I’ve struggled with depression over the course of my life. There, I said it.
Depression was something I had always regarded as a sign of being mentally weak. To counteract my depression, I pushed through it by ignoring the emptiness… the despair… and tried to replace those feelings with a series of intimate relationships. The net result, aside from the countless notches on my headboard, was unhappiness. But I didn’t really have great coping skills in my youth either.
Today, it’s much different. I’ve learned to cope with depression in other ways. I’ve tried my hand at writing, a little sculpting/drawing, and devoting more time to my lifelong interest in learning more about world history. I find that filling my time with activities tends to limit the frequency and intensity of my bouts with depression. But there’s also a big downside to this approach. I usually get less than 4 hours of sleep a day… sometimes it’s as little as an hour. That can only go on so long before my body is exhausted. At some point I have to crash… sleeping for many hours at a time, trying to ‘catch up’. It cannot be good for my overall health.
It’s common for people who are experiencing difficulties in their lives to seek out religion. It’s not that I lack spirituality as much as it is not believing in organized religion to begin with. Religion provides people with a sense of belonging, comfort in times of crisis, hope for a better future, and reward in an afterlife. Not being a religious person, and not believing in an afterlife, there’s really no reason for me to adhere to any sort of moral compass or by societal standards… aside from creating pleasant living conditions for myself and my family. Let’s face it. The reality is that in order for many of us to be successful in life, we must adhere to certain standards, societal and otherwise.
Does that mean I can do anything I damn well please without concern for any repercussions? Absolutely not. I find that I’m still guided by a strong sense of what I consider right and wrong… good versus evil… and an obligation to others who depend upon me in the context of a family member, friend, or co-worker.
But, I do find myself wondering at times why any of it matters? I don’t believe in a god or gods. And if there aren’t any gods, then the concept of good and evil or right and wrong, are really just social constructs. All of it is then relative. The obligations that I feel towards others is, more or less, limited to my immediate family and close friends. And, as a very introverted person, my circle of friends is quite small.
I’ve reached a point in my life that I’m no longer too concerned in how others view me on a personal or professional basis with the exception of my family and close friends. Sure, I want people to like me but I won’t work for their approval. It either exists or it doesn’t. A sense of complacency now defines that part of my life.
That complacency, in conjunction with intervals of moderate/severe depression, have given me periods when I experience a complete lack of passion for life… a lack of empathy towards my fellow man… and that scares me. I know it isn’t healthy. Being the type of person that I am, I analyze myself constantly… my goals, my beliefs, and my obligations. But in the midst of an episode of depression, I wonder again… ‘why any of it matters?’