Depression is a Sane Response to Our Times

I haven't been posting any essays of late. There are a number of reasons for that, some personal. But the prime cause of my absence here can be summed up in one word: depression. Since last year, I have been struggling with that condition on a daily basis. One could call it a mental disorder were there not so many reasons, so much that has happened and continues to happen. To my mind it is a sane response to an insane world.

I feel old today, and I am a very sick and tired human being. I've struggled with depression most of my life, but my current condition rivals the worst periods of despondency and feelings of helplessness I've ever known. I do my best to put on a brave face for my family, my wife and children, but it becomes more and more difficult each day.

I look at recent events and all I see is chaos, madness, anger, hatred, deceit, greed, violence, war, denial, cruelty, the destruction of our planet and death, both death in the present sense, and the multitude of deaths that will come. And I see no way to prevent the path our species is taking, here in this country or around the globe. I fear we are heading into an inferno of our own creation, one that we have long passed the ability to escape.

Death from extreme weather events caused by climate change, with the promise of more to come from mega-droughts, massive wild fires, heat waves, storms, floods, plagues, water scarcity, famine, migration to escape the ravages that are becoming worse by the day and other horrific consequences that I cannot foresee.

Death from the myriad wars and armed conflicts that are ongoing, many, if not most of which, our country has played a leading role in its determination to retain its imperialistic control.

Death from violence caused by hatred of anyone not like ourselves, hatred promoted by those who have everything to gain by keeping us divided and weak.

The coming deaths Trumpists and other right wing movements around the globe are planning for so many people in their war against the most vulnerable among us.

Deaths caused by law enforcement and by criminals, alike (though these days law enforcement is just a legalized form of criminality).

Death from the wars that so many among the powerful desire and, indeed, revel in, wars that destroy nations, kill and maim millions of people, but which provide profits to those who engender them.

I see no answers to the authoritarian, militaristic state that the USA has become since the end of WWII, but especially in the years following 9/11.

And I see no answers to the corruption of our political system, where the corruption among both major parties far surpasses any that our nation experienced in its history, even that which occurred during the gilded age following the Civil War. Corruption that extends to all our major institutions from governments at all levels, our judicial system, our news media, so-called charitable organizations, the police who protect the rich, and our military establishment to name but a few.

What we need is a powerful counterweight to this corruption, but I don't see one forming yet, at least not one that can match the power of those who control the puppet strings, our oligarchs and their boot-licking servants.

I confess, I may be unable to see any hope because of my deep despair over the course of current events, and the seemingly intractable problems we as a species face. Problems that our political and oligarchic leaders ignore or encourage to grow as they drive us ever closer to extinction, producing ever more misery for ever more of us, all so they can squeeze money out of their the destruction of our planet, even as they work tirelessly to weaken our ability to come together to confront their self-imposed death march.

My only hope, if you can call it that, resides in the younger generation, for it is clear that those of my generation, and those who hold power, have failed miserably in foreseeing the consequences that the actions they have taken based on their beliefs, compromised values and ideological blind spots. Only the young have the energy to combat the forces of darkness that are threatening our lives. You may think my use of the the phrase "forces of darkness" is gross hyperbole, but as I have grown older, and have learned more about the true nature of the powers that be and their agenda, it seems an understatement to me. Last year, when I worked so hard against these forces, and saw many of them for what they were for the first time, has broken my spirit for the time being.

I hope that, at some point, my depression will lift. I also hope that a coherent, well organized movement of people across the globe will arise who see the true nature of the problems we face, and have the courage to stand up and fight for human dignity, respect and our very survival. History tells us that such movements are rare, but perhaps the dire straits in which we find ourselves, and the great awakening so many experienced last year will create the conditions for such a movement, one that ignores our differences and unites us based on our shared humanity and love, if not for other people, at least for the future of all our children.

But forgive me if I am not an optimist regarding humanity's chances at this moment in time. May those of you still in the fight, still seeking to create a way to change the path that the powerful elites are driving us down like so much cattle, a path that can only lead to more misery and slavery for most of us and, ultimately, the catastrophic collapse of civilization and society, not lose hope in your efforts. They are sorely needed in this time of tribulation. Perhaps at some point in the future I will rejoin your ranks.

Until then, good luck to all of you.

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33 users have voted.

Comments

Lookout's picture

and it is easy to feel disheartened. I know it sounds weird but I've found it almost liberating thinking that our species won't survive the century. All the political bullshit becomes unimportant. It has caused me to focus on enjoying the time we have.

