The banality hole in life

As some people may be aware, I suffer from depression and when I say suffer from depression I don’t really mean suffer. Sure it sucks, but I’ve dealt with it for long enough to know how to manage it – the lows drag any motivation out of you and you have no desire to do anything, because no matter what you do you get no enjoyment from it. However, it isn’t always like that, so I can just tell myself to stick through it and they’ll be some good times ahead – even if I don’t believe it at the time. The other thing that is really infuriating abot being low is that I hate myself for being so weak. People say that it is neurochemistry etc. but I can’t help thinking I’m just being a lazy shit that needs to start contributing to society instead of sponging up resources.

During my last dive, I thought about all the things that usually matter and excite me. Things that make life worth living – I have grand plans for a business, I want to contribute to AI research, I want to play/make computer games, not to mention the personal relationships in my life. I didn’t feel anything for them when I was low, there was no point behind any of them, or indeed any point to life that I could reason myself to believe*. The strange thing is, that if I really really think about it while I’m reasonable happy I can’t see any flaw in my logic.

I grew up around Catholicism, I went to a catholic school, but no matter how much I really want to believe all their stories, I couldn’t. The same goes for any other religion that requires you to believe in Gods, spirits, or other supernatural phenomenon. It would be like someone telling me that red is actually blue but we just can’t see it as blue**. Sure, you could take their word for it, but what would the point be?

I did all the scientific subjects: biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics. Plus they make you do religious studies at the school I went to, which caused a nice juxtaposition between the sciences and religion. I don’t like to boast, but I was one of the top students at school – or so people convinced me by saying I should get Dux ( I didn’t, because I slacked off in 7th form ). So what I’m trying to say is that I really understood (and still understand) those subjects, and through that understanding I realised there was no reason to believe in abstract concepts like God. Nothing in evidence or my experience requires me to make up some fictional being that has absolute power but chooses to let the world to be fucked up. If anything, such a being should be scorned.

Despite all this, I believe human psychology has evolved to be amenicable to religious belief. In the past we didn’t have much of an understanding of reality, there were so many physical effects that we didn’t understand. It was easy to believe in supernatural beings and mystical forces. Perhaps religion united a tribe, and thus conferred them a survival advantage? They’ve even related a part of brain (the “god spot”) to religious experience – so I’ve often wondered if my depression is a result my lack of religious belief which in turn gives an imbalance in brain activity.

I think that if society and schools are going to teach children science and just how much the universe is indifferent to you, then they should also teach them how cope with living in that universe and how to find or develop personal meaning for their existance. Something to fill the void of where the “god spot” was now that it is fortified against faith in non-existant beings.

* Now, I’ll say right now that I am fine – I’m not in danger of harming myself, I’m just analysing my thought processes when I’m in this state. The point of this post is not to worry anyone :P.

** I’d appreciate it if people who are chromists can refrain from using some weird formulas to prove that this is true, it was just an example damnit.


#1   Leticia Tenorio on 08.07.06 at 5:05 pm

every day i wake up, looking at tne mirrow and find the same hole in my soul that doesn’t seem to dissapear, nor religion or science gives me faith.

I´m mexican, i really enjoy your post

#2   Joel on 08.07.06 at 5:18 pm

glad you enjoyed it!

things can seem really bleak at times, and without something give life meaning it can get pretty tough.

#3   fairy princess on 08.08.06 at 3:59 am

I think that was very brave :-). I find that when I am feeling depressed it helps to find bliss in the little things in life (like sunsets etc.), and to just enjoy living as a whole, and being alive.

#4   Joel on 08.08.06 at 5:12 pm

Thanks 🙂

I used to hide my depression, but now it is just part of me. Unfortunately depression makes the little things in life mean nothing at the time, but they are good for keeping me happy when I already am!

#5   pdf23ds on 08.28.06 at 5:23 am

I used to be seriously, majorly depressed. It’s been a long time since that’s been the case, though. Much of it was probably changing circumstances (getting out of school, getting my own apartment and a good job,) but I think a big part of it was also learning how to not feel guilty about my own shortcomings. Accept yourself for where you are–learn how accepting yourself doesn’t mean not wanting to improve. Learn how to be critical to yourself without feeling guilty.

It helps to depersonalize things. Let go of the notion that you’re 100% responsible for all your actions and attitudes. So much of that is really out of your control–brain chemistry. Things you can sometimes manipulate indirectly, and should try to learn how to. But don’t blame yourself for depression, or for demotivation, or for having a bad day or week or even month. Those things just happen sometimes. Your part is only to figure out how to make them happen less often, how to tune the machine.

It helped my depression. Now I have a more healthy relationship with depression–I just get it mildly and occasionally for a day or two when I’ve been backsliding on being productive/responsible/caring for myself, or when I’m falling into a rut. It motivates me to grow a little bit, and I do, and it goes away. I can’t claim to have caused my old depression to go away, but I think the guilt thing does help.

#6   Joel on 08.28.06 at 5:54 am

Hey Chris,

Thanks for the comment.

Although I logically understand what you say, it is difficult for me to truly believe that I am not responsible. Obviously my existance is based on my physical self and it’s limitations which I have little control over, but then if I believe my self motivation is purely physical then my mind will let apathy win.

However, I often feel particularly motivated after being depressed. I feel like I have to make up on lost time and get lots done. So in some ways guilt motivates me, and in more ways than one, since there are things in my past that I haven’t forgiven myself for. I guess I’m afraid of mediocrety and that if I stop feeling guilty then I won’t achieve anything. Ironically guilt and depression probably prevents me from achieving as much as I could!

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