When you live with depression & anxiety you’ll look for affirmation anywhere.
When you’re living with depression affirmation becomes really important. In fact it’s possible that you’ll begin to be controlled by it. Worship it. Cling to it’s mystical power and influence over your existence.
What a lot of people don’t realise while they’re doing life with depression is that it’s power is defined by negative absolutes. Bad stuff happens therefore I must be bad. I made a mistake therefore I must be useless. I was wrong therefore I must be incompetent.
Anyone familiar with existentialist philosophy will understand that at it’s core is the concept that choices determine who or what you are. If you behave in a cruel manner you’re cruel. If you behave in a gentle manner you’re gentle. You can choose to be either cruel or gentle and, because that choice exists, we must therefore have no predetermined essence. (It’s the ultimate in nurture over nature, which is becoming increasingly discredited.)
Because existentialism is a relatively modern philosophy it’s been firmly embedded in the way we have done life since the Second World War. So in our post modern world, when you live with depression it’s too easy to become convinced that your poor choices in life have determined you to be useless. That you must accept your fate because that’s what you chose.
Unfortunately, existentialism releases context to an esoteric benign state that it seems, cannot be reemployed to divert fundamental and perhaps misguided “truths”.
Are you still with me?
The point is, that for the most part, human consciousness exists outside it’s ability to make choices and determine outcomes. Existentialism’s presupposition; that the individual is a sole participant in it’s own universe, is flawed. In reality, we are increasingly drawn to social interactions to provide context to our existence.
When you live with depression, the search for context becomes a quest that cannot be fulfilled due simply to the number of contextual combinations that exist. As a consequence, and in the absence of a better or more satisfying “reality”, we become an unwitting victim to the default setting we are born with; we are the dictator of our own universe. A universe in which the existence of failure (regardless of magnitude or context) is the determining factor in our self-awareness. Success may be evident, however because we require affirmation of our current position; depressed; we are stuck with the existentialist lie that attempts to apply responsibility in matters over which we may have no effective control.
Fundamentally, depression is a biochemical malfunction that can be easily explained. What seems much harder to come to terms with are the philosophical concepts at the core of a culture looking for an explanation of it’s existence.
When you’re depressed, it’s the overwhelming desire to create certainty from uncertainty that has us clinging hopefully to the misperception that we have universal control over who we are. But perhaps, if given the opportunity to apply context, we might find a whole new us in the understanding that our choices do not in fact determine what or who we are but what we have to deal with.
From someone who knows how to make mistakes, Robert Downey Jr. The lesson is that you can still make mistakes and be forgiven.
Deb Shugg is an awarded business woman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor. If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)