"...at least in my life I can go the heights, and go to the depths. That's a good life." ~ Angelica Huston
So much is made about depression. The mind taking people down.
I found myself, almost letting the word become part of my vernacular, 10 or 15 years ago and I'm sure I was exhibiting aspects of depression at times. I'd be glum, angry, sleep and not want to get out of bed.
I'd blame people, see the world as hopeless and think about exiting this world, ... stage left.
But what if, that is all normal. That's what I've learned about my own way of dealing with ... well, life.
I've come to face the fact that it isn't all a bed of roses, whatever that means. Or like the song from the 70's, Lynn Anderson belts out "I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden", as a kid I remember thinking it odd, that someone would glamorize the fact that life may suck sometimes, and oh, it may be me making your life suck. Of course, I had real life role models raising me who would show me the highs and lows of life, firsthand, so I got it, just thought it bold to sing about it so openly.
Maybe that's the problem these days, no one wants to sing about it openly, let alone talk about it or deal with the unsavory, glass half emptiness that occurs on a regular basis. We social network the good times in words and photos, to have an empty victory post (and followers to 'like' us), or gulp down some depressants in the liquid form of beer, wine or harder, pop a few capsule form anti-depressants or just stay in bed and avoid the "chaos". Americans! We don't know the first thing about chaos, or depression.
We're like little kids who have had our candy lollipop taken away if our life experience isn't awesome every moment. We need the thrill of acquiring more in our consumer ridden lives, better this and newer that to chase some feeling that elusively escapes us. We feign national pride every couple of years when the Olympics come around or switch to World Cup arousal for no apparent reason, none of us really like soccer. Anything to keep the high, and avoid the low.
What would happen if Americans were exposed to life near the Gaza strip, being bombarded daily with sirens bombs, friends and relatives being killed, haters coming after you daily? What kind of depression would ensue if you were Ukrainian facing the prospect of folding back into old world Russian dictatorship and loss of all the liberties that were so hard fought to win?
We can't as Americans grasp the meaning of true depressing thoughts, so we invent them. We quarrel and squabble with our spouses, our neighbors, our families, our pets. We get depressed if things don't go perfectly in our mini snow-globe world, trying each and every one of us to live in Potterville, well wake up! It isn't a wonderful life, the concept of people doing an about face and you're going to fall into it and live happily ever after from some outside miracle is bunk. That isn't to say miracles don't happen they do. And it is a wonderful life, its just people rarely change their stripes, like Mr. Potter did, so don't count on it happening.
Only YOU can make arrangements in your own head to make life tolerable, bearable and worth living. That's the crux of it, making it worth living, this life and doing the mental organization is tough work. Its hard to think, plan, motivate, look past set-backs and have goals. Most people give up on them, hate themselves and paint themselves as failures, or worse ... reach some modicum of success and then say, "good enough".
But that is a recipe for disaster. A little bit of success is a dangerous thing, it lends itself to having false pride and stagnation, and causes you not to reach for anything else. You see in life, the journey is what its about, and that journey is paved with potholes, road outages, floods, fires, tornados, earthquakes and sometimes, if you're prepared enough (notice I didn't say "lucky" because I don't believe in luck, you make your own) you will sail.
Sailing down the road, warp speed, unfettered is the rite of those who master their own domains. Seinfeld put a different spin, that wreaked of masterbatory inuendo, but I felt mastery of ones domain, or maybe dominion is about figuring out what your strengths are, and where they lie.
For me, my strength is knowing the Lord, my strength is having a cooperative loving family and my strength is in my preparation, planning and follow through.
I haven't always recognized this, but have come to, that the Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want (for anything), and attending a Church called Abundant Life, rings true the bounty and blessings that I'm afforded in this world, which are too numerous to mention. Truly blessed is the life I live.
My family, a source of constant consternation (in a good way), keeps me on my toes, on guard and trying to stay one step ahead in the learning (teaching) aspects of parenting. I so look for the teaching moments, instead of what's wrong with my family. Does it break me, yes, occasionally, I'm human. But I love my family for their perseverance, reverence and obedience. They are a reason to never be depressed, actually, and perhaps because loneliness is sometimes coupled with depression, I will talk about that a little bit later in this post. My point, I'm never lonely around my family, my loved ones.
Preparation and follow-through. I never glommed onto much in Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts, but I do remember their motto "Be Prepared" ( a good idea if camping out in the woods ), but also a good idea in life. I never was good at chess, but I know to be good at chess, you have to anticipate your opponents moves and think your moves a couple, if not several, moves in advance.
