‘When devils will their blackest sins put on,
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows.’
(Othello, Act II, Scene III)
‘When devils will their blackest sins put on,
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows.’
(Othello, Act II, Scene III)
‘The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.’
(King Lear, Act V, Scene III)
Contained within the trillions of nuclei that make myself
Ingredients of sorrow, woe and agony translate themselves
Until they come to define my existence
The remnants of all other states are void
Emptiness then conquers with persistence
All forms of stimulation I avoid
But in that state of numb submission, pacified I am indeed
When lowered to self-worthlessness, one cannot comprehend man’s greed
Men whose being influences billions of other souls
Mistake responsibility for power, and corruption grows
Not only in the mind of the beholder
But spreading thick and fast and sick
Rewarding all of those whose minds grow colder
Exterminating those who might have dared to challenge it
Thus my mind full of emptiness is torturous in this respect
Existence un-deprived and un-oppressed
But still I find myself so inconsolably depressed
There must within my nuclei be other lines of code
Directing other paths down which my happiness has strode.
Why do almost all world ‘leaders’ usually appear devoid of ‘common’ characteristics like expression of emotion, empathy, compassion etc? Is it a prerequisite for a career in politics, or does the choice of life-path drain their souls of these human traits?
They can’t all be depressives, surely!
No, depressives may struggle with expression of certain emotions, but we’ve got them in us, that’s for sure. Maybe it’s the same with powerful figures except a different oppressor on the mind keeps them obscured, such as the unimaginable weight of responsibility, as opposed to the mental illness. Sir Winston Churchill dealt with both of these at a time of World War, which I find utterly astounding, and admirable beyond belief.
I can muster no envy for people with excessive power or responsibilities to other humans, maybe I just fear that the various ‘systems’ of the world will inevitably fail them, and maybe so do the leaders themselves, so avoid excessive rocking of an unstable boat in choppy waters. Speaking of which, there are humans risking their lives and literally dying trying to escape their war-torn homelands. They’re being forced out against their will, into a treacherous journey of many perils which hundreds and hundreds of human beings are not surviving. And some people in their safe and cosy country cottages or council houses want to send them back! Is empathy gradually dying out amongst human souls?! Is it burdensome to have a little compassion?!
A slight diversion from the subject there, but it’s all related really isn’t it? The leaders must display power, wealth, support, determination, etc. as long as they have them, to their people and those of other countries. But with power comes responsibility. If some of the richest countries in the world can’t pull together to help some of the most desperate and oppressed people in the world, what hope is there for mankind? I know Merkel has received much due praise for her compassionate stance on the current crisis, but the growing opposition from other sides to what seems to me, moral, is frightful, don’t you think?
Just a thought, thanks for reading .
In solitary I question who I am
In company I know not who to be
Free will is a fantastical scam
I’ve never found an ounce of it in me
Whoever that may be, or does become
Whatever branch he doesn’t choose en-route
I’m on my shoulders like a loving son
A ride through life is closer to the truth
So if it takes me in or out the way
Up to a peak or further down as feared
I’ll have no regrets or words to say
On where my unique humble life was steered
Whoever I am, or do become
It is beautiful, that I am one.
Free will is a strange notion isn’t it? How we go about our lives feeling like we’re making all of our own decisions, when we often forget whether we’ve done something. Surely we’ve all felt that we’ve been on ‘auto-pilot’ for a time, but to what extent can our brains control us without us thinking about it, or even remembering doing it?
Sam Harris’ excellent, thought provoking book ‘Free Will’ is a great place to start for a scientific angle. Highly Recommended.. Get it here.
Let’s discuss this from all angles and perspectives, remember this is a community so everyone’s input is valued. I’d love to hear different religious or cultural attitudes to ‘free will’ from around the world, so please post your thoughts here and respect each other’s opinions. Debate but don’t attack. Thanks.
