One place has a surplus of food, shelter, comfort, luxuries, entertainment, education, freedom, and mobility; the other place has a lack of clean water, very little food, no time for entertainment, constant war, disease, and oppressive government. Which of the two would you think has the highest levels of depression?
In a day and age where we are given a pill before we are given a diagnosis, it is not hard to believe that depression has become something that is looked at as a disease within itself.
We are given labels that are supposed to help us understand why we feel a certain way, then are forced to live under those labels for the entirety of our lives. It is easier to treat the symptom than it is to dig deeper and find what it is that actually caused it to manifest in the first place.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am in no way writing off depression as a very real and very serious issue; this is however disclaiming the fact that depression is something that you must live with for your entire life, and something that you cannot relieve yourself fromcompletely.
3rd World Sadness 1st World Depression
Maslow’s hierarchy shows the needs of all humans starting from the most basic of them, which include the need for food, sex, and shelter. In 3rd world countries these are needs that have not yet been fully met, these are also problems with simple solutions that are evident to us all. Once these needs have been met, those in these sorts of environments will feel contentment.
In the developed world we have surpassed the first two, if not more, needs and are now in a place where we have much more complex needs such as belonging and a healthy sense of self. Though there is still much poverty in the first world, it still does not compare to those places in the world that live utter lack. For us it is more about fulfilling our sense of self than filling a plate.
Now I’m sure we’ve all heard of the first world problem jokes such as, “my laptops dying, but my chargers in the next room (crying face emoji). These sorts of jokes are all done in good humor and over the top exaggerations, however the sad reality behind them is the fact that there is a hint of truth behind the majority of them.
Though it might not be something as elementary as a closed starbucks, or Chic-Fil-A running out of their famous sauce, there are still many trivialities that we have been taught to view as actual problems.
Granted, there are cases in which we face real life depression that may be caused by situations such as the lost of a loved one, a breakup, abuse, and devastating tragedies such as natural disasters that may leave our lives in ruin.
However, when you truly take the time to think about it you will see that these are all part of the human condition, and therefore are not isolated to the developed world. In actuality we have been better suited to heal, and move on from tragedies when they do strike since we have the resources, and cultural support to get us back on our feet.
So it is still a misnomer as to why there are higher levels of suicide, chronic depression, and overall unhappiness in a place that seems to have it all together.
Aside from the previously mentioned real life problems, the modern western world can be seen as place that has been able to find issues in just about every facet of life; and I am not separate from this .
You can turn on a television at anytime and see some sort of protest going on to either give these people more money, or to take money from them; you can see people shouting to the max of their lung capacity for freedom of speech, while yelling at those who are exercising exactly that.
“I am offended” has become a legitimized problem that is now looked at as being of the same importance as not knowing where ones next meal will come from.
We tweet, Facebook, Instagram, and snapchat about all of the problems we have going on, and how the world we live in today is such a hell hole; yet if we were born just a little under 80 years ago we would have not only faced poverty on a mass scale, but also been faced with a war that consumed the entire worlds resources.
Instead we sit in our heated homes, which a plate of food on our table to our side, and make statuses on how unfortunate we are.
The fact of the matter is we are in a time of peace and prosperity, and with that comes the need for an upgrade, yet we still view our world from the lowest level of human needs. We seem to be trapped in between the need for esteem and belonging, and it is literally killing us.
We continue to search outside of ourselves for problems in our society that need to be fixed, most of which are not problems at all, instead of utilizing that same time and energy to work on our own esteem.
After the first three needs have been met, we reach a place in which there is no obvious solution, or easy fix such as with a need for shelter. You cannot encapsulate the need to connect, have healthy relationships with those around you, achieve, or gain confidence.
What is however encapsulated is the symptoms that spawn from the lack of these very aspects of our lives; Depression.
Looking for Belonging
As trivial as it may seem, one of the greatest causes of the symptom that is depression is the lack of belonging. Whether it be family, friendship, social class, or an intimate relationship we are creatures that need to feel as if we have a place where we fit.
Sadly enough we live in the most technically advance societies in history, yet we are less connected than we have ever been. We search for this connection, and belonging through mediums that cannot give us what it is we are actually looking for, which is a real human connection.
For example, in an age where intimacy is viewed as a momentary pleasure, it is not surprising that we have some of the most depressed dating populations in history. Marriages are shorter lived, and the average young person is involved in more one night stands than committed relationships; something we view as freedom on the surface. Yet this phenomena alone has been the cause of many people’s depression as far as intimacy is considered.
