For Mom…..and all of us. Depression and Suffering

A ramble and exploration, containing some some hard “truths,” this is by NO means a fun essay. Nor is it me claiming that this is the ONLY interpretation, and hard, fast and certain facts.

My Mom died recently.

She was a prisoner of her life. Things happened to her that she could never have anticipated, or explained. Looked at from one perspective none of it was her fault, looked at from another, everything was. As far as we know, none of us ask to be born. But once we are here, we all have to find our way through, we all have to find ways to deal with the many challenges of being on earth.

Life does not come with an instruction manual. What instructions we do get, we get from other humans. Parents, religion, schools, bosses. We do, for the most part what we are told, just as our parents did, just as our priests did, just as our teachers did, just as our bosses did. Our lives are handed down to us, we are told who we are and what to do by other humans….humans who have no idea, other than what others have told them, what to do.

These people can teach us not to make the mistakes thy have made, they tell us not just what TO do, but what not to do. The things they tell us not to do are considered to be mistakes. The things they tell us TO do are thought to lead to successful lives. But of course, success has many and very, very varied definitions. But there are two main ones. Wealth and/or happiness.

Our greatest teachers are supposed to be our parents. In the traditional American life, based on patriarchal traditions of child rearing, we receive most of our life training and instruction, especially in the early years, from our mothers.

My mother was never, in the years that I knew her, happy. Or wealthy. Neither from what I understand, was her mother. Both of them in fact, were lifelong depressives who were in fact miserable and who in fact, spent their lives making other people miserable….before sinking even further into dementia. In remembering Mom, one person who knew her nearly all of her life called her “the Typhoid Mary of Self-Pity.”

If we look around us, at all the other humans, and at the pain and suffering and, frankly, idiocy of other humans….well, really….who the fuck are they to tell us anything. Who are they to define success? Who are they to teach us?

Buddha said, Life Is Suffering.

And boy was he right.

We come unwillingly into this world, blinking and screaming and unaware. We are blank slates. With no memory of a God who loves us, or of lessons learned in past lifetimes, or if we have, no memory of agreeing to come here to work of Karma or consciously embracing Jesus Christ so as to be saved. We are blank slates, blank slates to be written upon by the pain and suffering of a painful and suffering world. We are in fact, MOSTLY taught not how to be ‘successful,’ but how to suffer and be in pain.

Look around at this mess of a world, at the mess that all the humans of the past have made of this gift of a planet. THESE are the people we are supposed to learn from and emulate?

There are pockets of happiness in the world, like Bhutan and some of the Scandinavian countries that rank highest in surveys of such things. There are happy people, relatively. The happiest people I have met in my life, interestingly, were the (economically) poor Mayans in Mexico. When we bought the family we met there their first ever toilet, they were ecstatic. When I asked them how and why they were so happy, they said that it was a choice they made, rather than choosing to suffer. When one of them became unhappy, the rest made it the priority of their life to cheer them up…..lest the disease of unhappiness and suffering spread.

Just as the Bhutanese choose to be happy, just as Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche chooses to be happy.

None of these people are TAUGHT to be unhappy, so it is a much easier choice for them, to choose to be happy.

Which brings us to America. In America, you are not supposed to be happy, unless you are what in the majority of the world would be considered filthy rich.

In America we are taught to strive for wealth and power, we are taught that that is the measure of happiness. We are taught that unless you have all the underpinnings and symbols of the American dream you are not allowed to be happy. We are taught that happiness comes from without, not from within. But at the same time we are taught that unless we appear to be happy, something is wrong with us. We are in fact, taught to be victims.

While most of us are denied what is supposed to make us happy, wealth, if we appear unhappy….or depressed….there is something wrong with us. But at the same time we are taught that we should pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, and that if we don’t, we are failures. We are taught that we are privileged, that we are exceptional. Since we are privileged and exceptional, if we are not happy and successful….there is something wrong with us. If there is something wrong with us, even though we are privileged and exceptional, well it must be somebody else’s fault, that something is, in the eyes of society, wrong with us.

