Saturday, February 25, 2012

Provisional Existence

When I was depressed I was alive, but being alive was not life in any sense of the word. Viktor E. Frankl, a survivor of the holocaust, in his book 'Man's Search for Meaning', describes the life in the concentration camps as a "provisional existence". Frankl writes that the 'Latin word finis has two meanings: the end or the finish, and a goal to reach. A man who could not see the end of his "provisional existence" was not able to aim at an ultimate goal in life. He ceased living for the future, in contrast to a man in normal life'. Frankl explains that when 'a man ceased living for the future...the whole structure of his inner life changed; and signs of decay set in. When a person loses faith in the future and moves into a provisional existence their lives are doomed. A decline in physical and emotional well-being can be seen in people's refusal to see people, to get dressed, to engage - they lie prostrate, numbed by the pain of it all.
A man who could not see the end of his “provisional existence” was not able to aim at an ultimate goal in life. [...] A man who let himself decline because he could not see any future goal found himself occupied with retrospective thoughts…in robbing the present of it’s reality there lay a certain danger. It became easy to overlook the opportunities to make something positive of camp life, opportunities which really did exist. Often it is just such an exceptionally difficult external situation which gives man the opportunity to grow spiritually beyond himself (transcend) Most men in a concentration camp believed that the real opportunities of life had passed. Yet in reality they had not. (p. 91-92)
Man can only live by looking into the future – sub specie aeternitatis. (p. 94)
Thus, logotherapy.
From my journal 4/14/10 5:17 AM
I remember my psychiatrist, Dr. J., said to me when I said I don't want to rush taking medication: "this is the time for you to make the decision that will shape your life. You can take this drug and get better in six months, go back to school, get your degree, and get a job and a family. I want you to make the right decision." That was on November 11, 2009. I feel like this is where I am right now. It is April 4, 2010. 
Exactly six months later.
From my journal 4/14/10 5:27 AM
God, please just take away the pain. Just knowing that it's there hiding somewhere behind the curtains makes me not want to live. And I want to want to live. I hate being this way. I am so scared at every conscious moment because I realize just how close I am to that state. That state of complete loneliness and hopelessness. It is torture just knowing it's there and that I am at its mercy. It is my abductor who caged me in its basement and comes down frequently to rape me. It is like being in the middle of the pacific ocean at twilight, by yourself, dehydrated and hypothermic (thirsty and cold), with sharks circling around you, with the love of your life gone by being eaten by these sharks, and no hope of anyone finding you. You want to die. But you don't want to want to die. You are scared and hopeless.
When you're depressed you have virtually no coping mechanism (so you need everyone should act completely supportive, neglecting their own needs). Every life challenge you encounter seems insurmountable and menacing. You are unable to deal with anything, and the slightest pressure propels you into a whirlpool of hopelessness.
I'm always in and out of this state. Now I'm more out than in.
I am waiting for the day to come when I will wake up and feel the warmth of the sunshine on my body. When I will feel the joy of living. When I will be free of these merciless thoughts. And that day did come. And when I realized that it did I cried. I did not cry out of happiness or out of relief or out of pity for my past suffering. I cried because I didn't think this day would come. I waited for so long. I cried for all the past suffering, for passing of my lost years. But now I'm found! I feel I was liberated from years of inhumane treatment at the concentration camps. Now I'm free, but now I'm tired from the long road. But there is no time to rest, life doesn't wait. Your responsibilities come knocking in like they were waiting there all along, right by the door, just to barge in when I am finally able to get on my feet.
I feel like all this time was for nothing. "unnecessary" is too light of a word--you wouldn't say "there are people being raped every day unnecessarily". This is an abomination and an embarrassment to the society that failed to respond promptly and properly. It is made even worse by the fact that society stigmatizes those suffering--leaving them to fend helpless for themselves--and condemns those who seek help and those who provide it. It turns a blind eye on the problem, bluntly denying it thereby dooming everybody who falls into the nets of depression, and that is one out of four people. There are one in ten people with clinical depression in any given year. How many people with depression do you know? It's de facto "don't ask don't tell". Each of us is to blame, unless we actively bring this up in conversations and seek out people who need help to let them know you are there for them.
Whatever the case, I like this life so much better that what it used to be.

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