Whatever it is, it certainly isn’t free…
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the everlasting had not fix’d
His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on’t! O fie! ’tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
In a way, Hamlet saved my life. When I read Hamlet or see it performed, the extremes of anguish and despair seem to en-cloak my heart in empathy. If you suffer from depression and haven’t seen Hamlet performed on stage, I really can’t recommend it enough. I don’t know if Shakespeare was a depressive, but he was definitely a genius, and he seems to represent depression in words better than anyone else I’ve come across in literature or music. This is from around 413 years ago, and I still wish I could cry like a normal person when I read it. Why don’t people write tragedies any more? Life is so often tragic, the world is just as tragic now as it was then, so why does Hollywood demand optimism? Some European films have come close to tragedy, but nothing quite as sublime as Shakespeare, Marlowe or Webster (my personal favourites). If anyone can recommend me any truly tragic movies, please don’t hesitate.
Anyway, I was going to explain how Shakespeare, and particularly Hamlet saved, or at least changed my life. I’ve tried to write songs off and on for the whole of my depressed adult life. It is nothing other than torture though, when one has such desperation to find words to describe their mind’s life, and cannot gain any confidence in, or satisfaction from what is written. I picked up the Works of Shakespeare for some poetic inspiration. Boy was I inspired, I found impossible brilliance in the Sonnets, and just flicked back a few pages to feed a growing curiosity. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. ‘Oh, I’ve heard of Hamlet’, I thought, ‘I’ll just read the first act and see what it’s like’. I was hooked before Hamlet even appears, but more so after his first words of the play, an under the breath utterance of retort against Claudius’ patronising words: ‘A little more than kin, and less than kind’ (Act I Sc II). Not to mention the following speech to his Mother on his profound grief for his Father’s death. Hamlet’s Mother has the cheek to ask him of his grief ‘why seems it so particular with thee?’, his response is beautiful:
Seems, madam! nay, it is; I know not seems.
‘Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forc’d breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected ‘haviour of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shows of grief,
That can denote me truly: these, indeed, seem;
For they are actions that a man might play:
But I have that within which passeth show;
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
(Act I Scene II)
This brilliance is followed hard upon by the astounding soliloquy quoted briefly above to open this post.Look how I’m being pulled by different threads of thought and inspiration, and not getting to the point, blame the bard. The point is that by the time I had finished reading this sublime tragedy, I knew that I wanted to study English. Now that might not sound like a big deal to you, but to me dear reader, it was a new direction that wasn’t down, and if I hadn’t changed direction I’m not sure how much further I had to fall, so there’s how the play-write may have saved my life. My only disappointment with the English study so far: not enough tragedy. But then again, my mind is tragic enough as it is.
As always, dear reader, your thoughts and responses are welcome and encouraged. Maybe you’ve had a similar epiphany on something completely different, I’d love to hear about it. Thanks for reading.
How well and truly flattered I am to find that people are taking an interest in me and my story. Thanks to those who have visited/followed so far.
I’m nothing special, I realise how many people suffer from mental health problems. But surely the very fact that so many people do without ever broaching the subject in conversation is something which merits discussion? Why the stigma? My friends have known there was something ‘wrong’ with me for years, but a casual acceptance and avoidance of the subject is their approach. All well and good, I know they would be there if I was desperate, but the fact is I would have to tell them or plead for help, which just isn’t me. Anyway, I don’t want to be known amongst my peers for being the one who drags conversation down a muddy trench in which no one is comfortable, why would I? I think I’ve become a pretty good actor from my daily performance of the ‘brave face’, not to mention my mind regurgitating passages from Hamlet into my thoughts on a regular basis. I’d much rather be internally considering ‘whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them’ (Hamlet), than outwardly exercising my right as a friend to be cared for and listened to.
If any of you, dear readers, has a different approach to mental health amongst their peers, I’d love to hear your experience. Here’s a haiku of mine which accepts all of our differences:
Haiku on Being
It seems to me,
Is as subjective,
As not to be,
Any thoughts are always welcome,
My first (last) post left a few essential things unsaid. Consider this an extension of my introduction. One central aim of this blog is to document individual experiences of depression and anxiety, and my efforts to achieve an eventual (ever hopeful!) gradual recovery from my loathing of existence. ‘What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals, and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me, no, nor woman neither’ (Hamlet, Shakespeare).
