By Johnathon Lee
Depression isn’t something that you can just wish away with positive thinking.
It’s a biological condition—a state of being that isn’t entirely compatible with industrial culture. The chronically depressed are a culture of their own. Depression is a fundamental part of my life and my personality. It got to me young. It really settled in around puberty, and it’s pretty much stuck around for 20 odd years since then. Just when I think I’ve finally climbed out of it for good, BAM! It knocks me flat again.
I’ve taken many different antidepressants over the years, practiced dozens of religions and philosophies, and made positive life changes. It’s still there. My faithful shadow.
Things started getting better when I accepted that it’s part of me, and that there are probably good reasons for it to exist, including chronic sensory overload.
It’s not just me, either. Depression is my main way of connecting with others. I understand the depressed, the pessimistic, realistic, and tragically optimistic. I don’t understand “normal” people, so it’s hard for me to form bonds with them. One question I get asked when I tell my story is, “How have you made it this far?” There are tons of reasons, but one stands out:
Be a philosopher.
Don’t let the sadness freeze you in place for long. Don’t let your intrusive thoughts become resident conclusions. Investigate knew ways of viewing everything, and never settle with one. Keep exploring and searching for the truth.
It’s true, you’ll never find it. You’ll find relative, temporary truths, each one limited to a particular perspective. That shouldn’t prevent you from digging deeper and deeper into the matter. It’s the reason why philosophy can keep you going indefinitely.
There’s always more.
It’s not about studying and memorizing the wise words and logical proofs of a bunch of dead people. It’s a living tradition where you research things, apply them, and turn your life into a dialogue with them. If philosophy is done well, then it becomes an act of perpetual rebellion against, well, everything. Including our own views and our intrusive thoughts.
You might stumble on some answers that are sound enough to stick with, but make sure you don’t hold them too tightly. Always be willing to re-investigate your conclusions.
Depressives think deeply about things, and we’re naturally passionate people. Use that.
After awhile, you’ll start learning from everyday experiences too. You’ll see these theories in action, and you can even come up with your own.
I wouldn’t be alive without philosophy. The need to understand keeps me going even when I’m numb. When everything seems hopeless, you can even question that hopelessness and see that it’s also another passing conclusion based on limited data.
If you can hold out and persevere, it’ll pass and you’ll learn something knew about yourself, others, or life in general. You might meet some people who can philosophize with you, but the odds are slim. People don’t make contemplation into an art anymore. Don’t let this discourage you.
This is your journey, no one else’s.
Be skeptical of teachers and groups. They usually depend on dogma rather than active philosophy. They tend to have conclusions that they loathe to question because doubt is uncomfortable.
Maintain your inner revolution by investigating something from all sides. See for yourself if it works or makes sense, and then share your findings. Sharing is half the fun, especially if you ruffle some feathers in the process.
If you’re really a philosopher, you’ll definitely piss some people off, and you’ll contradict yourself often over the years.
That’s okay; we’re not looking for a paradigm to cling to. We’re doing this to stay alive. Please stay alive. Use that emotionality to fuel your curiosity. Live to understand why you live. Keep going. Keep breathing.
Breathe to be yourself.
Did you like this piece? Want to tip the author? Here is his tip jar: paypalme/jpendall
Were you moved by this post? You may also like: