DEPRESSION IN AMERICA – What It Feels Like To Be Different Here


Depression in America

Reflection from February 10, 2008 @ 26 Years Old

INTRODUCTION – This is a long essay pulled from a much lengthier composition, in which the writer describes the effects of the American Society on her 20-something American Psyche.

I thought about Dave earlier today, just about an hour ago really, and I remembered something so entirely endearing it made me smile (which is a rare occurrence these days), and now I’m so entirely irritated because I can’t f’ing remember what it was.  The incident was rare itself, really, because I usually only remember the most painful of memories relating to Dave.  It was a breath of fresh air in my stale vacuumed atmosphere of existence.

Thinking, thinking…I just can’t seem to remember now, but I do remember that it made me think about love.  It made me think about the kind of love that begins at first sight, and then grows stale and old and forgotten.  And well, in comparison, the kind of love that begins at first sight, but doesn’t come round full circle for some time.  I imagine my love for Dave was of the latter kind; I really want to believe he felt the same too.  But now I shall never know.

I don’t know, I can’t remember.  I’m highly disappointed in my memory, but then again what else is new?  My memory’s failed me most of my life.  It was something amazing though, it brought joy into my cold empty heart.

Anyways, that happened and then I started remembering more from high school, how I used to dread going in on Monday and Fridays because everyone would be all “what are you going to do this weekend?” and “what did you do last weekend?”.  I remember how ashamed I was, how hard it was to hide that I didn’t have any friends and stayed home every Friday and Saturday night.  How can you explain to other teenagers that being around other people is far more painful than being alone?  How does a teenager explain such a thing to herself?

Which led me to think, how in the world can you explain to a child why some children get to have new clothes and go on vacations and do fun things while other children are not so lucky?  I think it’s telling that adults have constantly to lie to children in order to protect them from the very world these parents brought them into.  Some people think it’s a selfish act, to not want to have children, but if we’re judging – who’s to say it’s not more selfish to make carbon copies when you could help out a child who’s already been born into this hell on earth without a soul who actually cares for them?  How in the world do you explain to a child that some kids have parents who love them, and others have parents who beat them and molest them and degrade them?  I don’t understand how ever people choose to bring children into this world.  Except that I can, and I’m sure in most instances (except of course rape, and the like) it’s only the temporary euphoria of love that in fact, does make this world go round.

Well maybe not round, but I’m sure love is primarily responsible for the repopulation of human beings on this earth.  It’s such a shame that this love that brings children into this otherwise unbearable life of suffering, is primarily what a person spends their entire life suffering in search for.  Anyways…

I’ve lots to say, I’ve been taking notes because I’ve been too tired to write the past few days, which is kind of disappointing because I think I always write better when writing in the heat of passion.  But whatever, the ideas obviously were somewhat important if I recorded them for later explanation.  Here goes…(aarrghhh I’m so f’ing annoyed I can’t remember what it is about David that I’ve now forgotten – it’s fitting, don’t you think, that one of the few memories of Dave that actually brought joy into my life, was here but a minute and is now banished from my mind.)

Well, I was thinking the other day, about how, for me, most of my life, it’s been far worse living out my life sentence of loneliness in the presence of others, than it has been living out my existence in the absence of others.  It’s funny how people assume that those who are mentally ill are isolating on purpose, as if we’d prefer to be alone.  What they fail to realize is the concept that being lonely in the presence of others is far worse than being lonely, alone.  Okay that’s kind of reiterating what I said above, so let us move on…

This isn’t what I’m trying to remember, but I do think it’s also telling that I went to see Star Wars (and that’s emphasis for the idea, not to indicate it’s a movie title), anyways, I went to see Star Wars with Dave and his friends just so I could spend three hours sitting next to this boy.  Boy was I mad about him.

One of the most difficult things in this life is to realize that everyone around you, your friends and your family and everyone else, has moved on, when you have been stuck in the same place for what seems like an eternity.  I just feel like such a child, I feel so much younger than I’m supposed to be, which is funny too because I also look much younger than I’m supposed to be – always have.

