Avernus

“The descent to Avernus, that is, the road down to hell is of no effort finding your way back is the tricky part”.

Your descent from the domain of order into the domain of chaos can be due to your own actions or actions of others beyond your control. Your descent from the realm of order to chaos, sheer chaos can happen within a matter of seconds if your starting point is your personally designed wasteland.  Your boss tells you, you are laid off.  You assume loyalty, structure and income, as you have faithfully contributed your part, in return you are told you are no longer needed, your contribution is no longer of valued, your worth and your self-worth has diminished to zero. Better yet you assume fidelity and your partner tells you they had an affair. You descended in chaos, you entered hell. Everything you perceived to be true has become false and you no longer know who that person is or what to do.  The world you once have known, is no more.

You don’t know what to do. Your brain however does. It goes into emergency preparation mode.  It stops saving up recourses, as far as I remember, it activates your left and right cortices, your cortisol levels go up, your limbic and motivational systems are disinhibited.  Some people start to sweat for me my teeth chatter and you can’t sleep.

Motivation is a drive or desire that compels you to do something. If you limbic and motivational systems are disinhibited there is no drive or desire and even though you can’t sleep you stay in bed.  Lack of motivation is on part of depression. However there are others, who, in the stage of chaos go in overdrive and do anything and everything at the drop of a hat.  Anything is better then this.  They act without thinking just to be acting and may even become more destructive and dig a deeper hole*.

But what do you do about it? Could this not turn into and endless cycle? How do you break out of it?

*There is a great story about a guy in a hole, which I have to post sometime.

Depression – Current Economy

My friend who gotten me started with the idea of this blog emailed me this morning in response to this blog.  For the purpose of this blog we will call him Doctor Genius.

Doctor Genius wrote:

You are on the right track, writing your blog will help you better understand what you are going thru and why you are depressed. That in turn will help you recover from depression and accept all that life hands to you, both good and bad.   I believe your main problem is that you are a driven person, driven to succeed, driven to prosper.  I believe that is at the root of your depression, and the second issue is the current economy affecting your employment and income.  A driven person in that environment is like a wild tiger in a cage. That tiger will keep pacing the cage looking for a way out. I suspect you are pacing, and seeing no current way out; you are frustrated, leading to being depressed.

Although, I thought of myself more like the gerbil running endlessly in its wheel, his metaphor of the tiger pacing the cage is interesting. It shows the difference in the male / female perceptions of the world it also points to the self-image. There is validity, the pacing, the frustration, the lack of control, lack of purpose. Sending our resumes after resumes and not getting any responses does something to the self-image and self-worth.

My father turned to me one day and said “you have no idea how hard it is to love what I have become”. He suffered from extreme depression in his later years.  His mother, my grandmother, in today’s world would have been diagnosed with clinical depression by the time she was 40. Until my father gotten married and started to interact with his mother-in-law he perceived his mother’s behavior as normal.  As he gotten older and depression took hold of him, he was better equipped in coping with it due to the experience he had, growing up with a mother suffering of depression and later meeting a woman, his mother-in-law, who embraced life with open arms never being discouraged no matter how crappy the deck of cards was that life handed her and she had gotten some crappy cards.

A healthy self-image, a realistic sense of perception and a large array of experience will help a great deal when it comes to depression.

This in itself can be a challenging task even for people who are employed.

Looking at history, Anne Boleyn lost her head because she didn’t give birth to a son.  This is a worry we don’t have in today’s world.  We forget how truly fortunate we are.  As Doctor Genius pointed out, the current economy affecting employment and income is depressing. The walls that have supported us have been knocked out underneath us. Our brain goes into emergency mode. We are ready to do anything and everything at the drop of a hat since we no longer know what to do. The orderly structure has disappeared and all we see is disarray.   Still we want to keep in mind, what unemployment means to the people in the western world, it’s the depletion of our saving and retirement accounts.  In other countries and for our great grandparents maybe even our grandparents unemployment meant malnutrition for some even death.

We have become extremely materialistic but there is nothing material about being, being is an emotional stage, or not?

The Wasteland

 

In order to find the way out of the wasteland you first need to realize that you are there, how you got there and most of all did you structured your world your life as one big desert.

About six or seven years ago my Dad asked me a simple question and following my answer made an insightful comment which I didn’t understand until about two months ago. He asked about my plans for that coming weekend, I stated, I was planning to go into the office. He replied; “you are really making it easy for yourself”. Two months ago during one of my counseling sessions I finally realized what he implied. I was in the wasteland.

I was rather content in my desert happily counting the grains of sand until there was no more. When I lost of my job I moved from the orderly structure into chaos.  The wall, the only wall that supported me, what gave me structure, purpose, meaning was knocked out.

What lurks underneath the surface of depression? There is anger, there is lack of purpose, loss in status, and the list can go on.

Strangely enough if you look around information on depression, the cause and how others deal or better said “how to live a meaningful life” stares us in the face wherever we go.  The bizarre thing is we run to counselors and physiologists for answer maybe because it’s easier. If we read though our history book careful enough we will notice depression isn’t such a modern illness, it is more prevalent in today’s western society because we have more time to think, talk and lament over our limitations, our lack of haves. History books are full victims claimed by depression and we will find the heroes who have overcome and conquered it and walked away with extraordinary accomplishments in spite of their depression and others who died due to their depression.

I think Thomas Wolsey died of depression caused by his loss of status.  Thomas Wolsey defined himself through is position and often rightful so portrayed as the alter rex though after he lost his status and position there was nothing left which made his life worth living.  Evidently on his dead bed Thomas Wolsey stated ruefully; “Had I served my God as diligently as my king, he would not have given me over in my old age”. Frederick the Great suffered of depression to the extent that he carried with him a flask of poison at all time, to put him out of his misery, in light of his depression which probably was caused by his tormented childhood his accomplishments were immense.   We can learn from these historic figures.  We can learn what to do and what not to do.

Not Drawing Attention To “IT”

 

A profound statement from my friend Jane was another reason in the delay of starting this blog. She had been unemployed for two years as well and her unemployment was about to run out as well. I had the feeling she was rather depressed so I emailed her asked her if she would like to meet and talk about it.  Her response was; “correct however I don’t see any sense in talking about it since it would only draw attention to it”.

Jane had a valid point about not wanting to attract more attention to her already hopeless situation.  What good would come of it talking to someone in the same situation?  We would only sit around commiserating. Then again, misery seeks company.

Considering her statement I was wondering if this blog would just draw more attention to my depression and if I ended up doing more harm then good. Even though, my depression is situational* there are times I just want to sit around, feel sorry for myself and be around people who are in a similar situation. However, if you surround yourself with people who agree with you or are in the same situation, you place yourself in the wasteland.  You already know what you know. As unpleasant it may be, surrounding yourself with people who disagree with you will help you see things differently. A difficult task to undergo when depressed.

In order to find your way out of the wasteland and into the Promised Land you need a guide.

*I believe depression comes in many different forms. I labeled mine, situational depression. I believe if I still would be happily employed I would be able to deal better with death of my father and the sudden death of cousins.