Life is like chess. There isn't necessarily causality in the one thing you do, but more like a pebble rippling into a very calm water, the ripples of what you do reverberate outword, sending energies into your world in beautiful sine waves. Thinking and preparing for what is next is really important, lest you have those ripples become tsunami's or have the pebbles be so many, that the ripples run into each other, dampening or causing harmonic distortion, in effect leveling out and nullifying your very intent.
To think ahead, is to be ahead. I've always been a fan of a 1 year plan, a 2-5 year plan, and even thinking 10 years out. Then I found myself, achieving all I wanted in my 5 year plan (in two years) and being stymied by how awesome this planning thing is, I was almost scared to do more of it.
Scared of your own success and awesomeness, is a contributing factor, to the malaise in owns own life, that can lead to depression. If you think you can't catch a break, its because you haven't made your own breaks happen. Harken's to the saying "If you think you can, or you think you can't, you're probably right". Genius, saying if you ask me.
It's all in your mind.
But let's get back to loneliness as a contributing factor. Yes, it is harder to be alone, with yourself, than one can possibly imagine it should be. Only then are you facing your own "El Guapo's" (in the Movie: The Three Amigos, El Guapo is a sinister being, that raids the villages, terrorizes the people, rapes, pillages and plunders), the classic line in the movie : "In a way, we all have our own El Guapo's to face. For some shyness might be their El Guapo. For others, a lack of education might be their El Guapo. For us, El Guapo is a big, dangerous man who wants to kill us".
So its in these moments of silence, and alone time, that one has to face their own personal El Guapo(s). I went to anger management class, after some rougher argumentative battles on the marriage front, and it struck me when the counselor said the end of the anger cycle is death. That vocalizing and verbal abuse, leads to physical abuse, leads to "red outs" (like "black outs"), leads to physical harm, leads to death.
O.k., I'm not wanting to be angry, thank your for the lesson. It worked, for me, to know this road leads to nowhere. I still battle being angry, but will not up the ante, anymore, its a losing proposition.
I think the same about depression. Where I differ from psycho analysis or medical establishments, is that they believe it isn't something that one can control, without therapy and / or drugs. I think we can.
Like anger, I think the end path of severe depression is death (suicide). So just like anger, I think it is incumbent on us to control depression. How?
Well, laying off booze and pills, will keep chemical imbalances of the brain in check. Eating healthy, organic foods, getting plenty of rest and exercise, helps. The brain is a chemical driven motor, so these things will all help the chemical imbalances. But moreover, there is "thought power".
Let you, be you. This is my first thought. You're ok, if you're down. If its overcast, you don't feel like going to work, or whatever "mood" you happen to be in, it doesn't necessarily have to be depressing. Live in the feeling of the moment, let it wash over you, get it out of your system, and MOVE ON.
Every day is a gift, so letting yourself move through these moments, and looking forward to something else is important so as Tony Robbins would say, "change your modality".
I love Tony Robbins saying we are all listening to the same broken record (or same tape) over and over in our mind. Ugh! Don't you get bored with that same old schtick!?! He says, change your modality and change your life. What does that mean?
Snap out of it! Tony, actually slapped someone in the face, who said "Why did you do that?", Tony said because I wanted to change your modality, your "way of thinking".
I think we all need a sharp slap-in-the-face from time and again, or as my old man would say "A swift kick in the pants". Either changes your modality, what's wrong with our society on this issue?
"Kid gloves". yes, everyone has been taught to "be nice", "play nice", "don't upset the apple-cart", no hitting, no spanking, no modality changes whatsoever, so people are free to have their "thoughts" run wild in their head.
We've created ourselves as "brats", and then we wonder why we have issues with our own self-satisfaction, and why we're depressed.
Some of it has to do with "the others". If we weren't in our own heads, wondering why we're not happy all the time, and started doing kind things for others (and sometimes the kindest thing you can do for an other, is to give 'tough love' truths to them, or give them that swift kick in the pants to get them out of their rut), but if we stopped worrying, and fretting and causing anxiety about what is wrong with our lives,
and started working on bettering the lives of those around us,
you would find,
a) meaning in your life
b) pride and accomplishment in your works
c) your time is used for purposes, not anti-purposes (thinking of ourselves all the time)
And you just might find, in that the Lord, in the world working through you in ways that put depressing thoughts in the rear-view mirror, and you living the purposeful life you always dreamed.