Anyways (and I’m sorry I keep saying that, but it really is my most favorite transitional phrase), nothing makes me feel more lonely than when the people around me are moving forward, buying houses and going on vacations and getting engaged and getting married, having babies, when here I am, stuck in the past.  Or is it the present?  I don’t even know!  That’s the worst part.

It’s funny how truly I understand what Kurt Cobain meant when he said he wished he was so easily amused.  I think most people in my life are amused with such simple things because they don’t need meaning in their life to justify the pain of existence.  Some people live and breathe and do things and spend time with other people and go to places and really that’s all they need in life, to be immediately amused.  But others, ohh others live not in constant comfort, but rather the opposite and need more in order to sustain.  People commit suicide because living is far more painful than facing the mystery and finality that come with death.

What most people don’t understand, in regard to suicide, is that it really, in most cases, has nothing at all to do with circumstance.  It has to do with consciousness, namely an inherently painful one – a concept which cannot be understood without being felt.  People fundamentally misunderstand the underlying premise of suicide, but judge all the same because they think they know what it’s like.  They have no idea, and if they did, they’d be singing a different song altogether I’m quite sure.

Alright, I’m getting tired of writing and have to work on my bar application.

Later

You know what else is funny my dear friend?  I find it poignantly striking that I write and I write, hell this is already a 6-1/2 page paper…single-spaced, just from today, and I’m still going; anyways, it’s that I write and I write and when I tell people I write, they can’t even imagine what in the world I could go on talking about for such substantial lengths of time.

I find that my mind is one that delves infinitely into thought that sometimes relates to present circumstance, or is perhaps triggered voluntarily or involuntarily by present circumstance, but my mind travels at such speeds and to such far reaching places that I’m sure, even upon good faith effort, “normal” persons will never understand.  And it leads me to wonder, is that what people mean when they talk about a person having depth?

Does “depth” indicate that the given person is one possessing a mind capable of delving to such great depths in order to ponder such a thing as the meaning of life?  Because I’ll tell you what, a lot of people couldn’t really care less about the meaning of life.  They take life for granted and don’t wonder about why we are here, and what it all means, and whether it will all be worthwhile in the end.

It’s so intriguing, the thought that the depth of a person is premised upon the depth to which their mind wanders.  And when speaking of depth of mind, is that referring to the soul?  I think they can tell which parts of the brain are attached to each bodily sensation, and maybe which part of the brain is primarily responsible for thought even, but I don’t think those doctors yet know what exactly is responsible for the actual thoughts that run through any one of our heads at any particular moment.

You know, I was reading on the Internet, and I can’t find the exact quote now, but I just wanted to say that I read somewhere on the Internet that one symptom of mania is a rhyming or rhythmic pattern in thought.  Which is interesting, because when I’m manic I think that’s when I feel like I can write with beautifully rhythmic precision.  It’s hard to explain, but when I get to that state of being, I love the way I write – so passionately and so beautifully, it just sounds beautiful, the words sound so much more beautiful, they’re so much more than mere words when I write in this state.  Anyways, I thought that was interesting as I think it’s linked with bipolar and my being such some and all.

I read something particularly disturbing I want to mention, when I was looking for that rhythm thing.  Some girl wrote about why her bipolar experience is so difficult, saying that she didn’t like it because she couldn’t tell when it was her making decisions or when it was her disease making her decisions.  I quite disagree; I think my personality is embodied in my bipolar disorder.  I believe in large part that who I am consists of who I am when I am manic and who I am when I am depressed, and also who I am when I am right in the middle (though this is a rare occurrence I must admit).  I believe my personality, who I am, is inextricable from my bipolar illness – it makes me, me.

Another disturbing thing I read, one article stated that people in manic states “like to think” that they are the smartest, most brilliant people alive.  This is fundamentally wrong and I’m willing to bet that someone who is not bipolar wrote this.  A person in a manic state does not “like to think” they are brilliant, they just do.  There’s no choice involved, kind of like there’s no choice to manage our moods, they’re up or they’re down but it’s pretty much out of our control.  To assert that someone who is in a manic state “likes to think” that they are brilliant is the same as saying that a person induces their own manic state by choice of thought.  Fundamentally wrong in the entirety.  Whoever wrote that should be banned from ever writing on bipolar disorder again.