I still speak my mind and try to walk with light footsteps, but I have a greater appreciation for the nature of the living world as it is today...for I think the changes are coming faster than expected.

Next week will bring the equinox and the light will be greater than the dark for awhile. I hope your darkness may be dimmed with the coming light. Wishing you the best...

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28 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Deja's picture

@Lookout

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4 users have voted.

"The gatekeepers must change."
Prince

from depression, but you Still have steely eyed clarity in succinctly laying out the issues. Don't ever lose that vision, Bruddah! It is a too rare thing in this day and age of willful ignorance/blindness that surrounds us.
You are Not alone! Although what That knowledge portends I have no idea.
My only counsel to you is to keep writing, keep Breathing and keep heart!

peace

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22 users have voted.

Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .

dkmich's picture

I'd say you need a shrink.

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18 users have voted.

*donate *follow us on Twitter *like us on Facebook *dump Google

riverlover's picture

I take an antidepressant,and doubled the dose for the winter months. So after foot, I will try to cut back again, the light and warmer weather makes it worth a try. Several worries have solved themselves; selling the cottage and oddly, the death of my mother.

I no longer watch TV and generally only read the local papers. That acts as a buffer from some of the national and international "news". Gives me a false sense of control.

Steven, are you taking an antidepressant? I found that it did help me. And my PCP prescribed one that is less likely than others to have withdrawl effects like brain zaps, should I ever feel like I want to try without again. Other than slight health problems my biggest battle is with loneliness. c99 helps somewhat with that.

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15 users have voted.

Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.

PriceRip's picture

          There was a day the above thought became real to me and the fog began to lift. That day was long ago and it (as trite as it may sound) has sustained me. The photo I use as my avatar commemorates that time in my life.

          Take care of yourself. Several of us value your thoughts and insight.

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20 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

January, finally. I'd been off them for almost a full year, and I knew a lot of my then depression and anger (irritability is the warning sign for me that I need to be on the damned things) was related to the death of my mother, estrangement from my sister, and the sorry state of the world. I found myself VERY depressed and anxious after the "election" and went back to the doctor and got back on them. They aren't a magic bullet and really, they only make the symptoms more bearable, but I do feel somewhat better. I find the runaway depression of thinking about the world and some of the crying jags have gone away. I don't have that same despair to use the only word that seems to fit, but there are still days when I find myself wanting to cry and scream. This place helps immensely! I don't know what I would do some days without this place.

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21 users have voted.
Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@lizzyh7 I'm considering going back on them.

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4 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

earthling1's picture

This morning, I had it out with my youngest son, in his 40s, about what is happening to our country. He is in complete denial. To the point he has retreated to his church, curled up under a pew, frightened but unable to understand why. He insists the bible predicts ALL of this and that there is nothing anyone can do. He has completely capitulated to reality and I am so heartbroken.
I have put his preacherman at the top of my "Fucket List", where as once I know for shure I only have months or weeks to live, I'm taking him with me.
Fuck it, what can they do to me.
Try to back away from whats going on for awhile. Unplug. Watch only science or educational programing as they have a positive, future orientation.
These blogs and diaries and essays can be overwhelmingly negative.
And besides, we are going to really need you, Mr. Future President.
See, feel better already, huh?

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15 users have voted.
eyo's picture

Thanks Steven D, here's a {hug} if you want one. Even the word stigma sticks on me, it is insidious throughout daily life, and like depression it is everywhere. Hope it's okay if I throw in some Disability "Facts" from the Social Security Administration. Thanks
https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityfacts/materials/pdf/factsheet.pdf

Fifty-six million Americans, or 1-in-5, live with disabilities.Thirty-eight million disabled Americans, or 1-in-10, live with severe disabilities.

Disability is something many Americans, especially younger people, think can only affect the lives of other people. Tragically, thousands of young people are seriously injured or killed, often as the result of traumatic events.

Many serious medical conditions, such as cancer or mental illness, can affect the young as well as the elderly. The sobering fact for 20-year-olds, insured for disability benefits, is that more than 1-in-4 of them becomes disabled before reaching retirement age. As a result, they may need to rely on the Social Security disability benefits for income support. Our disability benefits provide a critical source of financial support to people when they need it most.

And what about the ones who are not "insured for disability benefits"? Streets!

I feel bad because I am now "one of those people", granny in the ditch, unable to get out. "Feeling bad" is a symptom, low self esteem it is always dragging down the way, never up. It's a different kind of psychology to fall out of the middle-class in to poverty while growing older, the American Dream in reverse.

Peace & Love
Happiness by The Pointer Sisters

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21 users have voted.

