Imagine you were offered a pill. Upon swallowing that small, white, round thing, you would cease to feel any of the symptoms of depression or anxiety disorders.
No more insomnia, no more panic, no more suicidal thoughts, no more angst, no more awkwardness, no more feeling isolated, no more feeling like an alien, no more despair.
All of these things would vanish in a matter of minutes, and they would never return. The rate of relapse would be 0%, the pill was that perfect.
Would you take it?
If you have, then you may have just destroyed a large part of yourself in one fell swoop. Seeking a purely medical solution to a spiritual problem, you would have abnegated responsibility to discover yourself, betrayed your soul in a Faustian pact.
Imagine the power it would give the manufacturers of such pills, to dominate others in such a way. Surrendering to them, you would be free from one terrible affliction but, as the saying goes, out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Depression and anxiety can get in the way of ‘life’, but then, what is this life and why should we live it in this way? Insomnia can ruin a work routine, but why would the deepest part of yourself commit such self sabotage? Could it be that the routine itself is the problem, more so than the insomnia?
I see my mental health problems as a quest, an immense riddle, one that cannot be easily sidestepped or shut down. It is useful to sometimes be free from it, distracted or medicated in extreme situations, but only as a break from it, not a total transcendence. As much as I have been on my knees and begged Mephistopheles to take away the anxiety, the vulnerability, the despair, I don’t really mean it.
These dark feelings and deep shadows are there for a reason. If they were not, they would not be there. If you have any degree of sensitivity, you will look upon the world and feel as much of its despair as you do its joy. We are in a troubled time, politically, ecologically, economically, spiritually, you name it. Our systems are failing, and many of us are clinging on to them to the bitter end, for, to use another cliché, better the devil you know.
But there are those of us who, at the very core of our souls, feel absolute revulsion for these broken systems and the price they are exacting on humanity and the world of beasts and plants. This albatross around our necks (there he goes again!) is a necessary one, and is in fact the only real hope of change.
Imagine you were reading a novel, a fantastical one where a hero must overcome herself, confront her deepest demons and strive to discover what is truly inside herself. She may never fully triumph, never fully reach some ‘enlightenment’ or god of healing, but the journey she makes, the heroism of her character, the artfulness of her life, all of these things are inseparable from her. If the hero of the tale simply popped a pill and lost all motivation or drive to self-discovery, then what a terrible tale that would make. It would be trumpeting complacency as the highest virtue.
Complacency is the curse of civilization, for all complacent civilizations are swift to collapse into decadence. The shadow that stalks us, forcing us to evolve, to get better – this is what drives change.
The pill of all-healing would return us to complacency, and thus to the destruction of our true selves. Such ‘light’ cannot exist in our grey world without doing immense harm to the chaotic, beautiful balance we live in. Already people hide from their emotions by wearing the masks of capitalism and individualism. The price the world is paying for this is immense.
I live in my own shadow, a much taller and more powerful version of myself, and I would not magick that looming power away for anything, or anyone.
There is no pill that can take away all of our problems. But there is a change of perception and paradigm we can all make – to see depression and darkness as a sign that something is wrong out there, and thus drive us, when our energy returns to us, to change it.
I am currently reforming, from pure spirit into semi-corporeality. I can feel with highly attuned senses this filling out. The point of wavering, the half-way mark, I have just passed.
It does not mean I will remain this way from now on, only that the cycle is completing itself. Esteem is returning, self-repair units, silent and invisible, are patching things back together in their gradual way; sleep is easy again and I don’t see any gaping holes when I look down.
Self-esteem collapse is something familiar to me. It is a volatile and dangerous state to be in. I feel destructive, drawn to annihilating things people have got for me. It triggers an infinite feedback loop: ‘you need someone, but you are not good enough for anyone’. The friction of these energies causes internal conflict, and drains the soul of its precious resources. In this state I reject others before they do me, and then feel further conflict and guilt for it (despite the fact that it feels right). Everyone is suspect – just because they haven’t abandoned yet, it does not mean they will not. There is a strong element of despair also, things seem inevitable and unchangeable. The only way is to destroy or get away.
I know what it is to be pure spirit, to feel like you have no corporeal form, invisible and insubstantial. To feel like nothing but emotions raging. This is the space where people develop addictions and destroy all that is good in their lives.
I do not understand it, nor how to resolve it. It does seem to go away, or at least recede into the distance. I have started reading on ressentiment, and thankful to the great scholars who have done work on this phenomena. Now that I am returning to the world whole, I can use this opportunity to learn how to break the cycle, or at least delay its return and have longer days of real life.
I am someone who periodically goes though short periods of despair. In these dark moments, I feel hopeless, lost, dependent and incapable. The anxiety is high, insomnia is almost inevitable, there are sometimes thoughts of self-harm, and lots of self-loathing. The way out seems distant, and the light at the other side is no comfort in these horrible moments.
These are uncomfortable and painful feelings. They really make life feel like it is a burden to live. But I am starting to rethink despair.
Despair is not nice, but I feel it can be a drive to positive change. The feelings of hopelessness, whilst unproductive and destructive, do have the flip side of forcing re-evaluation.
We learn through failure. Strength is rising when you fall. Being proven wrong is a necessity to finding what is right.
In order to be a truly ethical and good person, we must evolve and change; for this is the way of nature. This means we need the openness to be challenged, and sometimes to be proven wrong. Being able to lose battles, it seems, is as important to winning them.
Imagine an unconquerable will, that overthrows an oppressor and takes power. What will happen when this all-powerful, immovable force stays in power for too long? What good would that do the people?
I do not advocate feeling despair, at all! It is not exactly a choice. And it is not exactly nic. There are certainly better ways I can go about having the modesty to re-evaluate my life. But despair has been an effective way of doing so thus far; a heavy price to pay for necessary change.
I know that high expectations and a need for instant results feed despair like nothing else. Its very easy to feel like you have failed when ‘not being there yet’ leads to feeling like a total failure. My challenge is to change my pace, accept that I am not there yet, progress slowly, and be patient.
This way I need never feel self-induced despair again, and can change and evolve in a healthier way. Nonetheless, those heavy days of despair were intense bringers of change, they showed my courage in continuing on through it, and I do not feel regret toward such dark emotions.
Since Sunday I was feeling a strong sense of despair. It ended today. I do not feel exactly great, or stable, but I have made some re-evaluations, gained some courage, and change my ways according. For all the hardship and indignity, I feel again that I will get somewhere better, slowly but inevitably.