Ohh boy, I’ve been writing for so long and my eyes hurt from looking at the computer screen so really I’ve got to wrap it up here quite soon.  I’ma take a dinner break first though, then finish up, then start my m’f’g bar exam application.

You know, I have this thing going on for me in that I absorb all these words right, just through reading and daily life and the like, and then when I’m writing and a tone and idea is created, descriptive words randomly pop into my mind, which I cannot define off hand but rather just seem to fit the context, and when I look them up in the dictionary they almost always do fit to the context.  I wonder if that has to do with the bipolar.  Strange.  Okay, din dins…

Okay, no, just one more thing I have to mention before I go.  I’ve been in a depressed state for days now, but I think I’m entering mania today.  I’ve barely been hungry since yesterday, my mind has been racing since last night, I couldn’t fall asleep last night until 4am, I feel high high high like I’m on a cocaine rush and then I crash and burn and feel absolutely exhausted.  I’m so fucking tired.  My mind is all over the place.  I don’t know.  I don’t fucking know if I’m manic or normal or fucking crazy.  I don’t know.

I’m pissed I can’t remember whatever it was I remembered earlier regarding Dave.  It’s just as well though – it’s fitting that his memory brings mostly pain, as did our relationship.  I think I derived the greatest joy out of my life thus far from my relationship with him, and yet it’s also given birth to my greatest sorrows.

Anyways, what else?  I read this waste of a time book called Bimbo Blondes from New York City who never have to work because they inherited all the money and all the riches they could ever hope for in a lifetime.  It was incredibly annoying, stupidly entertaining at best.  The fucking main character speaks of suicide with such naivety it makes me want to puke.  She dishonors the suffering of millions of people through nothing more than her own stupidity.  It made me very angry.  Did I mention I’m feeling incredibly irritable?

Do you have any idea what it’s like to have to take medication three times a day just to be “normal”, to be able to “fit in”?  No one knows what that is like unless they’ve been there.  When your own mind, your own body betrays you constantly, it’s a terribly murderous feat finding reason enough to go on.

What people don’t understand is that you cannot understand mental illness if you have not yet been victim to it.  It’s not rational, it doesn’t fucking make sense.  Mental illness makes a person different from the norm, sometimes for better, many times for the worse.  But it’s not a decision, a lack of fucking willpower that renders us this way.

We are powerless in choosing our mental states in the same way we are powerless in choosing our families.  Mental illness is not a choice, it’s a condition.  A life-sentence is the best way to describe it.  A life sentence of almost constant misery with few and far moments of ecstasy in between that merely render everyday life all the more miserable.  It’s just not something you can understand through reason, and I wish people would stop trying to make sense of it all.  It defies all rationality we otherwise cling to with our dear lives.

We are chosen and we serve our sentence, sometimes people just can’t take it.  I think it helps to have creative outlets and it does seem to help in a lot of ways to not drink and do drugs in order to manipulate – but do not be fooled my friend, there is no opt-out for mental illness.  There is no get-out-of-jail-free card.  We are sentenced for life, and there’s not a damn thing we can do to change our fate.

Alright, another thought, they don’t stop coming.  And I’ll have you know I never fucking started my bar application.  Ahh well…

I was just thinking about one day last year when I was temping and talking with this really nice guy Troy, who said he was married and I think both were divorced prior with kids, and all together they had like four or five kids.  Well anyways, I remember saying I don’t know how people do it, work fulltime and take care of kids and do all the other bullshit you have to do for life.  I said “ohh boy, I only have me to take care of and my two cats, and feel guilty because I don’t even spend all that much time with them!”

I wonder, now, whether I made that guy feel really fucking lousy in making that observation.

It’s true though, I understand parts of people wanting to have kids and all, but if you barely even have any time left over after work to spend with them anyways, what the hell’s the point in the damn first place?  I can’t presume to know because I’ve never had a child myself, and I suspect that if I did some of my viewpoints might change.  But I can speculate and wonder, and I’ll tell you I often do.