On a blog.

smiley7's picture

mutual feelings here. Thank you for expressing and sharing them.

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17 users have voted.
Pricknick's picture

I decided long ago, that the things I can not change, I will not let bother me.
Those that I can change or make a difference in, I pursue with the ability I have.
Your list is far too long for any one person to tackle. It would be wise to evaluate those things and decide what if any you can make a change in. Worrying or stressing over those you have no control of is unproductive. Pick and chose.
Stress is a precursor to poor health. Although you've had many health issues, stress is one that you must take control off. To not do so will intensify all the others.
I'll vape some kush with you in mind. It's one of my favorite stress relievers along with shutting everything off.
Best of luck to you.

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14 users have voted.

Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

Granma's picture

And politics. It is too much. And do as much self-care and self indulgence as you can manage.

Know that you are not alone. Many of us are fighting similar feelings lately. You are important to many people who care about you. Trust that you will feel better and experience joy again. I hope that will be soon for you.

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12 users have voted.

for the first time in 3 years suited up in the squall jacket, balaclava, sorrel ( -45 degree) boots, etc, and exhilarated. Ok, I am the absolutely last person to give you advice. I have never felt a week of negativity in my life, certainly hours here and there, a day, but never days. My sibling once said I'd sucked all the seratonin out of the family. Too true. One time I texted my brother at 3 AM, my usual arising time, with my usual message beginning "so here's my idea....". He texted back: "So here's my idea: I'm looking for a hit man." Just so you know, I am misunderstood, and the last person etc. But Steven D., I so enjoy and value your posts. I know so much about you due to your sharing stories about your wonderful wife and your family. I really can't bear to think about you're having these dark thoughts. You are so important to this site and to me. So.... Some stupid advice from someone who finds happiness, really elation, in the smallest things (me):Pick a small thing now, the big things later, now a really small thing: a tomato seed in an egg shell, and watch it. Tend it. Move it from this window to that. All the big things, put over there, and deal with them over there. Check out the seeds. 2 weeks, and lookie there! Love you and yours.

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13 users have voted.

You have admirers here, oh yeah, we love what you write, but if assembling the information and commenting upon it furthers your depression, well, we can all just wait for one of your future sunny days.
Over the years of having competency hearings, I have known and become friends with numerous psychiatrists and psychologists.
They all agree on one behavioral modification: think short term and think small.
All of us want to hide under the bed and not think about famine or nukes. Crooked governments everywhere, the oligarchy choking off the air supply of the poor.
But you can think about a bright spot looming day after tomorrow. A kid's birthday next week. Or awaiting the arrival of a book that you always wanted to read.
Break down your existence into the now and the immediate future, and you will likely find something worthwhile, something that makes you happy that at that moment, you felt an immersion into the reason you exist.
So, I hope to read something from you next week, my friend.

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11 users have voted.
mhagle's picture

,, , the depression and WWII? I bet it was the same.

That was a truly hopeless time. What can we learn from that?

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9 users have voted.

Marilyn

Let's save the planet for our kids. Tree Hugger to the end.

Deja's picture

Please take care of yourself. Your anxiety about the state of the world, and the what ifs remind me of my early 20s daughter. That saddens me for you both. I don't "know" you, but I care about you, just the same. I also admire you, just like her, for your palpable empathy and concern for the world, and all of us in/on it.

I'm praying/sending out positive energy to you, in hopes that you find your way out of the hole of despair you've found yourself in. I truly do care. Good luck, you wonderful human being!

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8 users have voted.

"The gatekeepers must change."
Prince

karl pearson's picture

Steven D, you are not alone and I have been having some of the same feelings you express. Tonight I felt better listening to one of my favorite songs since high school. I wanted to share it with you. Hope you feel better soon. Spring is just around the corner and the days are getting longer.

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5 users have voted.

Hey, I've been a lurker here for a while, so take this for what it's worth, but you are writing an essay that I feel I could have written myself. I won't go into my whole story, and I have the consolation of being in a better place than some, but I'm also not far from that edge either and I don't see a way out from our enemies on the right or our "friends" on the left. Sorry to be a downer, but I wish I had an answer. I really do.

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6 users have voted.
Mark from Queens's picture

We're here for each other, aren't we? That's what this is all about: knowing we're not alone or crazy while it seems the whole world has gone mad.

I have mixed feelings about the "damned human race," as Twain put it and had eviscerated in a series of essays and letters during the latter part of his life. Like fellow American poet laureate Kurt Vonnegut (and the great comedian/sage George Carlin), they pretty much gave up on the species as an arrogant, selfish, and deserving of its fate.

