one of the key symptoms of depression is to see no hope. no future. far from the tunnel having light at the end of it, it seems like it is blocked at both ends, and you are inside it. so if i could have only known the future, that there would be one far brighter than anything i’d experienced, then one end of that tunnel would have been blown to pieces, and i could have faced the light.

when you are depressed you feel alone, and that no one is going through quite what you are going through. [...] and you don’t speak about it, which is a shame, as speaking about it helps. words – spoken or written – are what connect us to the world, and so speaking about it to people, and writing about this stuff, helps connect us to each other, and to our true selves.

the oldest clichés remain the truest. time heals. the tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we aren’t able to see it. and there’s a two-for-one offer on clouds and silver linings. words, just sometimes, can set you free.

‘but in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.’ — albert camus, a happy death

i wanted to be dead. no. that’s not quite right. i didn’t want to be dead, i just didn’t want to be alive.

you can be a depressive and be happy, just as you can be a sober alcoholic. it doesn’t always have an obvious cause. it can affect people – millionaires, people with good hair, happily married people, people who have just landed a promotion, people who can tap dance and do card tricks and strum a guitar, people who have no noticeable pores, people who exude happiness in their status updates – who seem, from the outside, to have no reason to be miserable. it is mysterious even to those who suffer from it.

it turns out that we are not only made of the universe, of ‘star-stuff’ to borrow carl sagan’s phrase, but we are as vast and complicated as it too. the evolutionary psychologists might be right. we humans might have evolved too far. the price for being intelligent enough to be the first species to be fully aware of the cosmos might just be a capacity to feel a whole universe’s worth of darkness.

when you are at the lowest ebb, you imagine – wrongly – that no one else in the world has felt so bad. i prayed to be those people. any of them. the women, the men, even their dogs. i craved to exist in their minds.

where talk exists, so does hope.

‘...once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. you won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. but one thing is certain. when you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. that’s what this storm’s all about.’ — haruki murakami, kafka on the shore

LIFE IS HARD. it may be beautiful and wonderful but it is also hard. the way people seem to cope is by not thinking about it too much. but some people are not going to be able to do that. and besides, it is the human condition. we think therefore we are. we know we are going to grow old, get ill and die. we know that is going to happen to everyone we know, everyone we love. but also, we have to remember, the only reason we have love in the first place is because of this. as emily dickinson, eternally great poet and occasionally anxious agoraphobe, said: ‘that it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.’

‘your mind is a galaxy. more dark than light. but the light makes it worthwhile. which is to say, don’t kill yourself. even when the darkness is total. always know that life is not still. time is space. you are moving through that galaxy. wait for the stars.’

you need to be uncomfortable. you need to hurt. as the persian poet rumi wrote in the twelfth century, ‘the wound is the place where the light enters you.’ (he also wrote: ‘forget safety. live where you fear to live.’)

[...] depression is also... smaller than you. always, it is smaller than you, even when it feels vast. it operates within you, you do not operate within it. it may be a dark cloud passing across the sky, but – if that is the metaphor – you are the sky. you were there before it. and the cloud can’t exist without the sky, but the sky can exist without the cloud.

‘and thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on’ — lord byron, childe harold’s pilgrimage

having people who love you and who you love is such a help. this doesn’t have to be romantic, or even familial love. forcing ourself to see the world through love’s gaze can be healthy. love is an attitude to life. it can save us.

being good feels good because it makes us remember that we are not the only person that matters in this world. we all matter because we are all alive. and so kindness is an active way in which we can see and feel the bigger picture. we are ultimately all the same thing. we are life. we are consciousness. and so by feeling part of humanity, rather than an isolated unit, we feel better. we might physically perish, like a cell in a body might perish, but the body of life continues. and so, in the sense that life is a shared experience, we continue.

the key to happiness – or that even more desired thing, calmness – lies not in always thinking happy thoughts. no. that is impossible. no mind on earth with any kind of intelligence could spend a lifetime enjoying only happy thoughts. the key is in accepting your thoughts, all of them, even the bad ones. accept thoughts, but don’t become them. understand, for instance, that having a sad thought, even having a continual succession of sad thoughts, is not the same as being a sad person. you can walk through a storm and feel the wind but you know you are not the wind.

nothing makes you feel smaller, more trivial, than such a vast transformation inside your own mind while the world carries on, oblivious. yet nothing is more freeing. to accept your smallness in the world.

i am you and you are me. we are alone, but not alone. we are trapped by time, but also infinite. made of flesh, but also stars.

apr 21 2019 ∞
apr 21 2019 +