maybe) the depression piece is the complete opposite of the disease model..I can see a good argument for that. Depression seems like an almost appropriate reaction - a non-maladaptive coping mechanism when one has an accurate understanding of one's complete powerlessness in the face of overwhelming circumstances. When I think of my childhood, it makes total sense to have developed depressive tendencies. Children have no rights, and in essence, their situation is the same as an inmate's. Now, your childhood may have been wonderful, so this analogy may seem absurd, but give it some thought: You are told where to live, who to live with, and you have no choice. You go to a school where everything you do is regimented, and you're tested and measured and analyzed and forced to socialize in groups, whether or not that's the right learning setting for you. There are bullies and cliques and all sorts of crazy power dynamics. You might have an abusive parent or teacher or be tormented by your peers, and you can't do a damned thing about it unless it's so bad that the law has to step in. Isn't this a pretty fair description of prison life?
Some people are fine. In prison, if they are, we call them "institutionalized." Truth is, a child who navigates the American school system with ease is already institutionalized, and if they are not complying, these days they are given drugs. Is this crazy or what?
People who can't conform to institutional setting either become angry or collapse in on themselves with depression, and some people can feel both at the same time.
Bruce Levine writes a lot about how people say they are depressed when, in fact, they are demoralized. He has a good article on Counterpunch in which he says,
"Can people become so broken that truths of how they are being screwed do not "set them free" but instead further demoralize them?"
For the answer, go here. It's a good question. I have always marveled at how there are general strikes in European countries, but when similar circumstances arise in the U.S., no one bats an eye. I think there's other reasons besides demoralization (such as the promise of the American Dream), but as I've just written about that recently, I'll leave it be.
Oh yes. I have written about depression before. It's the gift that keeps on taking.
Ah well. I know I started this post with some other point to make, but digressions get me (almost) every time. Truth is, if I was being terse (most unlike me) I'd simply say this: I feel overwhelmingly sad, and it's a bit harder than usual to stay on topic. This too shall pass.
Cliches are pretty useful.