When It All Comes Crashing Down

Do you ever have those moments in life where everything seems to come crashing down at once? When both your internal and external world just seem to fail you, and you’re left reeling in the void with nothing to grasp, no frame of reference to center you, and suddenly it seems like you’re free-falling into the pits of despair?

Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know.

I feel that way right now, for a number of reasons, both – as I mentioned above – internal and external. On the personal side, I’m feeling a little let down and disappointed; without going into too much detail, I’d been building myself up for a social event that didn’t turn out the way I expected, and it’s left me feeling depressed and lonely. As I forced myself to put away the drinks and snacks that no one touched, I couldn’t help but wonder what the point of it all is; why people put so much effort into things that others just … just really don’t care that much about.

The same could be said of so many things in my life; I pour my blood, sweat and tears into writing stories that no one reads, and those that do often don’t even like. I slave away at my day job, and wonder at the end of each day who would miss me if I just didn’t show up the next. So often I just exist, day-to-day, and I’m left wondering why I bother.

I feel hurt, and disillusioned. And the stresses pile up on top of that. The other day my son was in a car accident (no major injuries, thank goodness), but the stress of dealing with insurance, and repairs, and quotes … I can’t face it. I have a call to make for this that I’ve been postponing for four days. I don’t know where the money’s going to come from if the insurance doesn’t pay out, or what’s going to happen to our premiums.

And then there’s the world, and everything that’s wrong with it.

I’ve spent this entire past week in a vapid stupor, sleeping most of each day away in bed or on the couch, not getting anything done that I wanted or hoped to. It’s been a week off from work – a vacation that didn’t pan out – and I’ve completely squandered it. I go back to work tomorrow, and I don’t want to do that, either.

I was talking to my wife about it, and she sort of threw her hands up and said she’s done all she can. She tried to tell me I should approach it differently, with a different mindset … which feels like the worst advice you can possibly give someone who’s depressed. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife, but I don’t think she really understands depression – at least, not the kind I suffer from – and thinks it’s all quite selfish. She said that even when she’s been horribly depressed she never stopped being considerate for others, and it helped bring her out of it.

There is no ”coming out of it”. It doesn’t work like that. Depression literally is a mindset. It’s how you think, not something external that afflicts you – not something that can be cured with the right drugs or therapy. The meds help, certainly – but they’re not the answer. For over twenty years I’ve never been able to explain this to her. The only way for me to come out of this depression is for it to run its natural course, and what I need is not help – I don’t need a fix – I need support to weather it. I need empathy, not sympathy, and I need someone to understand that right now, I’m hurting.

Sometimes I wish people could understand. I wish they could realize that what I need is someone to validate me, to say it’s okay to be depressed, it’s okay to get nothing done for a week or two. Someone to tell me that I’m not worth less because I don’t do things. I feel like sometimes my worth is only ever measured in what I’m able to produce – whether for work, or at home, or in my creative endeavors – and if I don’t – or can’t – produce, then I’m essentially worthless.

And it doesn’t help to tell myself these things, because of course I don’t believe myself. I feel like a fraud, full of shit and lazy – a mentality indoctrinated into me from a very young age.

So here I sit, miserable and depressed, with no one around to tell me it’s going to be okay. And at the end of it all, I know I’ll probably be fine, but it doesn’t help to get through it in the moment.

Damn, I hate myself.

I’m Probably Not Going to Do Anything

Once again, the nation is reeling in the wake of a school shooting.

Only we’re not really, because it happened again.

Once again, we send our thoughts and prayers into the ether.

Only it doesn’t quite mean what it used to, because it happened again.

Once again, the left attacks the right for insufficient gun control, and the right attacks the left for not allowing teachers to defend themselves.

Only no one really cares, because it happened again.

And no one pays attention to what matters: children died horrifically violently, and their parents are left with a void in their souls that will never, ever be filled.

How many times have we chanted ’never again’? How many times have we vowed for change – on all sides – only to turn around to see it happen over, and over, and over again. There’s no sadness left; no tears, no fury, no righteous anger at the world that allows this to happen, because it seems that, finally, we’ve just … given up. It won’t change. Children will continue to die in schools, and I predict with 100% certainty that it will happen again before the year is out. Hell, perhaps even before the month is out.

And why am I so certain? Well … probably because I’m not going to do anything about it. I’ll talk about it for a few days, then go back to my life. I’ll read about it in the news for next few weeks, and then it will fade away. Only the families affected will really care for any meaningful amount of time, and if they try to do anything about it, they’ll probably be shut down, targeted, called ’crisis actors’, or even threatened. Only the families will be left with tragedy that you never, ever get over.

Because in this country, we’ve become so incredibly desensitized to it that it outright fails to leave any indelible mark on our collective psyche. The last crisis that I can recall united the nation under mourning was the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 – and that was over twenty years ago. Columbine, Parkland, Sandy Hook, and now Ulvade; what does it day that I had to Google one of those, because I remembered it happening but couldn’t remember where? The Wikipedia entry on school shootings – since 2000 alone – is too long to scroll through. It sanitarily describes where the shootings took place, how many were killed and how many were injured, and a rundown of the events themselves. It’s as distant from the horror of a schoolroom massacre as you can get.

