A week or two ago I wrote & posted an item called “Lonely & Terrified: Just Another ‘Bozo on the Bus.’”
I’ve been through a zillion or two moods since then; yes, old mercurial me. I thought it was just teen-agers & women going through menopause who were supposed to be so darn moody. So what’s my excuse?
I’m not even going to try & offer one – I’m not sure there is one. The world is in the state it’s in. My moods seem to be fluctuating more wildly (& often) than they used to. Maybe climate change & our increasingly unpredictable weather patterns are affecting our moods…who knows? That doesn’t seem all that farfetched an idea to me…
It is what it is, hmm?
Life seems to be very, very challenging these days. I know I cannot be alone in observing so – after all, a rising per centage of the population is said to be “clinically depressed,” & more & more of us all the time are on anti-depressants.
The May 2008 issue of the CCPA Monitor (newsletter of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) had an article by clinical psychologist Bruce E. Levine called “Depression is becoming epidemic in consumer societies.”(1) In it, Levine (author of Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic) states that it is the nature of our society – a society focused on bigness & consumerism & technology – that is causing us to feel lonely & resentful, let down & depressed.
For most of human history, we human beings lived in small social groupings in which we enjoyed a sense of community. For most of us these days, this is not the case.
We are lonely & isolated – so, so many of us. Our jobs seem meaningless & we are surrounded by reports that the sky is falling, more or less. (I’m one of the messengers about the falling sky, of course! But I’m also a messenger about what we can do about it!)
As it happens, I’m probably better than most at warding off loneliness, terror & despair.
I use simple things like singing, listening to music, hanging out with friends, doing work that makes me feel empowered (i.e., work that may not pay in dollars, but more in terms of challenges & satisfaction; volunteer work, often), reading, writing & daily walking (Paul Dudley White, a physician who apparently lived from 1886-1973, said “A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” I think he was onto something!!)
But it is becoming more & more challenging lately, I find, to keep the demons at bay.
I’m so glad I’ve become a fan of writers Eckhart Tolle & Pema Chödrön, who help me see the value of living “in the moment.” Pema Chödrön in particular also helps me “get” that feeling my emotions/feelings (as opposed to trying to “stuff” them & pretend they’re not happening) is the quickest way to actually let them pass through.
I don’t push down the scary demons – I say “Hello!” I recognize them – & a few of the more challenging ones seem to have become more frequent visitors of late.
I also know that our moods really come & go. As Leonard Cohen sang in his song “That Don’t Make it Junk,” “I don’t trust my inner feelings; inner feelings come and go.”
Psychologist/writer Bruce Levine’s article from that CCPA Monitor is certainly well worth reading, as regards depression & loneliness. (Actually, that whole issue is pretty much of a mindblower!?)
I very much endorse Levine’s comment in “Depression is becoming epidemic in consumer societies” that getting involved in social activism is “one of the best long-term antidotes to depression.” Since we don’t always live in close communities any more, we have to create ways of forming community. Social activism is certainly one great way to do this; I can attest to this big-time, as a now 20-year environmental activist. I can find a community easily & quickly, now, wherever I go. Just become involved with environmental work (& more recently, also work that is focused on local food) & bingo! Almost instant community… (& such fine people I wind up encountering & making friends with!?!?!?)
Let’s face it – we know what things make us the happiest. It all has to do with the people we care about. Relationships.
Well – I guess I’m going to have to keep doing my best to follow my own good advice, hmm??? I don’t really want to have to keep writing blog entries about being lonely &/or terrified &/or near despair – so I’ll have to work even harder at helping build community.
On the other hand, I do think it’s important to keep on being honest. It seems to me that’s definitely one of those things that matters…
p.s. The phrase “This too will pass” is one of the very helpful Eckhart Tolle phrases. He didn’t invent the saying, but for sure he emphasizes its truth in his teachings. It is a most helpful thought indeed, so often…
p.p.s. That May 2008 issue of the CCPA Monitor has another article in it by Bruce E. Levine, called “As profits from mental illness grow, we see more of it.” Also very interesting & quite enlightening. You can read it here
p.p.p.s. There is a very interesting blog post by Levine, entitled “Why I Don’t Disease Depression” here…
p.s. # 4 - on Jan. 25/11. Massive oversight in this post; so sorry!! I ought to have linked to 'Despair & Empowerment.' The work of Joanna Macy & John Seed on this topic is a treasure!! Quite essential to know about in these days when despair is probably all too rampant...
p.s. # 5: The post about antidepressants may also be of interest....
(1) I did try to find the article on-line so I could provide a link for it here; no luck, unfortunately. This Bruce E. Levine is one very interesting dude on the subject of depression; Google him!