Well….there is something wrong with us. We have been taught the wrong things, to begin with. And we have been taught that natural parts of life like depression, are shameful. Are mental illness. We are taught that unless we live up to an artificial, imposed standard of a faux happiness that does NOT make the people who achieve it truly happy, we should feel shame.

Shame that makes us even more unhappy. Don’t be ashamed of your depression. Instead, research treatments to help you feel better. This article comparing hemp extract vs cbd oil would be the perfect place to start.

But by this impossible standard, we are also taught that if we make alternate choices of happiness we should also be ashamed. Ashamed for not being “normal.” In fact many of us who are raised with the inherent guilt of religion, we are taught that unless we live a particular “normal” way and think particular “normal” thoughts…..we are sinners and are going to hell.

We come into the world as blank slates. And we are, in point of fact, taught to be unhappy.

Because we are taught to try to be something we are not. We humans are part of the earth. We are biological units that the earth has produced. We are subject to all of the cycles and rhythms of the earth. The ONLY difference between us and all of the other biological units is that we have….choice.

Depression is a natural part of being human. It is part of the natural cycle, it happens to all of us. Though some of us are more biologically susceptible to it. Taking the daily 100 cbd oil is one way of reducing the struggle associated with depression.

What matters, what makes the difference, is how we choose to deal with it. My Mom chose, every time, to wrap depression around her like a flag. She might have been a happier person had she just sought the services of somewhere like Psych Company.

Depression comes to us, as does everything, to teach us. It is a cycle. A cycle we have no control over except the control of how we choose to deal with it when it comes. It has a function, that function is to destroy us, destroy our ego, so that we can examine ourselves.

We can embrace it and learn the lessons it brings us and having learned, move on. Accept that destruction, learn its lesson, rebuild our ego embracing the lessons that it has brought. That is painful. But it is part of life. This girl scout cookies review will show you that overcoming poor mental health is possible with a little help from cannabis.

Or we can choose to indulge it, to NOT rebuild our ego, but to let the depression destroy it. We can let the depression tell us that we are worthless and hateful and shameful and unworthy. That is what Mom did….and it destroyed her entire life, and in large measure, the lives of those around her.

The WAY we choose to learn the hard lessons that depression brings us are different for each individual. There is no ‘solution.’ Because there is no problem.

There is only a choice. A choice to go down….and through the depression, or a choice to go down….and NOT go through, to stay sunk. A choice to be happy, which means doing the hard work, the hardest work, of finding what makes US, each individual, happy. And then working hard to achieve that. NOT outside of us, but inside.

Not measuring our happiness by some artificial illusionist standard, but by establishing our own standard. Separate from the expectations of an unhappy society.

I will claim only one fact in this ramble….and that is that WE, each individual, has the power to make the choice to be happy. And that that choice is ALWAYS hard, in fact is specifically the hardest thing we can do on this planet.

But also, the only worthwhile one.

92 comments

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  1. There is beauty to the left of me

    There is beauty to the right of me.

    There is beauty in front of me.

    There is beauty behind me.

    There is beauty above me.

    There is beauty below me.

    I CHOOSE to walk in beauty all of my life.

    Photobucket

    No matter how helpless I may feel at times, lol.

  2. Or seem to minimize or diminish how severe depression can be…

    Yes, there are severe cases where meds and therapy and other “exteme” measures are necessary.

    And in ALL cases, we cannot “do it alone.”

    But by far, the biggest difference is our choice of how to deal with the troubles, whatever they may be, that life brings to us…to teach us.

    • Edger on July 19, 2009 at 20:36

    being the oldest teenager in the world? 😉

    • Joy B. on July 19, 2009 at 20:53

    It looks to me like your mother did something very right in her life – she gave you… you.

  3. with depression and anxiety his whole life and for some reason it has become intensified this last year.

