Friday, November 11, 2011

Hate, Depression, Isolation

The lyrics of my favorite genre, nu metal, are mostly about hate, depression, and isolation. Here I will try to describe what each of these words mean to me.

Hate

I was so far removed from the world. Living inside the prison of my own mind. With my mind turned painfully inwards.

Been hating all this time 
Before I crawled inside
Been hating all the basics of
Everything that I could find

I hated the world, my existence, my disease, my misery, the void—the utter meaninglessness—within, the way everything is so predictable, my friends and family for not understanding and not being able to help, the society for allowing me to suffer so, the human species for our selfish and cruel nature, and everyone and everything that brought me pain.

Oh god, it’s just everything,
It’s everything.

Depression

Why? Wrong question. A hurtful question, even. Why does somebody have cancer, diabetes, a brain tumor? You wouldn’t ask “why do you have that disease” of a victim of these terrible afflictions, would you? No, you would Depression is no different. That’s the first question I’m usually asked. There is a tendency to assume that there is something to be depressed about. This is understandable in the light of the current prevalence of ignorance and misunderstanding about clinical depression. 

“Today, our Nation’s physical health—as a whole—has never been better. Moreover, illnesses of the body once shrouded in fear—such as cancer, epilepsy, and HIV/AIDS to name just a few—increasingly are seen as treatable, survivable, even curable ailments. Yet, despite unprecedented knowledge gained in just the past three decades about the brain and human behavior, mental health is often an afterthought and illnesses of the mind remain shrouded in fear and misunderstanding.”
The first U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health (1999)

Recently the instances of mental illness outnumbered those related to cancer, lung, and heart disease combined. Depression, and mental illness in general, is as at least as much serious as cancer, lung disease, and heart disease. This misunderstanding about mental illness stems largely from the stigma and stereotypes of mental illness patients.

The word “depression” is an inadequate name for a description of severe depression, which has little in common with the “normal” experience.

“For over seventy years, the word [depression] has slithered innocuously through the language like a slug, leaving little trace of its intrinsic malevolence and preventing, by its very insipidity, a general awareness of the horrible intensity of the disease when out of control.”
William Styrone, Darkness Visible

The melancholy. The despair beyond despair. The provisional existence. The cancer of the mind. The invisible darkness. The infinite sadness. These are all but names for the disease whose depth and breadth can only be comprehended through its direct experience. This is a blessing for those who do not have the disease, and a curse for those who do, because nobody can understand the suffering unless they have the disease. William Styron talks about this, too, how the disease–and it really does need to be recognized as a disease–is so incomprehensible, and its nature is out of reach, unattainable to people who don’t have it. The most they could feel, I think, is empathy–perhaps pain at seeing a loved one suffer so much from some unseen darkness.

“It is singularly difficult, for even the most sensitive observer, to picture the inner state, the 'situation' of such patients, for this is almost unimaginably remote from anything he himself has ever known."
Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

The etiology—or the cause—of clinical depression is only a speculation in the medical field. The best current model is the biopsychosocial model. Sometimes there are no apparent causes. I was not unhappy because I was grieving the loss of a loved one, or because college was academic stressful for me, or because I did not have enough support from friends and family, or because I had a traumatic childhood, or because my parents are divorcing, or because I could not adjust to a society that values extroversion and individualism. I was just depressed because there's something about Daniel that is bound to be depressed; which leads me to my next theme.
William Styron says his depression was like the perfect storm in his brain, a “brainstorm”, punctuated by a thunder of self-critical, fearful, despairing thoughts—one clap following another in an endless night. Oppressed by these thoughts, people often become hopeless (extreme hopelessness leads to thinking that suicide is the only option to reach a peace of mindlessness).

Korn - Starting Over

Got to face your fear
Lying on the floor
Screaming into nothing, what the hell am I here for?
So come on and play
Stab me in my heart
So long this time was wasted ripping me apart

We are the hurt inside your head
Lost in the void of what is dead
Constantly twisting things I said
Happiness is boring, need pain instead

It's starting over, starting over
Can't stand it over, God is gonna take me out
My time is over, this time is over
Why is this over? God is gonna take me out

Crawling on the floor
All around this space
Talking to myself
What is this thing I've got to face?
Walking through a door
Has it been a waste?
Going on and on thinking I could find my place

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