Ever since we’ve had psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, pharmaceuticals and grandiose illusions of purpose, meaning and happiness, we’ve had stigmatization and violent prejudice toward those who don’t sort nicely into categories of “normal” behavior. We’ve also dehumanized vast swaths of societies in favor of political, ideological, economical or dogmatic ignorance and stupidity.
We live in an era where antidepressants are as ubiquitous as are depression and attention deficits. Granted, there are those souls who are arguably broken and a danger to themselves or others. Entertainment media would have us believe this is much more common than it actually is; we tend to glorify the truly sick. However, in general, I believe that depression, as with many other “mood disorders”, are perfectly normal expressions of an emotional, organic human being. Our rush to diagnose, label, fix or therapize these unacceptable moods and cognitive behaviors abnegates what could very well be a natural, healthy process of deeply personal actualization and discovery. Secondly, our cultural preference is to be productive, and to reap the rewards of social conformity (e.g., celebrity, fame, money, work hard, sacrifice, earn, compete, win) — whether we’re consciously aware of this or not. There would likely be far less depression and social anxiety if we were to take a patient, spiritual and sensible approach to rebirthing a national (or global) identity. Given time, we could indeed be led by our emotionally intelligent sensibilities rather than the stunted, fragmenting paradigms and philosophies of the past.
I’ve lived with my own share of depression and anxiety. It’s a horrible feeling, unworthiness, and there are others that depression can introduce and perpetuate into our space. Fortunately, I’ve used it to fuel artistic and creative endeavors. It doesn’t always work, and there have certainly been some tough times. But I’ve always tried to allow plenty of time and space for self-reflection, to better understand how certain ideas came to be, where beliefs came from, and to slowly, persistently, work through them. I think if we’re too quick to medicate (alcohol, drugs, prescriptions, exercise till we puke, etc.) we lose out on essential flavors of life. I am not an expert, so this isn’t advice. I am always simply trying to connect the dots and to shine a light on things in a way that you maybe haven’t considered before — or, to remind you that everybody has their variety of shit to deal with, and it’s OK to hurt. It’s OK to feel, deeply.
A market system cares only for production, trade and profit. Everything else must in some way service the market. This couldn’t be more obvious in our world today. We’ve been updating and modifying the system to accommodate considerations for ages of wanton waste and destruction of our inherent humanity and our planet, but it’s a far cry from addressing broader systemic failures. The market requires of us a certain cognitive numbness and dissociative, psychologically diminishing complicity. As a result, humans are largely relegated to a functional category parallel in value and importance to that of a personal computer. Could this be a reason why we’re so terrified of the machines taking over? Many of today’s jobs will be automated as soon as it’s possible, yet many new ones will emerge. Robotics and machine learning are advancing rapidly, and it’s clear that many of us fear our utilitarian obsolescence. Perhaps the market system has had its day, and we’re collectively ready for something next-level. However, one can argue that the solution(s) will not arise from those indoctrinated within the existing system. And, quite obviously, there is no singular, immediate systemic fix.
Our Western culture is only in recent generations grasping at the simple, yet profound concepts of silence, self-reflection, meditation, and embracing a broader capacity for authentic identity. We’ve been led astray for centuries by patriarchal constructs awash in materiality, distorted masculinity, domination and competition — not to mention both spiritual and emotional manipulation and suppression. It is interesting how we are seemingly of the desire to slow down in order to reconnect with something of a truer substance, while concurrently progressing exponentially in technological means. There is an apparent disconnect between the complementary capacity of our tools, and our complete dependence upon them.
As a result, some of us want to better ground ourselves, to replenish and regenerate the Earth, or to re-introduce the archaic and ritualistic; to do all we can to avert — or at least survive — the allegedly inevitable collapse of ecologies, economies, governments and empires.
Amidst all of this apparent chaos and insanity, you and I have to contend with our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, choices and chosen behaviors. We have to be willing to explore an extreme vulnerability in order to wade neck-deep in our personality dis-ordering, and to touch and build upon a more solid foundation. We have to somehow process enormous amounts of information, attempting to discern what’s true from the inordinate amount of utter bullshit and propaganda. We have to struggle to make sense of a world that changes by the minute, being artificially propelled toward self-termination by the maleficent few; a world that is hurting. We must do all this while we support ourselves, our families, and attempt to unravel and uncover a meaning to it all.
You are not alone. This is a time of collective transition. It is mad, but it doesn’t have to be an end; it can be an extraordinary beginning. If you need help, ask. If you can be of help, offer it. Empathy, logic, authenticity. Let love lead you.