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The Characteristics and Real Benefits of Depression
Forget the old ‘wisdoms’; depression, like all other human functions, serves a very useful role in the human experience.
Emotional pain characterizes the depressed condition. Like its physical counterpart, emotional pain is the result of a negative stimuli acting on the individual; like a hand that touches a hot pan and pulls away, the psyche that is hurt by an event indicates a pulling back, a rethinking of one’s actions.
Pain focuses the mind. With it, any other feeling, any other emotion is pushed aside. The object causing one’s pain must be addressed. There is no other option.
Thus, emotional pain, and depression, forces the individual to look at the facets of life, forces one to see past the little pleasures, the illusions and delusions, to see what works and what doesn’t. The psyche will no longer accept little consolations. One must either endure the depressed state or address the object causing the pain.
Of course, human ingenuity has created coping systems to protect against the highly unpleasant feeling of depression. There are three typical responses.
The first response is to fool the self, to delude the self into thinking that nothing is wrong, that everything is alright, and that the depressed state and the emotional pain accompanying is nothing, seasonal, and will pass. While it may serve the person for a while, it is nothing but a temporary patchwork; in a sense, it is like getting a loan to pay a loan. One simply prolongs the inevitable – that one must, at some point, confront the issue and relieve the self of the depressive burden.
The second response is to break against depression, to be crushed by this burden. It is understandable that some emotional weights may be too heavy, the mind unable to carry it by itself, but the advantage of the mind over the body is that it is essentially unlimited. It can do mental acrobatics, little tricks that enables the mind to cope over seemingly insurmountable objects. This is why some people are able to literally laugh at life’s little ‘surprises;’ this phenomenon is more easily observable in conditions where negative events are more common. These people simply learned to cope with the depressive burden, if not with bigger mental muscles, then with better mental fitness.
This second response is the most dangerous of the three; while the first prolongs, the second breeds hopelessness, creates a sense of helplessness. This is a precarious state. Suicide ideation, self harm, or a defeatist attitude may result from this second response. A resort to the first, or better yet, a disciplined move to the third response, must be done.
The third response is to observe the depressive burden with objective eyes; even as one suffers, one maintains a sober look at the environment around oneself, and with the grace of a level head, figures out how to lift the burden, even relieve oneself of it. The object causing the depression has relieved the self of its illusions, of the shields and the walls one erects; what is left intact is the self.
This sounds like a play on words, but words as always retains a close relationship with reality. In this case, it is what it is – the depressive state is nothing but an indicator, it is a lit-up Check Engine light, a slight pang in the stomach, telling the self that something is wrong. It is not the result – it is the precursor to the result.
The human being is a creature that overcomes; it is always good to remember that. A creature that is not meant to coast at the bottom, not meant to wallow in despair. We have risen from the swamps, from the dirt, and now we fly; what can the human not conquer?
The depressed state is an in-between, and the pain it causes should only provide the individual with the fuel to rise, to elevate, to overcome.