This is my reality. This is what I live with every day, week, month and year. I live with the knowledge that well, it’s just going to happen again, and nothing’s ever going to change, so how can I feel anything about it? How can I be upset, when there is so much upset to go around? I have to protect myself in the only way I know how – by tuning it out and pretending it doesn’t affect me.

Until it happens all over again.

Maybe one day – one day – this country will band together to understand that guns do not belong in the hands of civilians. The fear that has been mongered for centuries around violent crime has led to far-too-accessible access to firearms, and it has led to a wide part of the population believing if they don’t have guns, they’ll be at the mercy of ‘bad guys’ who do.

Well, here’s the thing: I would far rather die, defenseless in my own home, than see my own guns used to murder children. I would rather see a small number of civilian deaths occur, isolated and infrequent, than mass shootings take place every single day. It works in England; it works in France. It works in almost every country in the world.

IT CAN WORK HERE.

Except it won’t. It won’t, because politics and people in power will ensure it can’t. So long as there’s money in fear, we will continue to live in fear; fear of the nameless, unknown perpetrator who might enter our homes (and therefore we need our guns), and subsequently our children will live in fear that they might die in school.

I just can’t anymore.

I give up.

I probably won’t do anything, because right now, it feels like there’s nothing to be done.

It’s sad.

How to Survive in an Increasingly Depressing World

I’ve been (on and off) blogging here for over a decade now, starting when my son, Little Satis, was only seven years old. He’s hardly little now, and going to college this coming fall, and as he’s grown, I’ve seen consciousness and insight develop in him in a way that enlightens me – and depresses me.

Youth has always had its cynicism, it’s bleak worldview and rage against unfairness; think back to your own, whether it be from the 60s, or just this past decade, and you’ll understand, in the popular culture of the day, that youth has always rebelled against the mainstream put forth by our forebears. From hippies to punks, we’ve always said that our parents’ generation was worse than ours, and that we, of course, were going to be different.

How true that change came to be is debatable; every young generation grows up eventually, and whilst some remain dedicated to changing the world, most of us fall victim to the perpetual societal rat race, getting ourselves educated, employed, and, of course, eventually having children of our own, who tell us exactly what we told our parents twenty years before.

So the cycle continues, but what I’ve seen – and learned – from today’s youthful generation is that there is a deeper sense of doom, of futility, than anything I’ve ever known before. When I was young I was depressed; I hated the world and I hated myself, and I wondered at the point of it all. And although I felt at the time that life was pointless, that we were all doomed to suffer and die, it never had quite such a feeling of utter pointlessness to everything – that the world is doomed.

From politics to climate change, today’s new generation believes that it’s already too late; that nothing anyone can do will change the world. The ice caps aren’t melting; they’re already gone. Those in power are dedicated to remaining there, disallowing any new ideas or concepts. I’ve never seen a generation so unable to cope with the world their parents have left them, and it isn’t their fault. We screwed things up. Our inability to change has led to a world where – not in ten generations, not in a hundred years, but nowour children will see the ending of humanity.

And naturally, I wonder what advice I, the perpetuator of this decline, could have to offer my son, and his generation. After all, the hypocrisy is real; I drive a gas-fueled car, I leave the lights on, and I generally go through life without considering the world-ending calamities that he will inevitably have to live through. Perhaps by the time I’m sixty, or seventy, the world will end, but I’ll have had my life by then; he, in his midlife, will have had nothing.

But I believe there is still hope. You see, humans are – have always been – by nature destructive. We’ve destroyed our environment and ourselves since before we were able, as a species, to understand what we were doing. The fate of our planet may quite simply be that one day, there will be no humans left. We may very well kill ourselves off, sooner rather than later. But that is, in and of itself, nothing new to consider; death must always follow life. And to paraphrase Tolkien, it’s what we choose to do with the time we are given that truly matters.

Yes – the nature of the world and the planet we live on is of the utmost importance; without taking into consideration our impact on the world, and on each other, humanity is doomed to failure. But living for the sole sake of survival is, in my mind, an equal failure; it reduces us to animals, put on earth to reproduce and die. Survival doesn’t make us human; just as the longevity of a person’s life doesn’t define who they are, nor does the lifespan of the human race.

No; instead, it is what we do with our time as humans that will, ultimately define us. We are gifted the the ability to choose how we spend our lives, and ultimately, that will be our legacy. We must create more love than hate; we must make more art than war. Perhaps the world is doomed; but we can still choose how to go out.

So I’m just as proud of my son for choosing a music major, over some scientific environmental major; just as proud that he is choosing to make the world a better place through art, as through politics. And who knows? Perhaps humanity isn’t as forsaken as we think, because if enough people create beauty and love, we might find ourselves in a better place for it. Perhaps not the world we wanted, but a world in which we can, nonetheless, thrive.