5 May 2014

The Damnable Darkness

I meet and on occasions talk earnestly to many young people with significant depression, the true deep and overpowering clinical depression that can have nothing whatever to do with the actual external situation, whether good, bad or middling, and everything to do with just an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and pointlessness and sadness about everything and everyone involved in this mysterious and challenging life.

I am no stranger to that gloom and despondency and despair. When it gets a hold it is like sinking down into the deep darkness that forever lurks below the surface of a reasonable day. Sinking down into that damnable darkness is like being sucked down by a relentless undertow that can swamp all thoughts of purpose, interest and fun.

Through many years I have at times just tolerated the darkness until it eases, or tried psycho-therapeutic intervention from others or the double-edged sword of chemical intervention. They all work, then fail, they work, until the darkness returns. But... it passes too.

I do of course know that faith in some superior benevolence can fight against the darkness, and would not wish to dissuade anyone from enjoying the personal salvation such faith can offer; but while I can accept, or even expect, that great mysteries lie hidden from our feeble awareness I just cannot believe in any of the ludicrous and cosily comforting specifics adhered to by any faith that I have ever heard of. I especially cannot consider the notion of any superior being or beings that care much for us as individuals to be anything other than naive but useful wishful thinking. Useful... if only I could delude myself into believing it. I often wish I could summon up the necessary self-delusion to do so, but I can't.

And so... I am left on my own, or at best in the company of other people who fight the same fight, also alone but alongside me, and all alongside each other. Being alongside each other can help.

And I do have a known route to contentment, or even to happiness, but in the midst of the darkness I can find it a difficult path to get onto and to follow. That path, for me, is to accept that life is pointless, that we mean nothing and that whether we achieve little or a great deal, or something in-between, it all amounts to nothing in the end, especially when the stars burn out, and are gone; but the point in life can just be to try to find some interest, and even fun, in the people and things around us with whom we share this journey on our little planetary carousel spinning on its axis and circling the glorious sun... and to treat each day as a life, forgetting the past and not pondering the future... for whenever I let my own thoughts leave the day and wander forwards or back, that's when problems can begin... the self-indulgent depression and concern.

And the happiness I may find is so fragile because it is built from almost nothing - from a glint of sunshine, a smiling face, the laughter from a momentary joke. The fragility allows it to crumble so easily, but because its structure is so flimsy the happiness is equally easy to rebuild again, from just a glint of sunshine, a smiling face, the laughter of a momentary joke.

So the darkness comes and the darkness goes. That it passes is about all that I can say really, when in the midst of my good times I encounter someone in the midst of their worst. That and trying to persuade them that just trying out a different internal attitude can bring about a transformation of relief without the external circumstances changing at all. That altered attitude can be a very difficult thing to find when smothered by the damnable darkness, but it is worth looking for and it can be found, by just living each moment for a while... then each hour... and each day, until that darkness goes away.

1 comment:

Elephant's Child said...

Snap.
I get knocked down, but I get up again. And again. And again.
I am always horrified at how fast (and easy) the plummet to the depths is, and how very difficult it is to surface again.
And it is the little things which save me. Always. And a black sense of humour helps too.