As important as it is to focus on developing self, and loving self first, it is just as important to find true meaningful connections with those around us.
In some countries where there is very little infrastructure and technology it may seem as if they have very little, but in actuality they are surrounded by family, community, and tribe. They also happen to have longer lasting, and richer intimate and none relationships due to the characteristics they find value in such as loyalty, trust, family, and commitment.
Now I’m not saying that these things do not exist in the modern west; what I am alluding too is that our value scale has been slightly tipped, and the aspects of life in which we find the most importance in are now sewed. Our need for online gratification, social media communication, and quench to be seen and heard all comes from the basic need of belonging we just happen to be looking for it in all the wrong places.
When we have the synthetic version of belonging, we cannot help but fall into a state of depression, and self-loathing. We are lost puppies looking for our pack, but the problem is we’re looking for our pack in a virtual world.
Doing Kills Depression
For anybody who has faced a bought of depression I am sure you already know the amount of mobility that comes along with it; you feel as if you are in a place where you cannot do anything at all, or when you do something, it comes at the cost of a melancholy experience. Doing becomes more torture than not doing, and at that stage not doing SUCKS.
The irony of it all is that doing something may actually be the cure for that symptom of depression in most, since the underlying problem may have stemmed from a place of lethargy itself.
Think about it this way, how do you feel every time you tell yourself you are going to stop being lazy, stop procrastinating, get up, get going, and become productive in life; yet when it comes to execution you fell right back into the same place. After the Cheetos, Netflix, and Pepsi high wore off I’m sure you did not feel like much of an achiever.
The human body was man to move, to be productive, and most importantly to create, so it is no wonder as to why doing nothing, and letting our ambition turn into petirfied thoughts, can bring on a sensation of depression.
Whether we want to admit it or not, moving towards our goals and actually executing them brings us a sense of fulfillment and joy that is longer lasting, unlike the high’s that we may get from a drug, or any other type of synthetic intoxicant that excites our dopamine centers.
To have confidence within ourselves is a need, and a need that can only be fulfilled by being productive, and creative. To be respected by those around us in also a need, and this too comes from our ability to contribute to the world around us. This is the same reason that we feel depressed when working at a dead-end job, we do not feel as if we are contributing anything that is worthwhile to the world, therefore we cannot fill gratification from such work.
Once we become more productive than busy or simply DO, instead of sitting in our own self-pity, we will begin to see a drastic change within our lives; we will begin to meet the less basic needs of our human existence.
There is no pill on earth that can get can motivate us into taking action towards those things we aspire for in life, at least no legal once, therefore no pill will ever be able to get rid of the depression that was cause by the lack of physical progress.
If you must look to anybody for clarification of this cure to the cause of depression look to Nike , “Just Do It”.
You Are The Pill
Again, there are many reasons as to why we can get into a slump in life, and some of them may be very real severe reasons; however staying in that place is an actual choice, that could end up being a “death sentence” if we do not act upon it. It may take us some time to figure out what the immediate root of our depression is, but once we have come arrived to a conclusion it is our job to do something about it.
Whether it be creating relationships that are deep and meaningful, falling in love for all the right reasons, or pursing those things we aspire for; it is in our hands to determine whether we live a life of utter disarray, or move into the next stage of enlightenment and contentment.
Blaming the world for our problems, and seeing ourselves as the victim is the same as looking into the face of a starving child and saying “I have it so bad”. Instead we can seek gratitude, and see that we are privileged enough to even worry about fulfilling higher needs than filling our bellies, or covering our heads at night.
We live in the easiest time in human history, yet the fact that our needs are so fluid means that it is more difficult than ever to find out what it is we are in need of to reach a place of solace.
There is no quick fix for anything, no silver bullet that will solve all problems but there is always a solution to our physical, mental, and emotional being. It takes work to find healing, or work towards fulfillment, but the pills will never do what getting to the root of the problem will.
Dig deep within yourself, find the empty places, and fill them with appreciation for the ability to be able to do something about it; and from there on you can begin to find your peace.
Remember to never take on the labels that you are given, even by a white lab coat. You are not depression, you are a human being who just happens to be going through depression. A depression that will make you all the wise, braver, and loving on the other end.
(PS. I will be writing other articles that dig into deeper forms of depression since this one was very surface level; but regardless of the root there is always a cure)