Ever wondered how depression feels like?
It feels like being afraid of heights and having to live at the top floor of a skyscraper.
It also feels like the building is on fire. Burning from the inside out, slowly consuming floor by floor until it reaches you.
It feels as if your only choices are to either jump or accept that you are going to burn. Either way, you’re pretty much out of control.
That’s how I felt for years and years; so long, actually, that it became my own emotional baseline, so I understand quite well the difference between the burning pain of suffering deeply and the general apathy and hopelessness of depression. The emptiness. The lack of interest, joy, passion. I understand the despair, the loneliness, the reluctance to discuss about it all, the very fatiguing job of hiding it all behind a smile, or an “I’m fine” delivered in the worst way possible.
I understand wondering why no one can see how you feel, how are they so blind, and why are they so reluctant to believe you when you do tell them.
I understand because I’ve been that person.
“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”David Foster Wallace
I felt that someone, somehow should save me. That the world was big and scary and that people were mean and selfish and stupid. But someone… something had to happen. I hoped and I hoped and I waited and waited…
No one really saved me. No one offered me the help or the love that I wanted. No one came into my life to cure me of my loneliness, or my hopelessness or my apathy towards everything.
Here’s some troubling thought for you: we’re terrible at being a society. We’re terrible, because societies have one goal: to be as productive as possible. To create as many individuals as possible, to create a higher standard of living, to create the right tools and technological developments so we live longer and longer and in as much comfort as possible.
Societies are not about making us happy.
After all, The US Constitution protects the right to pursue happiness, but does not guarantee it.
Our happiness, as human beings, is such a simple thing that it even transcends what we understand as society. It transcends what the doctors are saying, what the therapists are saying, it’s…
Our psychology has remained the same for the past seventy two thousand years. Yeah, you read that right. Seventy two thousand. When we were walking twenty miles a day, hunting. When we were warriors. When all that we owned we could carry on us. When we lived in small groups of people… the best hunters this world had ever seen…
This is the funny thing. We think of our intelligence as being the only thing we’ve always had going for us. And we are weak animals, thus we must be something else.
You know what’s the most terrifying thing to any animal that’s ever lived?
A group of humans running after it shouting and yelling, carrying spears and spikes and bows and arrows…
You know why?
Because there is no animal on this planet that can outrun a group of humans. Not for long. No. It’s going to collapse on the ground sooner or later.
That’s what we were. That’s what we are. And we sit at our desks, we get stressed when the lady at the cash register takes too long to take our money, we get stressed when we see some news about something happening half a world away. We become attached to things we don’t even own…
We are the slaves of all these things… all these truly wonderful things, yes, that we’ve designed and built ourselves, but we are their slaves. We are afraid of losing them. We are afraid that someone is going to rob us, that our spouse is going to cheat on us, that…
That being said, if we are so bad at being a society, what makes you think anyone knows anything about the human brain? Or enough to really understand how to make it feel better? Because they don’t. I don’t.
I only know that this beautiful brain of ours can create about a billion different states of emotion. And we go through life cycling between five or six of them. No. We can do so much more than this. And we can use them in any way we want.
There’s so much to write about. I mean, there’s the difference between being proactive and being reactive. Our desire for comfort that turns us into weaklings…
Remember this: whenever you try to avoid suffering, you suffer.
That’s how you develop anxieties, phobias, and a general dislike for certain stuff. You once avoided to face your fear of something and it’s become easier to avoid it than to confront it.
The same goes for depression.
I cannot stress enough the importance of being active. Just active. Doing physical stuff. Truly amazing. I cannot explain it in simpler terms other than the fact that you feel like freaking Superman. That you become smarter, more emotionally intelligent, less emotionally reactive.
It’s the best medicine there is.
Then there’s the whole part of developing a mindset. Of catering to your thoughts.
First of all, there are some truly horrible things in this life. Accept them. Just accept that life’s pain and you’re going to die. Yeah, ok. If that’s how it is, why cry about it anyway? If there’s nothing you can do about it, why worry? Ok? Now, laugh about it. I mean it. Make it as funny as possible.
It’s like a lot of small steps. A lot of them. And I’ve tried a lot of things, and none of them seemed to work, but I kept doing it because, well, I just didn’t really wanted to feel like that anymore… and one day it all worked…
I am still fascinated by this.
Early on, about three or so years ago, I decided to do affirmations. Well, I also tried binaural beats and hypnosis and meditation, but I wrote some positive affirmations and, you know, I wrote them in the second person because I read it somewhere that that’s how to trick your subconscious… and they were truly nice things… positive stuff… what I wanted to be, how I wanted to be.
And I’d try reading them aloud and start crying. They’d make me sad, because those qualities… I’d never have those qualities. Reading them over and over again was so damn hard. My voice would shake…
No human being in their right mind does this over and over again, on a daily basis. It is masochism, if you think about it.
But I did.
And you know what’s the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning?
I look myself in the mirror and I go, “Cristian, I love you.” And this makes me smile. First thing. Before anything else. It’s just wonderful.
Considering that eight or so months ago I wanted to kill myself, I’d say this is quite the improvement.
Social interaction is important, I’d say.
Doing things that you know you should. We all have this mental list of all that we could improve when it comes to us. But we seldom take the appropriate measures.
There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t take much energy to get done.
The idea is to create a multitude of state breaks. To be so busy you have no time to be depressed, to be anxious, to have low self-esteem. You are busy living life, smiling, laughing, talking to friends and family, having a good time. Trying out new stuff, doing what you’ve always wanted to do…
The more energy you use, the more energy you have to use. Crazy, right? But it’s true. You gain momentum slowly, but then… just like an avalanche, you become unstoppable.
You can create your happiness, you can create anything you want. But it’s got to be you, and you alone. And you have to accept responsibility and you have to know it in your heart to be true.
Remember when we were warriors?
Be a warrior.