I’ve been feeling like a phony lately. I can’t think of a life that could be more perfect than mine right now; summer in Hawaii, no schedule, I am saturated in love that spans half the globe. Sun, sand, ocean. No real worries, only an uncertain future (along with almost everyone else.) I can finally spend all my time writing, creating, watching movies, eat amazing food, learn new skills. Truly getting to know the incredible people in my life. Endless summer, extended holiday. It really couldn’t get any better (well, maybe if someone dumped a million dollars in my lap so I could continue doing exactly this forever) so why is my brain choosing this time to get so goddamn sad about everything?
How I deal with depression. Depression and death are closely connected in my mind. I read that the thoughts you have on death and the inherent meaninglessness of life when you are depressed are false, but the cruel irony of depression is that those very thoughts will suddenly seem more genuine than any other thought you have had in your life. So at a time when everything seems so incredibly meaningless, when the act of talking or even smiling is soul-draining, you have to find the strength to realize that this is a false reality. Supposedly. Because this sounds like an exercise invented by brainless happy people who can’t come to terms with the fact that their existence is meaningless, right? But the majority has spoken; life is good and worth hanging on to.
First I try to access if I really want to be dead, or if I just want a change in what I’m currently doing. Most of the time there are still things I want to do, like visit Rome and find out how Game of Thrones ends. So then I assume I just feel really sorry for myself. And I start to think about all the people who have more right to feel sorry for themselves than me, which is about 93% of the world’s population, so around 6,5 billion people. I have never been hungry, never experienced a day where I couldn’t pay for my living expenses. I have a family that love and support me unconditionally. I’m highly educated (although, depending on your state of mind, this can be both a curse and a blessing), I’m creative, I’ve traveled a large chunk of the world by age thirty. I have amazing friends whose company I enjoy and they seem to enjoy mine in return. I really, really love my soon-to-be husband and our life together.
Maybe what I call depression is really just laziness? Because there is so much work (not jobs, two separate things) to do in this world and I don’t know where to start.
Sometimes I think it is a stubborn desire for absolute truth. I want to live in a world where people are who they say and inflicting any sort of violence is absurd. I want normalcy to reflect basic, indisputable truths, such as humans need air, water and food to survive, and to compromise fair distribution of any of it is considered the worst of crimes. Right now we are living in an upside down world where the people committing these crimes are practically celebrated for their ‘accomplishments’ because we measure all value in ‘money‘. I think that’s why I have always been so adverse to religion, too. Even as a child the stories didn’t make logical sense to me so I dismissed them as just that – stories. It’s still really difficult for me to understand why people want to structure their life around such old and outdated stories. I also think I grasped upon sustainability so fast because to me it was finally a story, a worldview, that made sense. To use nature as a guide, to live in harmony with all things around us, that seemed logical and natural.
Quote by J.D. Salinger (1951). I think this lingering sadness accompanying life is why Catcher in the Rye still speaks to so many, especially adolescents. We see the inherent phoniness of our lives yet the great majority succumb to it eventually, and happily so. Jobs, stress, mortgage, kids, debt, more stress, sickness, death. Do I believe there will ever be a utopia? No, not really. Humans have too many conflicting desires to ever truly be content 100% of the time. I know in myself that I desire a beautiful house, with a lush garden and lots of animals but at the same time I also desire to travel the world at a moment’s notice, like I have been doing for almost a decade. Will those two desires ever coincide?
Emerging from depression is like fog lifting and suddenly the world has vivid colors again, crisp, clear and in focus. I can’t stop taking pictures of it these days. I wonder how many times some variation of the same sentiments have been written? I understand why so many people hide their sadness and depression because these days in order to be successful you also have to be happy all. the. time. Being sad for no reason is the same as admitting failure, that you somehow are doing life wrong. I think sadness is just as big part of life as happiness. When you really think about it there are just as many reasons to be sad as there is to be happy. Life is fleeting, you will lose the people you love and no one will live the kind of life they want all of the time. That’s exactly why you should be grateful and happy when you have those things. They are precious, rare, and mostly importantly, real. But it is ok to be sad about it sometimes, too.
I learned by reading surfer biographies (Saltwater Buddha, West of Jesus) that life comes in waves. Sometimes you will be up, sometimes the ocean goes flat, and they are both equally important. You need both to create the ride. Around the same time I also came to terms with the fact that the only thing that can truly hurt you is expectations. If you don’t expect anything, you will never be disappointed. This one is hard. It means never expect anyone to be there forever, because they won’t. Everyone dies. But the people who choose to stick around until the end, not because they have to but because they want to, those are the ones that make life worth living.
Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened. If you can manage that I think you have unlocked the secret to life. (I’ll get there, too. Soon.)