In our sleep we are plentiful, released at least in part from sordid conformity, whereas by day we wear the grey mantel of inhibition as if somehow it gives moral superiority. -Penny Rimbaud
What is suicidal depression? I have always thought of suicidal depression as a state of depression that induces suicide. But ironically enough, suicidal depression rarely leads to the actual act of suicide.
So then if suicidal depression does not lead to suicide what is suicidal depression? Is it a state of living with the continual feeling of wanting to commit suicide but never actually committing suicide? Is suicidal depression a completely dark and barren state of being?
I was thinking about this on my morning bike ride. I was wondering if I could be suffering from a state of suicidal depression.
Lets investigate this most difficult state of emotional and psychological being.
Assuming that I am and have been experiencing a continual and long-lasting state of suicidal depression, what does that mean? As an existentialist, it is my responsibility to understand these things.
I love life. I certainly do not want to kill myself. I would never go through with the actual act of suicide. I don’t think (a person always has the potential to be surprised by what they are capable of). It is true that I think of it often. I visualize it. I am aware that just this is a dangerously unhealthy mental state. But it has been my mental state for as long as I can recall.
Why am I often visualizing my own suicide? It is probably a way that I fantasize about liberating myself from this deep and often existential pain. Just like I will fantasize about having sex with a woman when I am feeling horny, I fantasize about suicide when I am feeling depressed. But this I believe is such a small part of what suicidal depression really is.
A person who is suicidally depressed is living life in a suicidal way. What does it mean to live life suicidally? Does it means to always take risks? To live with excess? This could be a form of living suicidally, often done when a person is young and reckless.
But most people who are suicidally depressed do not do the above things. They are the opposite of reckless in many ways. Instead, they have become much too safe and secure. They have become so safe and secure that these states cause them to not care about anything. They have the time, possibly, to reflect too much.
I do not know what the cause of suicidal depression is. Maybe it is caused by too much self-reflection. I presume it has something to do with a bad relationship with one or both parents while growing up. I also presume it has something to do with feeling lonely, with not feeling like one fits in anywhere. A person who is suicidally depressed usually lacks friends and a community of people with any vitality. A suicidally depressed person has retreated deep within themselves and as a result pushes others away.
I have always wanted to publicly protest the idea that humans are social creatures and that we need to socialize with other like-minded humans in order to feel well in our lives. I have wanted to prove or argue for the virtues of being alone. I have wanted to believe that we do not need others to make us feel well. We should be able to find or derive this sense of well-being and satisfaction on our own. But man can not live on bread alone.
Although I think it is true that we can (and should) find well-being on our own and through our own intellectual, spiritual and/or artistic pursuits, I also think there is a fundamental part missing. Suicidal depression can be birthed out of this missing part.
I am afraid to admit that we humans are indeed social creatures. I know there will be many who are disappointed in me for admitting this. Our well-being is more dependent on the immediate world around us than I would like to admit. Human beings need to feel connected with the surrounding geography of where they live. They also need to feel connected with the surrounding sociology where they live. There is some fundamental part of our humanness that I assume grew out of being in a tribe.
In the same way that humans need some amount of alone time, we also need engaging and vital time with others and with the land around where we live. After all, vital time spent with others is what creates culture. And culture is religion. Religion is a particular belief system by which a group of people live. A group of people watching a punk rock show together may share a similar belief system and as a result have a religious experience. It does not have to be churchy or gody to be considered religion.
The suicidally depressed person has no culture. As a result they have no religion. They are truly alone in the universe. They are in exile. They exist in a state of complete isolation, even when around others all day long. It is actually the being around others but not feeling a vital social connection with them that can turn loneliness into suicidal depression.
So what have we learned thus far? Suicidal depression is not a state of depression that leads one to commit suicide. It can lead to this but more often than not it does not. Instead a person’s life becomes like one long and slow dragged out suicide. They have lost interest in most things. They have stopped caring about things to and extent. They have pushed others away. In terms of being social creatures who need a vital community connection they have found themselves in a position of defeat and as a result they feel suicidally depressed.
So the essence of suicidal depression could be a general state of apathy (this does not mean that the individual does not feel other intense emotions). The suicidally depressed person is completely stuck in a particular situation in their life and an appropriate response towards being stuck or trapped eventually becomes apathy. Apathetic towards life in general.
The suicidally depressed person does not stop working. They do not stop taking care of themselves or doing the things they need to do to survive. But they don’t do much more than that because often times there is not much more they can do. They are stuck. Sometimes they are trapped. The best they can do is often make and sustain a comfortable cage for themselves.
I do think that suicidal depression is quick on the rise. The daily exposure to social media gives rise to a state of suicidal depression. Magazines used to make people feel bad about their own lives but social media is much more pervasive in a person’s life than magazines ever were.
Suicidal depression is a very serious issue. Why? Because it keeps an individual moving in a direction of degeneration, atrophy and defeat. These are strong forces for a person to struggle against. They will make everything more difficult than need be. This is why the suicidally depressed person could benefit from psychiatric medication or the continual use of low or medium levels of marijuana throughout the morning, noon and night (in the night one can be a bit more excessive with their marijuana use). These medicines can help to lessen the feeling and symptoms of depression.
How does a person remedy suicidal depression? I presume that a great escape would be needed. A grand escape from their current life. They would need to find themselves a more optimal social, cultural and environmental situation. Possibly they can discover this where they currently live but most likely they would not be dealing with suicidal depression if they lived in an environment which possessed optimal social, cultural, sexual, environmental and spiritual conditions.
But this may not be true. I am reminded of Mark Rothko who was a suicidal depressive. From my perspective he had all of the above conditions. He was a very successful painter. He lived in New York City. But still he was suicidally depressed. So there is not one easy answer to the problem of suicidal depression. It does have a lot to do with a person’s childhood experience I suppose. But I also think it is a fundamental risk a person takes when spending too much time alone. As I said, as human beings we need vital social interactions. Mark Rothko spent much time alone lost in the isolation of his own head. Maybe this is what caused his suicidal depression.
So maybe I too spend much too much time alone and as a result and suicidally depressed. I feel no connection with the surrounding culture or geography where I live. I have no friends nor do I really want any. But is this really true? No, sure I would like friends but they would need to be like-minded. Where am I going to meet a like minded middle-aged man like me around where I live? The chances are slim. I am not willing to make friends just for the sake of making friends. Most people do this and the result can be devastating. Without a like-minded and vital connection to another person an individual just ends up feeling more lonely even when with others.
So what is one to do about suicidal depression? It is difficult to escape when one is stuck. I suppose that all a suicidally depressed person can do, at a fundamental level, is realize that they are indeed suicidally depressed. That their life has become very lonely and a fair amount of apathy about things has overtaken them.
And then meditate. Or reflect. Or realize that we all have burdens to bear in this life. Some people’s burdens are just heavier and that is ok. Learn to live with your suicidal depression even if it hurts. Maybe some day it will be gone. Maybe it will never go away. But for now, you or I are suicidal depressed. It comes and goes depending upon certain conditions but it is always there, deep beneath the superficial surface of things.. So that is the situation we are in now. Ok. So be it.
Lets move on to other things now.