Depression and anxiety. These two words hold people prisoned in fear. I feel that they have been missed labelled and give the wrong indication of what is actually happening to the conciousness. Before I demonstrate my meaning I want to discuss and question what depression and anxiety really is. First we must accept that no two people feel the effects in the same way and they are varied in intensity. Some may be able to deal quite easily with the conditions while others become hypersensitive to it. The challenge here is to describe emotion, describing the feeling of an emotion can be almost impossible. No matter how close you get to explaining the emotion it still will not give the person listening to the explanation the ability to feel what the person describing is feeling. Even if they did, how could we ever be sure that they would have the same perception of the issue or that they would even derive the same meaning from it. This left me with an idea, regardless of the emotional aspects of depression, regardless of the description of the feeling, there is a core principle and the same for Anxiety.
Many philosophers agree that depression is negative focus towards your past, while anxiety is negative focus towards your future. Both of these manifest as negative focus in the current moment. This however describes nothing more than the cause and effect of these two emotions or states of mind. The aim is to knock yourself out of the negative state of mind. Let us first look at depression. Depression, as I experienced it, numbed me, I was locked in my mind contemplating the outcome of my past. I believed that my past was better than my now. This left me with an unending desire to do nothing, getting out of bed was a struggle because I was certain that my experiences of the day would never be as good as the experiences of my past, so why bother? Anxiety for me was a paralysing fear that prevented me from taking any actions. I would create extraordinarily outrageous outcomes for my actions in my mind before I even had chance to take any action. This would lock me further inside myself preventing me from taking any action due to fear of extreme outcomes. As we can see, both states of mind prevented me from taking any action. Those who do not get out of this state of mind will eventually end up living with both depression and anxiety. Depression will make you focus on the past making you not take action in the future. This leads to an endless worry that the future will never again be as good as the past. Anxiety will make you focus on the future and your inability to take actions, this creates a longing sensation for the past where you were able to take action without paralysing fear. If one does not learn to coexist with depression and anxiety eventually both will become overwhelming.
Both conditions are hard to coexist with, yet hard means far from impossible. Depression and anxiety are conditions that are always apparent, it is their severity that differs. Their severity is governed by the awareness of the feeling these conditions create. It is my belief that all suffer from both conditions to a certain extent at all times, it is not the condition that defines how it feels, it is our perception of the condition that define how we feel. A large amount of depression is cause by getting diagnosed with depression and the same for anxiety. It may have been a question in your mind (“Why do I feel so down?”), yet as soon a you are diagnosed it is enforced onto you as a condition which enforces a perception. The truth is that you have the ability to feel depressed or anxious at any moment in life. Life is hard and life is dangerous, this is a fact that we have dealt with since we were born. It is not the condition that defines us, it is our attitude towards hardship that does. A person who is depressed will feel useless, overwhelmed and disinterested in moving through the hardship. This is also apparent for anxiety, fear of the uncertainty of the outcome of our actions is not a rare issue. Humans worry about the future, they have an unending need to predict and mould the future. We live for the future and forget the moment.
What came first, depression or the diagnosis? Most would say that of course depression came first, as we cannot diagnose what is not there. Well that is both true and not true. No condition can ever be considered “to be there” as it has no physical form. Depression is not a thing, it is a state of mind. This changes the view point we must have on what we call depression. Depression is not a thing, it is a label, it can be ripped off and put back on with another name. But the feelings the victim has and the state of mind that they enter is still very real to them regardless of what the label is. Because depression is a state of mind, it can be shifted and moulded. The mind is always governed by what we believe. If you believe you are depressed then you are. If you believe depression is more than a state of mind then it is. If you believe that anxiety impedes your ability to make choices for the future then it will do. Everything that happens in the mind is based on belief. Belief systems control everything we think. It governs our core understanding of good and evil, right or wrong, love or fear. Depression and anxiety are both based on your core belief systems. Depression is the belief that the current moment is negative compared to the passed that was more positive. This is a common outcome of a breakup. The past was better than the current moment of the breakup. However, if this person shifted their belief system towards, “It ended for a reason, at least it had the opportunity to be, at least I had the good moments and experiences and what I get in the future will be equally as good in the moment in which that will exist. I must not wish the world to be more than what it is, but I will actively work towards the things I want.” This is the thought process that released me from the horrid words of depression and anxiety. It was at this point that I realised that depression and anxiety are just attitudes towards life. Of course some may see this as a cosy little lie I tell myself and that will not change anything. Well to them I say, everything you say is based on your imagination and you belief is based on the experiences you have had, and in regards to the cosy little lie, everything is a cosy lie we tell ourselves to make sense of this crazy little thing call life.