All told, I'm a little more sanguine, though their brilliant musings on the subject really resonate with me. I see hopeful stuff everywhere, as many here have said in the small things (turning away from the media circus helps, a lot).

Vonnegut tried to explain it in an address to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1971, by relating an encounter as a graduate student at the University of Chicago with his anthropology professor Robert Redfield:

[Redfield] acknowledged that primitive societies were bewilderingly various. He begged us to admit, though, that all of them had certain characteristics in common. For instance: They were all so small that everybody knew everybody well, and associations lasted for life. The members communicated intimately with one another, and very little with anybody else.... There was no access to the experience and thought of the past, except through memory. The old were treasured for their memories. There was little change....

I say to you that we are full of chemicals which require us to belong to folk societies, or failing that, to feel lousy all the time. We are chemically engineered to live in folk societies, just as fish are chemically engineered to live in clean water—and there aren't any folk societies for us anymore.

How lucky you are to be here today, for I can explain everything. Sigmund Freud admitted that he did not know what women wanted. I know what they want. Cosmopolitan magazine says they want orgasms, which can only be a partial answer at best. Here is what women really want: They want lives in folk societies, wherein everyone is a friendly relative, and no act or object is without holiness. Chemicals make them want that. Chemicals make us all want that.

Chemicals make us furious when we are treated as things rather than persons. When anything happens to us which would not happen to us in a folk society, our chemicals make us feel like fish out of water. Our chemicals demand that we get back into water again. If we become increasingly wild and preposterous in modern times—well, so do fish on river banks, for a little while.

If we become increasingly apathetic in modern times—well, so do fish on river banks, after awhile. Our children often come to resemble apathetic fish—except that fish can't play guitars. And what do many of our children attempt to do? They attempt to form folk societies, which they call "communes." They fail. The generation gap is an argument between those who believe folk societies are still possible and those who know they aren't.

As others here have been relaying I feel a sense of depression too. But I must admit it would be a lot greater if we were sitting here now enduring the insufferable praising by the media of the first women president and all the empty platitudes drooling out of her mouth.

That said, I strangely feel at peace with my species now with the specter of people waking up to the charade that politics is now that this fraudulent system has given us the most low-grade moron, mentally unstable, celebrity douchebag who just be his presence makes a mockery of the whole thing. We've all been trying to tell people how corrupt, dysfunctional, and ineffective the system is; now people have no choice but to accept that ugly truth.

And that's a good thing. When I'm out around people, and maybe it's just me, I feel more of a camaraderie with people, a sense that people seem to want to help each other more, a sense that even in the worst of times it brings out the best in people (that's true always, I believe).

But the undeniable sense malaise many of us feel now, I think, is the combination of may things, including the realization that social media isn't a substitute for real, in-person, meaningful relationships. As well as a hard realization that consumerist/capitalist society has been trying to sell us all manner of gadgets, trinkets and facsimile of community through sports/tv/celebrity worship for so long, so much so that people have forgotten and don't even look anymore for the healing power of simple gatherings like breaking bread with friends and community to talk about matters that effect us all. We've been trained to hide behind and see our experiences through commercial media, acquisition of goods (materialism) and an emphasis on self-interest/individualism, instead of the engines of society, which are empathy and compassion, collaboration and cooperation.

I never felt better about my species than standing among my kindred spirit peers at Occupy Wall St. That spirit still very much is alive. A movement doesn't experience the solidarity it did, when a month on, a clarion call to the world to start their own occupations resulted in thousands sprouting up all over the globe. Whenever I'm a little down that we no longer have a public space occupied by rebels, who were dreaming in public, had created street theater of a utopian society, in calling attention to the core of the problem afflicting the world's population, capitalism gone amok, I have a look at these photos the Atlantic published about this remarkable development.

That amazing spirit Occupy brought out didn't die. It's still very much alive, and growing. We need to help manifest it.

May I also make a suggestion to you, and all here? We should start thinking of organizing a Spring C99 meetup very soon. I think it would be a really good thing for many of us.

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4 users have voted.

(thirty three and a third at TOP)

"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

Steven D's picture

@Mark from Queens @Mark from Queens I'd like that. Thanks Mark.

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4 users have voted.

"You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution."---Tyree Scott

Steven D's picture

It's helpful to me to hear from you.

I hope I and everyone who feels the same way can find a way to get past this malaise (as good a word as any) that has descended over those of use suffering from the blues right now.

You're all good people and I appreciate you so much.

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3 users have voted.

"You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution."---Tyree Scott