“Billy’s Balloon”; ‘Don Hertzfeldt’
“The theory of learned helplessness was then extended to human behavior, providing a model for explaining depression, a state characterized by a lack of affect and feeling. Depressed people became that way because they learned to be helpless. Depressed people learned that whatever they did, is futile. During the course of their lives, depressed people apparently learned that they have no control.”
“Learned Helplessness“, Duen Hsi Yen (1998)
[print this out and nail it to your wall]
“Although we experience the world in bits and pieces, the sequence in which we experience them flows together and we feel the world around us in a continuous panorama. When we try to communicate about it, we have to break it down into bits and pieces. Perhaps a large part of our trouble starts there.”
“Communications: The Transfer of Meaning”, Don Fabun (1968)
Our Depressions are not always caused by… depressing stuff. Most of our depressions are caused by the Disease. They may feel hopeless, they may feel unrecoverable they may even feel real, but they’re not — there are no reasons necessary for us to be depressed. You have to tell yourself they will not last forever, it will stop, you will get better. You can take away a lot of their power by simply repeating “this isn’t real, this level of depression is totally unwarranted for the situation”… or just “fuck off”.
To prevent them from happening or, at the very least, to decrease their intensity you must use your moments of lucidity to seek and find help. That means finding a professional. If you live in a region where it’s difficult or impossible to just walk into a psychiatrists office and get an appointment — which is pretty much every region — there are always local governmental or non-governmental mental health offices where you can get started in the system.
Even in recovery and receiving treatment, we will continue to have depressions forced on us by the disease. I’m three years into my recovery and I had one just a few months ago, but three years ago I was having ten of them before breakfast. Even this late into a recovery the rare depressive episode can act as a trigger to a “why bother” moment where discarding the pills, or dropping out of treatment, or even considering suicide will seem like options out of a misguided belief the treatments aren’t working if you’re still getting depressed.
Thinking, believing nothing will get better and nothing good will ever happen to you is not new, and it’s not surprising to feel that way. When we look backwards and see nothing but failure and look forward and see nothing but… well, nothing, those depressing visualizations are part of the learned behaviour forced on us by the disease. You’ve been sitting around for twenty years visualizing your death, the death of your friends, your pets, your God, your plants, the poor and devastated people in Rwanda/Somalia/Iraq/Northern China/Finland… well, fuck, try thinking about things you’ve succeeded in. That brunette with the killer smile and little tits you totally banged five freaking times in one day, the diploma, getting to the store last night just before it closed.
Listen, no one really sits around dreaming about their future but because we sit around planning our death for so long we assume dreaming about their futures is something people without the disease do, then we get depressed because when we start our recovery Dreams Of The Future aren’t granted to us by the Get Well Fairy. We have to move one day at a time, this is a long process and we have to concentrate on each step. Just because the journey’s slow doesn’t mean it’s not happening or not worth taking.
And now, a dick joke: my dick is so big, it was overthrown by a military coup. It’s now known as the Democratic Republic of My Dick. I love that one. This one’s pretty good as well: My dick is so big, it has its own dick. And even my dick’s dick is bigger than your dick.
*Some or all of this may have been stolen from a response I left on Experimental Chimps blog sometime around 2am, August 31, 2007. But, in my defence, I was totally hammered on 2% milk and imitation crab meat.