For someone like me, who does not believe in the immortality of the soul, the concept of death has always been somewhat disturbing; And so few things are able to sadden me more than to hear about someone who tried to commit suicide.
The experience of depression is nevertheless rather familiar to me: a terrifying and chronic loss of pleasure or disposal to do anything. You feel like an inanimate being, like a puppet or something.
This serious psychological condition is caused by the unconformity between our instinctive/primitive minds and our rational/social minds; By the demands of contemporary society for human efficiency and multitasking, which causes chemical damages to our brain and obstructs the contact between conscious and subconscious; And also by our inability to give meaning to life through the natural capabilities of human thought.
For anyone out there who also relate to these conditions at some level or another, here are some things that made me find my way out:
- Never suppress your emotions. Art (including poetry, abstract painting and rhythmless music) usually is the best way of “consciously entering into the void”. Make them only to yourself, never show your works to anyone. They’re meant to be understood by you, and you only. Talent is never truly required.
- You know those movies and books you didn’t want to read because you knew they were sad? Read them anyway. Then think about why they make you sad, and think and think and think more. You have to overcome your fears, not ignore them. You have to make some kind of rational analysis of the human anguish.
- Constantly looking at your clock won’t make the bus come faster. Learn to appreciate the waiting times. Just breathe slowly, and count the time for each breath using your heartbeats.
- It’s harmful for the brain to listen to music while doing several other things on your computer. And it’s very harmful for the brain to watch television while eating.
- Reading some Freud and/or Carl Jung might be helpful. Studying psychology is important to attenuate the barrier between conscious and subconscious, and also to understand the origin of depression and anxiety.
- Everytime you wake up, make an effort to remember all the dreams you had. We usually have seven dreams per night or more, but we cannot remember most of them because we get dristacted with things like the breakfast or the sunlight. With practice, you will be able to remember more each day. Start writing your dreams in a notebook, so you can always remember them; and then try to figure out for yourself what your dreams mean. (Theoretically, every dream has some sort of meaning.) Don’t ever trust any website or book: Each human being has his own personal subconscious symbology.
- Learn musical theory, reading, perception and composition; And spend at least one hour everyday listening to music, without doing anything else. Just lay down on the floor, staring at the ceiling, and listen carefully to every note, and think about how they are combined. Classical music is especially recommended. (Consider this an exercise of patience.)
- I actually stopped playing any sort of game (from Mario Kart to chess), because I noticed they were stressing me out. Only sports were allowed. Basketball is my favourite.
(Yes, I know … But it’s totally worth the effort.)
- Zen Buddhism and Taoism are the best source of texts about overcoming suffering. You don’t need to believe in the religious things, just the philosophical parts.
- Existentialist philosophy (not to be confused with nihilism) also helped me, especially the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre and Friedrich Nietzsche. At first sight, they may sound quite depressive. But actually, the point is precisely trying to accept the weight of human existence (that we’ve been constantly trying to ignore) and to see how can we take advantage of that. Rember always: problems that we think we don’t have are worst than the problems we know we have.
Well, I’m just saying what worked for me. You know: results may vary.
And when depression start to get really serious, don’t hesitate to seek advice from a neurologist, and to use pharmaceutical drugs if necessary.