If I do manage to ‘change my mind’ in a literal and positive sense, it will be the art forms of literature (I’m studying English language and literature), poetry, music, and theatre to which I’m most indebted. To some extent I’ve made some recovery already, I tried to kill myself in 2010 and now I’m glad I didn’t succeed, so that in itself must reflect improvement. I’m by no means cured though, I’ve just managed to gradually improve my situation over time by making changes where I can, and accepting a myriad of flaws. Since I embarked on my second attempt at getting a degree, I’ve started to appreciate the therapeutic value of writing. I have about as much natural motivation as a stone has blood, so I’m theoretically making my own here. Your input, dear reader, could literally change my life. I bet you don’t hear that every day, but there may be some kind of compassionate community in this blogging world which I’ve been missing out on. Discussion of our problems with others really helps us understand ourselves, and I’ve just realised that my mind is taking me off the beaten track again. Anyway I intend to document my poetry and music on here as I go, not in any particular order, just whenever I feel they’re appropriate. Thank you for reading, please do make this a discussion rather than a monologue, I’d value your thoughts over mine.
I’m L, a mental health statistic from Wales. Depression and anxiety are just words, I hope to depict what they actually mean in a sporadic, disorganised stream of mental wanderings and experiences. If I were to organise these in any way, then they wouldn’t represent my mind, which is a cluttered hurricane of thoughts, some of which pass too fleetingly even for myself to catch their drift. Sometimes I might use my poetry to explain things differently, such as now, to let you have a good scratch around the surfaces of my mind:
The Eye of the Storm
Reaching the eye of the storm in my head
Akin to loss of gravity and time
Parameters of such restraining strength
Loosen, lighten, and release my mind
It is only here that I feel free
A limitless expanse of weathered slate
Island refuge from ferocious seas
Frees me from the will to contemplate
The horizon’s dark conspiracies
Its raging ocean storm attenuates
All light before it swallows all my pleas
Colours blackened by the swelling seas
Quick as that world within an atom came
My mind’s eye is flooded once again.
Just to contextualise that somewhat, I wrote that while in the ‘eye’ of a nervous breakdown. I don’t cry often at all, my emotional emptiness won’t allow me, but sometimes there’s really nothing I want to do more. That universal indicator of despair just doesn’t manifest in me, that is until a breakdown. When the floodgate breaks, damn do I know it. I’ve cried so long and hard during a breakdown that my whole body reached a state of complete and utter numbness, with almost soothing waves of a pins and needles-like feeling, and most welcome of all, an absolute stillness of thought. This is the ‘eye of the storm’, and the only time I can ever truly possess a clear head. Trouble is, it never lasts long, and only comes around once in a blue moon (not that I want a breakdown a day). It really is a blissful, meditative state though, just a shame about all the volatility surrounding it. I referred to this state as a ‘world within an atom’ because a clear mind really is another world to me, without all the torturous mental interference and physical constraints of daily life: ‘I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams’ (Hamlet, Shakespeare (1603 ish?)).
Anyway, I don’t want to ramble on too much, this was supposed to be a general introduction to me but as usual I’ve been drawn down a particular thread of thinking by my complicated brain. This blog’s main purpose is to provide an outlet for my thoughts and frustrations, maybe even some positivity every now and then. If you have anything to say on what I’ve written, whether you can relate or not doesn’t matter, the brain is the most complex thing that we know of in the Universe, so does anyone actually entirely understand another person? Trying to understand each other though, on an individual level and on much wider cultural, religious, and political levels, seems as important as it has ever been right now. We are all related, and we must remember that. So let’s try to discuss things on equal terms, listen to each other, no prejudice or judgement. It doesn’t even matter what we talk about, or who’s talking, just that communication breaks down barriers. So as nothing will come of nothing, I’ll see what comes of this.