11 thoughts on “DEPRESSION IN AMERICA – What It Feels Like To Be Different Here

  1. The honor is to serve… :)

    Thank you for the long response. It was very interesting and says a great deal about how far you’ve come since the initial posting.

    As always your writing is deep, thoughtful and caring. Just remember each morning to keep smelling the roses (or coffee) and to smile in the mirror each day!

  2. Pingback: LYRICAL GEM NO.4 – It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), Bob Dylan | THE CULTIVATION OF BEAUTY

  3. A couple of lines that really resonated:

    1. “being lonely in the presence of others is far worse than being lonely alone”… ~ You know, it’s funny. I’m older than you, and I’ve always felt this same way, but I’ve never really been able to articulate it like you did in this one sentence. I don’t even think I understood, exactly, that this is what was going on with me… If you look at my “about” page, you’ll see that I list “lonely in a crowd”, but until I read this line of yours, I don’t think I ever really processed, mentally, the difference I experience between living my loneliness alone and living it in front of others…, and why living it in front of others (in a crowd) is always so uncomfortable for me.

    – And –

    “I just feel like such a child, I feel so much younger than I’m supposed to be”…
    That’s a hugely vulnerable, honest, and, thus, brave and powerful statement to make. Most people would never admit such a thing… I too experience this, and getting older doesn’t seem to cure it. But, I’ll tell you something: This may be a characteristic of yours (and mine) that creates a vulnerability that translates into writing and other forms of expression that really touch people in real and deep places. Most people in our society, it seems, are so concerned with being on-guard and always playing like they’ve gotten it all together, that when someone comes along who doesn’t wear their masks, it totally unnerves them, but often in a good way. There’s no one more honest or freely expressive and able to disarm someone than a child… So, maybe don’t think of this as a bad thing. It’s taken me a long time not to, and I still struggle with it, but I think I’m becoming more and more okay with it.

    Really good stuff! Again, those lines of deep insight that really stick out in your writing…! ~ Bill

    • Hi ;0) Thank you for your kind comments. I’m so glad you left them because this is exactly why I write…to make sure I do what I can to let other people who feel these difficult things, to know that they are not alone.

      I think “the good” have been on the DL in our society for a long while, beaten down since before I was born for sure, and that’s a difficult concept to live with if you are or want to be part of that group. But I think we’re on the upswing now – I’m sorry, I cannot remember at the moment whether I have posted and/or if so, whether you have commented on this…but have you heard of the album “The Heist” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis? Listening to that album upon finding it this past spring was, I think, the first time I felt not so alone in all these concepts. You seem to like music, I don’t know if you like rap necessarily, but it’s a very very different kind of “rap”, so maybe give it a try. I wonder if you wouldn’t find that too.

      And about your comment that “there’s no one more honest or freely expressive and able to disarm…than a child,” wow…so very true. I didn’t think about that the way you put it until now, and I think you’re totally correct in your thought that it’s not such a bad thing to be like a child in that way. Great observation.

      And then lastly, I love Jeff Buckley. That video you posted of that girl was phenomenal. What a singer she is!! Just incredible!

      • I really like what you said in reply to kmabarrett below: “All I know is that now, I want what is meant to be more than what I think I want at any given particular time in life. I know that I am not all-knowing and not able to see much of what is going on in any given picture,”. That’s really great insight, and not an insight that’s easy for someone like me to accept and live by…; but I know there’s real truth within it.

        Glad you like the Kimbra song (cover of Jeff Buckley). There is another Kimbra post on my blog as well: http://ghostinthewalls.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/kimbra-withdraw/ ..and the way I feel at the end of that song (“Withdraw”)… Wow. It’s mesmerizing to me. The lyrics and the way she let’s her emotions get into it… Kimbra has some really commercial / radio-pop-like things out there that are good, but I really like her live performances the best. She’s just amazing.