    I hate to admit this but I was always worried I would inherit his same struggles. In a moment last year of being lucid after being rather incoherent  and hospitalized he said to me,”you have a strong personality to protect yourself from being weak like me.” I went to myself….. oh fuck. I knew that he was getting the message from me that I did fear being like him whether I realised it or not. And of course that fear might have also stopped me from exploring other aspects of myself.

  4. Ill try to get back here this evening…

    Lyrics here.

  5. …just no time now!

  6. according to a recent news report, and this article, is up to us.

    Psychologists have recently handed the keys to happiness to the public, but many people cling to gloomy ways out of habit, experts say.

    Polls show Americans are no happier today than they were 50 years ago despite significant increases in prosperity, decreases in crime, cleaner air, larger living quarters and a better overall quality of life.

    So what gives?

    Happiness is 50 percent genetic, says University of Minnesota researcher David Lykken. What you do with the other half of the challenge depends largely on determination, psychologists agree. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

    Some of us, because of our genetics, have to work a little harder at it–especially when life’s circumstances knock us down & trample on us–but it can be done.  Now, will somebody just remind me of that, when I let the circumstances overwhelm me?  😉

    • jamess on July 19, 2009 at 21:51

    Condolences on your Loss, buhdy

    It is never easy to lose a family member,

    it leaves a hole in the fabric of your life,

    that never does quite go away.

    The pain will fade, but the void, never quite does.

    Life is a Choice,

    we struggle, we argue, we strive,

    we contemplate, we choose what to do, each and every day …

    Life is a Journey,

    to some Mountain Top, or distance Valley,

    we’ve yet to discover, or sometimes even yet to imagine.

    Life is a blessing, an opportunity,

    a challenge, a struggle, a melting pot.

    Life is what it is.

    and we are merely players, on its stage for a short while.

    Best to make the most of it,

    while we can still see the path ahead,

    through the forested twilight,

    of the gathering gloom.

    Those trails of life’s lessons, can lead to contentment and happiness,

    if we can endure the recurring struggles,

    and find a path to that distance Mountain top.



    and soak in its Beauty …

    The journey back home, fires the dreams, of the future …

    Dreams of which Life, should be made.

    Condolences and endurance, to you sir, buhdydharma,

    there is always hope … while we still have choice …

    It helps to remember, Life is a Journey, more than a Destination …

    peace.

    • pico on July 19, 2009 at 22:03

    from Slaughterhouse Five:

    If what Billy Pilgrim learned from the Tralfamadorians is true, that we will all live forever, no matter how dead we may sometimes seem to be, I am not overjoyed. Still–if I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I’m grateful that so many of those moments are nice.

    What’s always struck me about this quote is that Vonnegut avoids saying that we have ‘happy’ moments or ‘awesome’ moments or anything to dull the reality that life is, indeed, suffering.  But… so many of those moments are nice, and after a life kicking and screaming and naked, it’s those moments that give us something tangible to hold on to, and say, ya know, I think I kinda liked that part.  

    Making the choice to be happy is hard enough.  Recognizing it when it’s there is even harder.

  7. have a hug (((((  )))))).  It sounds, to me, as though you are letting go of some anger and that is great.  Some people just aren’t wired for parenting, I had one myself.  It is really hard to get over the anger.  I used it to keep me from ever hitting my kid.  It worked and I thank her for that.  When life hands you lemons, make omletts!

    • TMC on July 19, 2009 at 23:03

    I loved her, I just didn’t like her. I took after my dad, who pretty much moved to his own drummer. I am an only child and my mom’s soul purpose in life was to make my life miserable. Since I didn’t let her she was miserable and depressed. She most likely inherited it from her mom who tried to commit suicide several time when my Aunt decided to re-marry. Granny was a toot. I hate to make light of it but it became so routine for Grams to be taken to the hospital to have her stomach pumped and spend time in Bellevue Hospital that I kind of built a defensive wall of dark humor about it. I was a strange kid. Gram died of depression because the doctors even said there was no physical reason for her decline. And my mom didn’t fall to far from that tree. Although mom didn’t die from depression, it was a contributing factor. Mom and her mom were exactly to the day the same age when they died. My mom’s sister, who I’m named after, is now 83 and healthy. Thank the Goddess.

