Depression and Writing

My relationship with negativity is one delineated by boundaries. If given ample time and space, the negativity will accumulate like clouds saturating with dense water content before a storm. The negativity inserts itself in my head like a growing tumor, that will continue growing and endangering the host’s health until equal and opposite action is taken.

The darkness that consumes my mind at these times I would liken to an electrical blackout where items like my lamp, light switch, toothbrush that were once located easily and within arm’s reach, are now a challenge to find. The home and refuge of my mind, has now become a scary place, I don’t know what I will see around every corner.

I let myself stew in these periods of utter hopelessness and detachment. Rumination is the enemy for me. Free time will turn against me. A lack of utility will send me into a depression fast. An overly analytical mind has been a mostly a curse. Not a “blessing and a curse” as the adage or cliche goes.

A dog kept in a backyard chained up to a fence will lead an unhappy life. A dog with access to 3 large platters of pasta and sauce will devour all of it until he is sick and regurgitate it, not learning his lesson in the successive 10 times. The dog’s owner can impede his limitless consumption. A dog running free on an estate or a farm is content and immersed in a physical flow. I try to extend my contemplation of life, centering on the random, unforgiving nature of reality and the utter aloneness of a soul at birth and death and the fate of the entity of consciousness after death, until I can no longer stomach it.

I am like the irresponsible dog owner who keeps his dog chained up to a fence all day and lets the dog eat as much as he wants without limiting it. The remedy is strenuous physical activity and socializing. But the contemplation of the universe is always calling out to me, to attempt to digest the enormous mystery of creation, life and death. My feeling is a mixture of awe and wonderment and a “what is the point of it all?” existential gloom devoid of hope.

I have spent many hours and days thinking about the men from my high school, and my town, who went to war and gave their lives for something they believed was noble and brave. Did they live their lives to the fullest potential and reach maximum utility by sacrificing their life for others? I wonder if there is a meeting of our maker at death and if he would distinguish between an American soldier KIA (Killed in Action), and a ISIS fighter who joined believing he was doing the most honorable thing to serve his community. Is a short 25 year life worth a lasting legacy of glory? These men never thought that far ahead, they only thought, I need to step up and defend my country. To act, the noblest of duties. To have an opinion and to write that opinion is something below an “act”.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again.”

-Theodore Roosevelt 26th President of the United States

I err in believing that contemplation and compulsive writing, on its own, can lead me anywhere good. I have found writing to be satisfying insomuch as it is a nuanced medium of communication. It allows a person to see I am not just a shy, aloof person who lacks depth, but I question its merit as a moral good in the world. Writing is craftsmanship. I consider myself a vessel through which ideas flow from the collective unconscious (Carl Jung’s concept) and I mold them into words and sentences. I sit behind a screen, and present an edited, polished version of my thoughts. Opinions can be expressed and inspiration can be felt through writing but there is no substitute for face to face deeds. There is long list of dysfunctional and alcoholic writers to evidence the seemingly inadequate rewards of being a successful writer.

The tangled webs and intricately woven highways of cognition in these author’s heads propel them to convert ideas into coherent sentences on a page. Many spend their whole life trying to extract their thoughts and put them into writing works and find it is a never ending process of necessary yet futile catharsis.

Namely J.D. Salinger, a paranoid recluse who thought drinking his own piss could lead to deeper insight into his practice as a Buddhist. Catcher in the Rye is a classic. The novel’s popularity is buoyed by the relatable snapshot of the adolescent stage of life and the spirited, bratty response to any threat of structure thrust upon the protagonist. Any person reading it could summon the character’s attitude and apply it to their fears, frustrations, and anger at the status quo. Salinger derided most of the characters in the book as “phonies”. Marc David Chapman was holding a copy of the book when he shot John Lennon. He later explained that the reason for the murder was that Lennon was a “phony.”

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