        I do LOVE music. I’m a guitarist. Rap is a bit of a stretch for me, honestly. I did look-up “Macklemore and Ryan Lewis”, and The Heist is available, the whole album, on YouTube. I listened to a bit of it… I would probably do better reading their lyrics, and will look-em up.

        Hope you’re having a great day (or evening). ~ Bill

        • Yeah someone just actually told me about her and I had forgotten but now I will look her up, and I have to look at that poem still you sent me too. And I know what you mean about the rap thing, though this is really different, I wouldn’t even yet know how to describe it. Try to the song “Same Love” or my personal favorite off the album, “Make the Money”. It’s good stuff, even if just the lyrics. Well in fact, I posted the lyrics from that last one here, just the beginning of the song though…

          https://thecultivationofbeauty.com/about-me/why-i-write/

          Hope you’re having a great day as well ;0)

  4. But re-reading this now, what truth do you find (still) in the words? Is it (are they) still you? Do you still feel this way about many / all of these things? Has the new day blossomed a different flower?

    As for me, kids have been a blessing which makes the longs days at work seem worth it. My joy – my pride, really – is seeing they have had more opportunities than I had. Whether their lives are “better” for it or not, who is to say, but they seem to be growing up into nice, educated people who care about others and that is pretty much all I ever hoped for them to be. Everything else will be a bonus!

    • Hi! Great question. Thank you. These kind of inquiries are awesome because they really get me thinking about my material in new ways, which I find to be productive. I see this as a thought prompt, which I appreciate. So thank you ;0)

      Alright, this is a big question so I’ll tackle it generally and then let me know if you have any more inquiries as to specific parts of the writing.

      Whew, okay…here we go:

      As it relates to my high school boyfriend and his death, see:

      https://thecultivationofbeauty.com/?s=david&submit=Search

      I think in this particular piece, I was still just at the very beginning of the grieving process. It took years to get “over” that, or move on from the immense initial pain of it, or however you want to “put” it. I think now, I don’t feel so agitated by it or so hurt by it, his death I mean, and the loose ends that were never tied up. Took a long time though to get through.

      I was hesitant to put the “carbon copies” part in this piece that I published on my blog, because I was afraid people would be offended by it. But I don’t think I really meant the comment entirely as is, which I was hoping people would see, but more so as a rebuttal to those who I believed at the time may have judged me for my particular beliefs. Now, I don’t care nearly as much about what other people generally would say; mostly just about what a select small group of people (i.e. my family and closest friends who I can trust) would say. But of course, I am always open to thought prompts from other people that puzzle me or intrigue me. I have my own mind, I know I can make it up whichever way that I want. I think it’s more important to understand one’s own logic behind his or her beliefs than it is to judge other people for their beliefs. I think judgement is a defense mechanism to blind others from looking at one’s true self. It’s a distraction. Just like I judge others in this paragraph, it doesn’t really mean anything much more than that necessarily.

      I am still puzzled at how one might explain to a child the differences in the socio-economic stratus. I have no idea how I would do that, still, but I think it would be easier now to do than it would have been when I wrote this piece – reason being, I am not hurting anymore nearly as much as I was then about the consequences that the American socio-economic structure had rendered upon me. Still pops up and bites me from time to time, but I’ve had a lot of therapy in between now and then, so I think I have much more effective thought processes through which I can manage the pain now. It’s difficult though still, I think, to be bitten by pain and not have effective tools through which it can be managed.

      I do think now that many factors contribute to “making the world go round”, but I’m still pretty sure love is one of the biggest and most influential. What all is entailed in the word and/or meaning “love” though, is up in the air. That’s another big inquiry for a different post and response ;0)

      Hmm…what else? I do think I still struggle with living a life outside of the “norm” (i.e. for me, now, having more money saved by now, a husband, babies, house, etc.). It’s hard to watch other people get the things you too, thought you were going to get to have. But I think I’d say now, I know that the Universe has some kind of plan for me, and it usually turns out way more hideous if I try to take over the planning and do it myself.

