Friday, December 2, 2011

Life's So Goddamn Fucking Easy


Coming out of depression is exciting--there is so many new things that you can do, and actually enjoy them--enjoy life. But it's also like I have my life to take care of. I feel like I deserve a vacation. But life doesn't wait. There is all these responsibilities to take care of. 
I can finally "stand up and feel the warmth", and it is a feeling of deep happiness and sadness. 
—From my journal, 4/9/10 1:14 AM

When I was depressed, my lifestyle choices—like eating, exercise, and sleep—were supremely healthy—it's the only way that I could keep my head above water. Life was extremely hard, and the mundane tasks took tremendous effort. When I recovered I thought, "I deserve a vacation", and so I just gave in to the current and climbed onto a cozy boat and frivolously and effortlessly floated downstream without a care in the world. So after I recovered, I looked at how careless I was about my lifestyle choices, and I thought, "have I learned nothing from this experience?"

When I was depressed, I thought, "life's so goddamn fucking hard. How does anybody have the strength to handle this pervasive pressure and piercing pain? Why don't more people kill themselves?" In reality, the lives of those who don't have mental illness are extremely easy compared to the challenges that those with mental illness face daily. So, if everyone was depressed like I was, many more would kill themselves. In fact, over one million people worldwide already kill themselves annually, and 10 to 20 million try to.

Even when you are recovered from depression, bipolar, OCD, or whatever other mental illness you have, there is still a risk of relapse that you have to watch out for, because if you don't stop it in its early stages, it will be a train heading your way at speeds. And if you are battling your illness at present time, yo are indeed faced with a challenge most people won't have to face. Your feelings dip and fly out of control from the slightest stresser, your concentration fails you at inopportune times, when you need it most: when you are studying for an exam, reading a book, or listening to a lecture. Your good old friend, your mind, who was there has suddenly caved in and you can no longer rely upon him. You can no longer do the things you used to do with such ease. This is frustrating and demoralizing. You are mad at yourself for not being able to do the basic tasks that other can--that you once could--do so effortlessly.

When I was depressed, there was nothing that I wouldn't give to just have one second of my life now: to be free of the eternal internal torture, the grayness, the misery, the utter loneliness. It is a matter of life and death. More accurately, it is a matter of life and "provisional existence", a term used by Victor E. Frankl to describe the state of the prisoners in the death camps. It isn't life, it isn't death, and it isn't mere existence. It is provisional existence. Knowing that you will in some not too distant future fade away in the abyss. Without a speck of faith for what's in store.

When I was depressed, I was not—and I could not—be thankful for anything in my life. Everything brought me pain. I had no rest from the torture. Now, I am able to be--and I am--thankful for everything in my life. I am thankful that I can take a deep breath and enjoy the air filling my lungs. I am thankful for my car starting up today, I am thankful to live in America, where my civil liberties are protected. I am thankful for my job, which I love. I am thankful that I have the freedom to go outside and walk and be able to choose which way I want to go.

When I was depressed, I seized to be able to do the things I used to be able to do, like study and pay attention in classes. But now that I'm not depressed and able to effortlessly do so many things I wasn't able to do, like concentrate, have resilience to stress, and experience joy, I feel like I have superpowers, and I appreciate these things much more than I used to.

Script from the movie "Awakenings". Leonard, the "awakened" patient, is played by Robert De Niro, and Kaufman is a doctor:
KAUFMAN: 
I'm curious... I can tell this is important to you but I'm not sure why. What would you do if you went out?
LEONARD: 
I'd walk around. I'd talk to people, I'd look at things. I'd decide whether I wanted to go this way, or that way, or keep going straight. I'd do the things you do everyday and take for granted.

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