Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Dispelling Deep Dark Depression

‘They’ say depression can be more a matter of chemistry than it might be in the mind. How truly awful for those so afflicted. Is life really just a matter of ‘what you eat, you are’? We can attempt to think our way into a new threshold, but if the body will not follow, and the mind will not accept, then we can but rail, rail against the loss of the comfort-zone. Despite ‘choice,’ tradition and acculturation envelopes us. Throughout history we’ve bemoaned ‘change.’ Great swaths of time have proved severe, horrid, and entirely unacceptable. In the rear-view mirror it can all be seen as very dreadful, if not in the window upon the future outlook from within our present times too.

We are ‘victims’ of the times. Awful circumstances can envelope us, enfold us. Yet quite often, rewarding times can enrich us too. It’s at the ‘crossing of the threshold’ that we can determine our viewpoints. In the sense of paradigm shifts needing the dissolution, the degeneration, or the fragmentation of the old, before the new paradigm asserts itself, one may find the insecure anxiety of awaiting the certainty of the new, to be disarming, indeed. Like stepping from the jetty onto the rocking boat; like feeling blindly for the unseen rung below one’s foot; like hoping in the dark that one’s stretched-out fingers may click on the light-switch. What does the future foretell?

That’s what happens to Adam, the protagonist of ADMISSION, A Story Born of Africa. Twice, in the dark, he feels for the light switch, the same switch, in the generator-machine shed. The first time, when he is four, it ends in humor. The second time, when he is eleven, it ends in death. But for Adam the ongoing challenges of his life never culminate in depression; he is too determined to keep journeying toward a future that is of his own making. To choose! In his life, each obstacle is something, at the very least, to be outwaited, since he knows down deep that circumstances keep changing, as long as he looks for, or awaits, the time to make his choices.

Helpless, we may not always leap the chasms between what was, and what we foresee; and therein, in that very uncertainty, can lie our debilitating fear. If life were more assured, we may more easily go into the ‘good night’ of old age. Not all of it ought to need to be a raging-rage against the dying of the light. Not every future is dismal. Not every ‘progress’ is detrimental.

Thing is, depression itself can arise out of traumatic experiences. But not necessarily. Post trauma (as we know the syndrome,) is usually the result of some awful experience. But not all depression needs one’s own direct physical experience; our mental apprehension can be quite sufficient. The little girl, seeing and hearing her mummy get bitten by the bee, may register inordinate anxiety over bees the rest of her life. The boy, seeing and hearing his dad panic over the snake in their path, may never overcome such built-in fear. Indeed, some of our problem is that many fears are deeply subconscious. And then again, sometimes we know precisely why we fear, are anxious, or get depressed. Life has taught us ‘a sadness.’ We feel that we cannot change our external circumstances, let alone ourselves. We do, indeed, fear for the future!

Indignities can attend our aging and bone-aching cage. Hurt digs at our heartsore of personal losses. Anger rises at those who do not, will not, cannot alter the seemingly clear and imminent foreclosure on our earth. The dismal outlook for our children; the earth’s bulging and unchecked masses; the shrinking biodiversity; the soiled ocean; the gritty air; and the painfully inherent actuality that we no longer shall be able to protect and contribute and give succor to those we love, closely, much less the populace and the fauna and flora at large, all of it, is a future bleak and uncertain and horrid in the foreseeing. Mindfulness, chemistry, feelings, choices; where does one draw a line? ‘God give me the grace to change what I can, and to accept the things I cannot’?

Then again, if ‘choice’ be the elixir of life, then by breathing, now for now, and feeling grateful for each breath, we may find ourselves a passage of rite; a depression perhaps given light; right? 


  1. That's quite depressing, Mr. P., although I'm sure you didn't intent it that way.

  2. Ha! Thanks, Justin. "Not all of it ought to need to be a raging-rage against the dying of the light. Not every future is dismal. Not every ‘progress’ is detrimental." And indeed, "feeling grateful for every breath."


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