“We’ve been clutching so desperately to the past, and for what?” “Because that’s when there was hope.” This is one of the most impressionable quotes I’ve heard. It is both sullen and truthful at the same time. I once believed that the further we moved away from childhood the sadder we became as we experienced losses and heartaches. And I guess this quote validated my belief.
Oftentimes the words spoken by others can have a lingering impact on us. I remember someone once describing life to me by saying that an individual life holds very little meaning and is merely a series of moments and fleeting memories strung together to grant the deception of meaning in our limited existence.
And while at one time I may have been inclined to agree, I, however optimistically, now choose to believe that the human spirit is in a state of unrest until it can defy this notion. And the ultimate weapon of it’s defiance is hope – hope that one day we can experience and express love in all it’s shapes, sizes and measure. For love is what transcends and transforms us from mere biology to almost mythological status. It is in it’s expression and connection that we can begin to craft a true understanding of our existence and how we relate to others and the universe.
Whether we have merely glimpsed it, experienced a near-lifetime of it or have had hope for it – we’ve all felt the connected feeling that love generates within us. The defining moments of our lives are dictated by it’s presence and even lack thereof. Love is the ultimate expression of hope.
So why am I sharing this belief with you?
In my twenties I suffered from several bouts of depression. During these times I deconstructed life down to it’s bare essentials – it’s what an over-actively pensive person like myself would do. The danger was that I did it through the lens of depression. And what I had discovered, at that time, was startling because I could no longer link my head and my heart. I couldn’t allow those fleeting moments and memories to be filtered by an emotional association. And as such, the joys of life eluded me.
It was this inability to express hope that had crippled me into feeling near catatonia. And the worst part about it was that when in this state I simply didn’t want it to get better – I in fact, counterintuitively, wanted it to get worse. Depression’s greatest weapon in it’s arsenal is complacency. And what could be worse than being complacent in your own life?
Depression is perhaps the loneliest feeling anyone can experience. It’s an isolating, terrible tormentor, not only from an internal standpoint, but also because there are so many taboos created by a larger society that doesn’t understand it. It is hard to gain compassion from people who have never experienced this predator stalking them day in and day out. So it’s hard to imagine yourself having the tools to combat it.
But even when you are feeling at your worse, hope still has a way of seeping in. As Dumbledore wisely put it in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light.” Sometimes it’s just a matter of shifting your perspective long enough to see the silver lining.
While I am not naive enough to believe that all forms of depression can be solved by a simple act of sheer will, I do feel that there are times when forms of self-therapy can help you achieve a better state of being. And for me that self-therapy comes from writing. It is my way of processing my emotions and assigning my struggles to characters who aren’t required to outwardly express content and could instead dwell in their negativity.
Writing, for me, is a truly cathartic process. For all the struggles and despair I felt while being depressed, I have to attribute some positivity to it as it has allowed me to create something incredibly personal that I am truly proud of – even if it has only been shared with a select few. Not only can I find reprieve from my own creativity, but through the creative works of others. Sometimes there’s a song, or a character in a book or movie, or even a quote that strikes a cord with me.
As I was filling some downtime today I actually stumbled across a quote from a movie that I felt truly summed up the human experience and inspired me to feel less alone, even now as I am in a healthier state of mind. It read “Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime and every kindness we birth our future.”
This eloquent phrase really captured what it is to be human and inspires hope and connectedness. In contrast to my introduction, it reminds us that we have a responsibility to our loved ones, and them to us, to employ hope in our daily lives because we are truly co-dependent upon one another in our endeavour to create an existence that is both meaningful and content.
It has been years since I’ve experienced a depressive episode. Partially because I have found ways of coping by reflecting on what I have achieved through creative expression, but also because I have opened myself up to accepting a close-knit group of amazing friends. It has allowed me to avoid indulging in the negativity and instead focus on the positivity. And because of this, I feel as though I am a much stronger person than I once was. My human spirit continues to persevere as it reminds itself that I have been able to change my own outlook on life by simply allowing hope to plant it’s seed and take root from within.