There is a scene in the last episode of the first season of Six Feet Under that asks an incredibly important question:
Tracy Montrose Blair: Why do people have to die?
Nate Fisher: To make life important. None of us know how long we’ve got. Which is why we have to make each day matter.
I think about this a lot in my more morbid moments, which I have had more of recently.
I have spoken about being depressed somewhat openly because I think it’s important to acknowledge that people get depressed. I think we tend to stigmatize people who don’t conform to what we think of as “normal,” which includes people with depression, the transgendered community, and people who experience things most others do not. I am somewhat dismayed by our society’s uncomfortableness with others having non-normative emotions and experiences.
I saw several amazing talks by Leon Gersing, aka Ruby Buddha. Seriously, if you ever have a chance to see him speak, DO IT!!
In one of his talks, he said he spoke to people about what their goal was in life. Many people told him their goal was to be happy. He laughed at that and said, “Good luck with that! Happiness is an emotion. Happiness is transitory. Happiness only has meaning because you have misery to counter it. If you’re happy all the time, you just feel normal.”
I was at the doctor and I saw this book: “Eeyore, Be Happy”. Eeyore is the perpetually depressed character from Winnie the Pooh. I was rather disturbed by our society’s willingness to ignore his feelings because they make us uncomfortable. We have an idea about how we want people to be and we don’t want to recognize the ugly reality that life is more complicated than we care to believe.
We want Eeyore to be happy because his depression makes us feel bad. We want everyone to be happy. I see similar feelings expressed by introverts who feel like we, as a society, value extroversion so they are supposed to conform to our expectations and feel incredibly uncomfortable with trying to be themselves.
I have spoken to a lot of people who feel that their natural emotions and feelings are seen as deviant and threatening who are incredibly depressed because they feel they are not “normal.” I try to do what I can to assure them that they are not creepy or deviant, but there is only so much I can do.
I have had people approach me about going to see a psychiatrist and getting on anti-depressants to make myself feel “better.”
I respectfully decline to do so.
I do not want to numb my experiences. I am going through a rather traumatic time and I don’t think taking a pill that blunts this experience is the best thing for me. I would rather experience my sadness so that when it alleviates and I feel happy again, it will mean something.
I know our society is uncomfortable with melancholy and sadness. I know we want everyone to feel happy all the time and not talk about our various disappointments and let downs. We don’t want to hear about people’s failures even if they learned far more from a failure than they did from a success. I don’t think that’s healthy. I think for happiness to have meaning, you need something to contrast it to.
I am not saying I don’t think anyone should take anti-depressants. I know if you are thinking of taking your own life that numbness is probably preferable to thinking that there is no point in going on any longer. I am just saying that it is my choice to not take anti-depressants. I am trying to use meditation and mindfulness to deal with my depression. It is my choice to fully embrace and experience my sadness. I want to experience my feelings in my own way and everyone is entitled to choose how they deal with their own lives.
I am bothered by the fact that we have an idea that there is only one way of doing anything. I think there are many ways of doing things and what might work for 100 people might not work for you. You should be able to choose how you experience your life and no one should pressure you to do something you don’t want because it doesn’t fit in with their narrow view of what is “normal.”
I feel incredibly privileged to be in a position where I can live my life the way that I want. I know many people are not so lucky, which is why I am speaking about this. It would probably be safer for me personally not to disclose this information publicly, but I feel that it is important to talk about it because if we ever want anything to change, we need to acknowledge that a problem exists. I am sick of seeing my friends pretend to be someone else because they don’t feel like they themselves are okay. I would like to change that.