      I think now, I either am okay with the way things are and that things will be the way and happen the way they are meant to be and happen, or I am working towards that if not quite there to begin with. I’ve found it to be difficult to let go and let the Universal Powers (God, or whatever you want to call it) determine what happens to me next. But mostly I think that’s just a fear of the unknown, and I’m more okay with that now than I used to be, I think because I’m more used to the idea that I just have a different future than most people are meant to have. I couldn’t tell you what that “future” is obviously because it hasn’t happened yet and I do not know. All I know is that now, I want what is meant to be more than what I think I want at any given particular time in life.

      I know that I am not all-knowing and not able to see much of what is going on in any given picture, and I think I’ve spent enough time putting good back into the world up till now, that if I continue on with it, the Universe will protect me and return that good to me somehow whenever I need it. Mostly in the form of giving me strength through meaning, I think. It helps me to get through the dark times to keep that in mind.

      I think I feel the same about the misunderstanding of suicide. Again, just a judgmental thing going on there. People pretending to know what they do not know. I hate when people do that. I think it’s a sign of strength to accept that we are not all-knowing beings, and to acknowledge that we all screw up sometimes, even if we do hold certain ideals to which we would like to rise – see the following posts for more information:

      Last two paragraphs of – https://thecultivationofbeauty.com/2013/05/23/re-settling-the-incandescence-of-truth/

      -and-

      https://thecultivationofbeauty.com/2013/07/08/on-the-search-for-light-finding-the-truth-in-humanity/

      Still wondering about the concept of “depth” inquiry, though I’m pretty sure I was on to something here…and I’m pretty sure there’s not necessarily one answer to the question either. But I’m pretty sure I was on to something here…

      I think the anger that’s coming out in the “Later” section of this piece is my frustration with others’ and my own misunderstandings about mental illness. I still think it’s a relatively new topic that much more research needs to be done on, and that it’s only natural for someone who lives with such a misunderstood concept and who is consequently judged meaninglessly for it, to be angry about that judgment he or she is receiving. Today, I understand from the therapy much more about my “disorder” and how it affects me and how it affects others, so I think this concept is a little easier to handle than it was back then. It’s still incredibly frustrating though, I’m not going to lie.

      And lastly, about children…

      This has to do with an incredibly complicated concept ingrained in American society and perhaps elsewhere too, I do not know, but especially here. I think the issues we have going on here sociologically have much to do with the kind of parenting going on in our society. I think much of the parenting going on here is egocentric and self-centered, on one’s self rather than on one’s children. I believe there are parents like yourself, who invest in their children and their children’s futures and care more about others and about giving back than they do about money. However, I think for a large percentage of the parental population here, the focus is not where it necessarily should be (i.e. mostly on one’s children rather than one’s self).

      I look at parenting as a responsibility that one accepts when they decide to have a baby (or adopt one) to which they will need to parent. I believe that it is a choice, and that it should be a choice, because the consequences of having unwanted children brought into this world are far too great, and greatly far-reaching, than any consequence otherwise. But that gets into abortion and timing of abortion and all that, which is also another topic for another day (but to be clear, I believe it should be done early term if it is going to be done at all, and I believe in birth control to prevent abortion in the first place).

      From everything I’ve read on your blog and all of your caring comments you’ve so generously left for me on mine, I gather that you are an incredibly caring parent. I just wish all or even just most of the parents here cared as you do. And I wish our society didn’t impose so many barriers on parents in terms of “being there” emotionally for their kids. I think bad things happen when people have children to whom they do not pay attention. Granted, I think parenting would be and is the most difficult job in the Universe, but that’s just all the more reason why it should be a carefully considered choice. Not something forced upon oneself by mistake or any other means.

      Blah blah blah, I could go on forever about this stuff, but I do hope this answers your question generally. Do let me know if there’s any specific part I missed, and I’ll respond to that too.

      And one more time, thank you again for the inquiry. It’s provided a great opportunity to think about my present position and how far I’ve come. In terms of the intangible, I think it can be very easy to forget or ignore the progress that has been made, so it’s incredible important to keep a close eye on what is going on beneath the surface. Your prompt helped me do just that, for which I am greatly appreciative ;0)

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