      I get “down” sometimes and I’ve had times when I couldn’t motivate myself but it doesn’t last. Would I call it depression, yes, but it’s mild. I’ve learned to ground myself and take the time to stop  and give myself space.

     The really irony is that at the end of their lives, I took care of both of them.

  8. And I want a name when I lose

    They call Alabama the Crimson Tide

    Call me Deacon Blues

     

  9. to treat each day as completely separate from the day before and laughter, gotta have a good laugh or at least a good chuckle every day.

    Don’t carry over the troubles to the next day. Eventually they pile up and it becomes overwhelming.  

  10. Who is still living.

    He was a complete and utter Republican and Womanizer. he voted for Nixon and Bush twice.

    He was unloved and shuffled around as a kid and had to make his own way in the world and felt that everyone else should have that same opportunity. lol. I had a pretty regimented childhood when he was around. But he left early.

    Then a couple of years ago he fell off of the porch and had to spend weeks in the hospital with a brain injury. He didn’t know any of us. Over time he has regained certain memories like who his children are and some aspects of his old self like his multiple wives and his multiple transgessions against those wives, but not his own childhood memories or great chunks of his late teen and adult life.

    He’s still my same old dad but not my dad with the loss of those memories that formed his outlook on life.

    In 2008 he voted for Obama, he LOVES Obama even. He sends me untold amounts of FWds regarding the good things Obama has done for the world.

    He is thoughtful and considerate. He wants to help people.

    But he still blurts out stuff that is irreverent like he used to. He still makes the same faces and likes the same jokes. He still eats the same foods he enjoyed before, and likes the same general THINGS he liked before.

    So I guess this is my dad without all the baggage. It’s interesting to watch him be his default self.

    He says God threw him off the porch to pay for his sins. Apparently he forgot he was not particularly religious either.

    I’m not sure what my point was. 🙂

    Maybe that my dad is an example of how a person can be if they don’t hold onto the negative. He was sort of lucky to get it knocked out of him in a second rather than having to move through it which so many people don’t get the chance to do.

    Like your mom.

    Which is sad.

  11. This is a very insightful essay.  Choosing to be happy is, indeed, the hardest thing.

    Have you read The Depression Book by Cheri Huber?  It’s about using depression as an opportunity for spiritual growth.  Parts of it are riotously funny, too, which is a big help.

    • rb137 on July 20, 2009 at 06:52

    Buddha did say that life is suffering. For me, that lesson always manifests itself as a paradox — it is ultimately my unwillingness to face suffering that causes me to suffer.

    People have their unique ways of engaging or avoiding pain, and they often create loads of unneccesary discomfort while doing so. One thing we all tend to do, though — we tend toward comfort as well as we can manage.

    Which brings me to what you said about happiness in America. The awful rules that you cite were not created by fault of some flaw in America’s character or such — they are just an artifact of regular people responding to their circumstances. We live in a society whose economy is based on selling things. For the most part, these are things that no one needs, ever. But these things create comfort, and if they don’t create comfort, ad companies can convince people that they will grant good feelings — that a new car will bring love, or those new jeans will draw new friends, or that house on the end of the block will demand respect and admiration from everyone you think perceives you as a little under snuff…

    Our country with its idiot boxes and warehouse stores full of cheap plastic junk and primary colors has become the opiate of the masses. And it is perpetually so, because no one will look at their suffering so long as they are distracted toward material relief — no matter how temporary. It is what enslaves the poor and lines the pockets of the economic elite. And I suspect that it will always be so, as long as powerful people want to sell worthless things to minions.

    But buhdy, you get all of this. And you are yelling louder always to break the perpetual suffering that causes our country so much pain. Good on you.

    But to chronic depression — I don’t have an answer. There certainly are people who embrace the blues because it is indulgent, but there are others who have no choice. And I suspect that it has always been so. I am happy that depression is better understood and even successfully treated nowadays.

