People don’t like to talk about depression. By its inherent nature, it’s a taboo subject to bring up in polite conversation, or social discourse. But why is that? How can something which is intangible by its own virtue be so vehemently opposed by our society as a whole? I’d probably hazard a guess at this:
-People are so caught up in their own problems, that they don’t have the time to listen to other peoples.
This is not a problem, for the majority. Most people don’t have to listen to people when they are upset, lonely or having psychological issues. Due to the fact that contemporary society places somewhat of a stigma upon expressing feelings, or frank and open discussion, the ‘afflicted’ , as it were, feel morally obliged to hide their problems. We feel persecuted by a culture which places an emphasis on instant gratification, and immediate resolution of issues. Feeling down? Why should you have the right to feel sad? In an age with the internet, the world is, literally, at your fingertips. Self diagnose yourself with chronic depression, depersonalization disorder, a little bit of light misanthropy. Hell, while you’re there, you might aswell declare yourself a nihilist. You’re already so far down the rabbit hole, what’s a bit more kindling to add to the fire?
Naturally, I don’t believe this is the case for everyone. Infact, most people probably experience depression as a phase of what can likely be attributed to a momentary bump in their life plan. You’re 24, and you’re still not in a committed relationship, so you’re a completely romantic failure, till the end of your days. You’ve been working the same job for over a year, with no promotion, no respect, infact, you’ve gained naught but autonomy and resentment for a thing you said would only be a stepping stone for greater things. You wonder why all your friends from school moved on to greater things, and you’re stuck in the same place. Why the world is happy, and you are not. Welcome to the machine.
When people think about people who are depressed, or lonely, they naturally imagine these intangible symbols of what they assume the victim to look like. Naturally, your mileage may vary as to what you might believe they look like, but I assure you, you’re generalizing. Anyone can be depressed. Infact, a lot of people probably are, and they’re just not very aware of it. It can manifest itself in many different ways, of which a lot of people have been trained to believe is that of physical desperation, or self destructive mannerisms. Believe it or not, people can hide things very well. Marxist theory posits the idea that nobody truly has a legitimate personality, persay, only varied masks that they use in which to present a series of social affectations. Have you ever noticed how differently people act around different social groups? Or how people act much differently in front of their work colleagues, than they would their close friends, family, or loved ones? We present these varied examples of ourselves, because as a species, or even as contemporary society, we’ve learnt this:
-Give the people what they want.
Not everyone practices what they preach. How could they? People are inherently receptive to self depreciation in scenarios which would seem simple to solve were it presented by a friend or acquaintance. Just broke up with your partner? It wasn’t your fault. They’re the one missing out. You’re a great person, and you have everything to live for, so why should you feel bad about it? The grass is greener, and now you’re free to do whatever you want.
That’s what we tell our friends, right?
So why can’t we ingest that same advice for ourselves, and use it to develop as people in our own right? It’s down to context, and personal attachment, most likely. How can you ever be truly honest to someone, when you can’t even admit your own faults to yourself. They claim that the other person was the one who hurt you, and that you’re better off without them. But how can they REALLY know that? They don’t have the intimacy that you had with the person. Infact, did you? Was the person you fell in love with really the person who was presented to you? It’s hard to know this, realistically. At the end of the day, you have to trust people. It’s hard to do, but also very easy. Learn to love.
In my experience, loneliness can often be synonymous with aimlessness. I’ll try to explain by example.
I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty okay person. In school, I was never the most popular person, but I was also pretty universally accepted. I had a few friends that I felt were very close to me, and we all got on very well. In a way, they were there to serve a purpose- that being people to talk to about relevant interests in that part of our lives. When I got to college, I kept none of the friends I made at school, apart from one (and even then, we studied at different institutions). However, I found it very easy to make friends there. No longer forced into a strictly regimented, state mandated curriculum, it was much easier to find people who I could identify with more, with regards to particular passions of mine. I had different social groups, and I liked them all a lot. I made a really close friend there, who I suppose I identified with on a more ‘spiritual’ and intimate level, which is weird, as we were very different people who took none of the same subjects. In a lot of ways, I suppose I was incredibly smitten with them. They were like me in a lot of ways, but they also had something which I struggled to find in life, and defined themselves by. It was passion. They were very passionate about their craft and hobbies, and I think that was what I found so enlightening about them. They had a real spark of creativity which I really vibed off, and it was wonderful. However, they had a partner, seemed quite happy, and I didn’t wanna be the person that ruined that. Because people who do that are the worst kind of people. They have no empathy for their fellow person, which blows.