To demonstrate the point made above, consider the battle between Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill. They both had two separate views on what defines a good action. Kant talks about the duty towards moral law, if a man rushed to help a person who was about to fall, but did not manage to catch the person in time, his actioned (according to Kant) are still good as the moral core of his actions were to perform his moral duty to help and in turn do good. Mill however, describes a good action to be one that generates happiness both for one self and for as many others as possible. For example, in this case if the person attempting to help the person falling fails, it can no longer be considered a good action. Instead this is a failed attempt of a good action.
Personally I both agree and disagree with both. Both people are assuming that every person has the same perception of what is good. They leave no individual interpretation to what good is. My perception of a good action is defined by what generates positive energy. This positive energy is translated into happiness, linking into Mill’s view of good actions are equal to the happiness generated. However, Mill would state that if an attempted action of happiness fails, the action can no longer be considered go, even if the intent was to do good. This is where I agree with Kant. I believe that actions can have good intention without having the preferred outcome. A person attempting to help is still connecting more with a person than the person who does nothing. The person falling would witness a person attempting to help and that in return would generate positive energy allowing for a positive social connection between the two people. This in my eyes can still be considered a good action. However this can be negated if the person falling holds animosity towards the person who failed to catch them. This animosity is created when a person wishes reality to be different from what it is. For example, the person that fell has two choices. The first is to accept that the person attempting to help still did more than they had to, and the attempt itself shows good intention. The second is to ignore the attempt all together and focus on the outcome. Here the person falling will ignore the attempt and only focus on the negative outcome leading to negative perception of the attempt to help.
From this I derive that positive reaction will lead to positive action while negative reaction will lead to negative action. In both cases the outcome is defined by the perception and attitude of the victim. The person who failed to help is at the mercy of the victims perception of his actions.
A question that eluded me for a long time was the origin of depression and anxiety, where does it come form? Like any other emotion or reaction to reality, it originates from a moment, an experience of reality. For me it was the moment my mind accepted that my relationship was over, when there were no more excuses that could hide the truth of the reality. Depression would effect me when my mind wished that something that once was still was and anxiety would effect me when my mind was afraid that my future would never be as good as the past I had witnessed. Both however are a contradiction of the truth. The past is a story we tell ourselves based on our own perception of the memory of that moment. Just in the same way that the future is a figment of our imagination based on our own perception of the current moment in relation to our perception of our past moment. In truth, there is only the current moment and that is where our focus should be.
The reason I say that depression and anxiety are unfair labellings of this so called condition, is due to the conditions ability to teach. Depression is a lesson along with anxiety, they are emotional barriers that must be broken through. We spend most of our time suppressing our minds and hiding from the terrifying words of depression and anxiety. We are told that they are negative conditions that need substances in order to be controlled. But what if it is not a condition, what if it is a part of life. We keep enforcing this reality of the terror of these conditions, we see them only for what they are represented to be. Life is full of ups and downs, some experience extreme highs and extreme lows but both fall into the core principle of an experience either creating a positive or negative attitude. The part of the human condition that defines depression and anxiety is simply becoming aware of the reality of life’s highs and lows. We are not depressed, we have woken up. Like anything else in life, depression and anxiety are both lessons that will have an outcome equal to the attitude you have towards it. A Negative attitude will lead to negative outcome while a positive attitude will lead to a positive outcome. Everything has an equal and opposite reaction. Here the equal refers to the attitude state (positive or negative) and the outcome being the equal opposite reaction (this refers to the change from being in depression to getting out of depression). Learning the lesson does not guarantee a positive outcome, the outcome is based on the attitude you have towards the condition.
Do not fear depression, fore you have simply become aware life. In the immortal words of Bob Marley, “Don’t worry, be happy”.