    Namaste. May you and your mother have peace.

  12. I was diagnosed as depressed about a year ago and my doctor suggested various pills I could take to combat it.  I saw right through it.  I’m sad a lot of the time, but who isn’t?  It seems as though they are using it the same way they’ve been using ADD the past few years.  They want you to buy medication.

    Of course I’m depressed…I pay attention!

    • robodd on July 20, 2009 at 07:20

  13. last night on PBS for about the dozenth time.  

    The return to “happiness” or the continuing look for happiness comes back when, as the caravan of carts filled with the belongings they could carry, winds along the dirt roadway and the fiddler follows them, playing those same strands on his violin and dancing on his way…

    Once again, life reaches into the future…with hope…

  14. are why I love this blog. Thank you, buhdy…..I never before considered that depression might be a friend we need at times.

  15. gene that was expressed.  My folks were pretty much happy, but of course had their challenging moments.

    I wish you only the best, my friend, and hope that you overcome that depressive gene.

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

  16. You are fortunate in that you self-learned introspection.  It is that introspection that has saved you and seen you through.  Understanding the progressive state of your mother’s depression and how you could easily have succumbed to the same ways of malcontentment as a way led you seek other ways and learning as you go along.  I understand this, too, without elaboration.

    As to happiness!  I’m not sure I believe there is such a thing as a chronic state of happiness.  I think happiness is more or less a fleeting moment in one’s life — it happens unexpectedly and you are ecstatic for a while.  It may be that we’re confusing happiness with peace.  Inner-peace.  Achieving inner-peace, to me, is very important.  I think, trite as it may sound, being true to oneself, is the answer.  As we go along, including our moments of introspection, we have, hopefully, developed some philosophy for living, a personal guideline, if you will.  (Of course, I would say the Ten Commandments would also be a part of that personal guideline.)  But I think it goes beyond that — what is meaningful and what isn’t kind of thing.  Being true to that personal philosophy and not allowing yourself to be “sold out” along this life path helps to achieve that inner-peace — it is the “self” within you, if that is understandable.  There are those who have strayed and sold themselves out so many times that they cannot refind that “self” again and they are lost, as a result.  Achieving inner-peace also helps us to be happy when that “moment” arrives, or to be “sad” in that event, and so on.

    I agree with you, buhdy, and others up above — this society is totally screwed up because of a falsity of ideals and what constitutes happiness.  Depression is a normal part of life — things happen to depress us, or sometimes, we just feel depressed for no apparent reason, and it’s probably just a necessary step to search our way through it.  Depression is as healthy as any other emotion, so long as it doesn’t reach a crippling stage — and, usually, that spells out clinical depression.  All of our emotions are healthy.

    And, certainly, we could all learn to be kinder to one another — in simple ways and more care human beings.  Capitalism has damaged us in many ways, but we can learn to mitigate its damages.

    Peace~~~~

    • zett on July 21, 2009 at 02:14

    when I went there, now many years ago, was I felt like I had cast off the burden of American expectations.

    I figure the place has been Americanized beyond all recognition by now, but then, I felt like I was in a place you could walk along the beach and talk to yourself and be a bit of a nutter and you wouldn’t have a bunch of people labeling you a failure for not cheerfully toiling in a cubicle.  

    Your diary has given me much to think about. I buried my mom a bit over a year ago and I feel stuck or something. Blessing you to you in your journey through the aftermath. It sounds like you are going to do well

  17. This is my mom.

    http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html

    It is estimated that 5% of the world’s population is oriented this way and I would submit that all of them occupy those highest realms of global super elite power.

    Parasites, one and all.

    The innocent adoring smile of a three year old who thinks I am Superman by diving into the pool gives me some hope for the human race.  Kids are uncorrupted by society until school teaches them to obey authority and conform or else.

    I wonder what technology did the Illuminati sorely need in order to justify the creation of the United States of America and now that they have it, how quickly they are dismantling that beacon of hope for humanity.

    Why?  Because they are all sociopathic parasitic assholes.

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