Despite this connection however, we lost touch once college ended. I don’t even know why. It was never an active thing, where I thought I was better, or didn’t need them anymore, because I desperately did. It just happened.
University was very different for me. Without getting into explicit detail, I found it tough. At least in my first year. I made one friend who was a great guy, but things happened which lead to us not talking anymore. Again, this just kinda happened over time. It was around this time that things started to go kind of bad for me. I got incredibly anxious socially, and I was on an incredibly potent antipsychotic, and it had awful side effects which included a horrible sense of dread, amongst other things which are either irrelevant, boring, or too upsetting to talk about. Regardless to say, I dropped out of university because of it. I couldn’t leave to go to class anymore, and that was just the end of things. I never explained to anyone what really happened, I just made them deal with the fact that “Something must have gone wrong and I didn’t get the grades I needed”. I got off the medication, and went back. It flew by.
I was acing all of my classes, and enjoying myself a lot. I had a really close friend, who I eventually ended up living with, and that was great fun. In my second year, I was kind of almost in a relationship with someone, but it was never really anything I was too into, so I kinda blew them off. I feel bad about how I did it, actually, I should apologise one day. My final year at uni was when things changed though. I’d rather not talk about the majority of it (at least in this post), but I met somebody wonderful who I fell head over heels in love with very easily. Things happened, we spent a lot of time together, and life was wonderful. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had everything on track. I didn’t know much of what I wanted in life, but I knew she was an integral part of it. Despite this though, it didn’t follow through. I don’t think they would ever admit this reason to me openly, but they met somebody else, thought they’d be happier together and broke things off with me. It was the worst part in my life. All those times when people say that you don’t know what you’ve got until you’ve lost it? They’re right on the money.
I don’t hold any malice towards my ex-partner though. Maybe they will be happier with their new found love. Infact, they probably will be. Needless to say, I’m not a part of their life anymore, and I doubt I ever will be. I’ll have to learn from it and move on, I suppose. I am purposefully omitting a large portion of what happened simply due to the fact that it’s somewhat of a sore point in my life, and while I am at peace with it myself, I am not particularly receptive to try and open a dialogue with someone about it. Maybe one day. If reading stoic theory has taught me one thing, it’s that things happen, and they will happen with or without you, so you might aswell accept it and get on with things.
I’m not sure when this piece went from being an open post about life in general, to a manifesto, to a memoir, but I suppose that’s what happens when you just need to empty your head after another restless night where you can’t get any sleep. I don’t really accept many people to ever read this, although secretly I wish people would do.
I’ve never been good at finishing my pieces of writing. I always feel like I’ve wrote enough, and because I never have an editing process, it invariably ends up just kind of fizzling out. In a lot of ways, I suppose I am lonely. But it’s due to my own actions in life, or lack thereof. I kinda know what I wanna do in my future, but I’m still unsure as to how I should go about doing such a thing. Especially with my partner having gone, it’s hard to find a new cornerstone, or dependant to rely on to help me out when things get kind of rough. Having no friends you can really rely on to hang out with is kind of upsetting, but I guess it’s just another small phase in life, another thing to test me and see if I can overcome it. I hope to one day have another small knit group of friends, but the older I get, the more I realise it can be kind of tough to do so. I’d even like to meet a new person and try to cultivate a new relationship with them. I think I’m ready again. Plus, the nights get pretty lonely when you’re on your own. Sometimes you crave a warm body next to you. Not just for sex, although I’ll admit that’s pretty great, it’s just nice to know that you’re alive. That you’re sharing intimacy with another person, where you can prove to yourself that by sharing something…intangible, hear their breath, feel their heart beating. It shows that we are alive, and we are taking advantage of the life that is given to us. It’s what proves that we are the very world itself.
In a lot of ways, writing this piece has left me with mixed emotions. I’m filled with a sense of longing for a human connection, and that’s upsetting. But I’m also relieved that I’ve managed to write something that’s been bothering me for a while.
If you want to know the truth, I don’t know what I think about it. It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you’ll start missing everybody.