The Big Empty

Depression is a state of being that impacts all of us. We may experience it differently and deal with it in a variety of manners, but the important takeaway is that we all experience it on some level.

I personally dealt with depression for over a year, from 2011 to 2012. Mine was triggered by my work environment; I went through every day dreading work, feeling worthless, questioning my value regularly and hating the administration. There were days I’d be driving over a bridge and think about veering to the right as a means of avoiding going to work the next day. Thankfully I had the sense not to, but the fact that those kind of thoughts were sprouting up was reason to be concerned.

I began seeing a therapist to discuss my stress and thoughts and eventually left that job, and found another in the same industry where I not only felt valued but learned to value myself again.

Why does depression exist? It’s hard to say. I mean, I could go on and talk about dopamine and serotonin levels and the firing of synapses, but scientists still don’t have the exact explanation for why these chemical imbalances happen. There are theories, but none have been conclusive in their results. But why are there so many people in first-world countries suffering from depression, while there are people with far more difficult lives who have higher levels of happiness?

I have a theory, myself, but I must forewarn you- I am not a scientist or a doctor. I am merely a man who has seen a significant amount of depression in his life and has spent a lot of time thinking about it.

A Caged Tiger

Have you ever been to the zoo and watched the tigers? Do they ever seem to be happy? Or do they usually just lie down in a spot, and maybe walk a few feet? What happens to a tiger in captivity?

A tiger is meant to roam and hunt; it’s in their nature. When locked in a zoo, they have less freedom and are fed regularly. They lack the physiological and psychological engagement that they are born to have, and therefore reluctantly go along with the daily routine. Without those needs being filled, the tiger grows lackadaisical with depression. After enough time, the stress might build up to the point where the tiger lashes out and attacks a tourist or a zoo keeper.

A Caged Human

Like the tiger, humans have basic physiological and psychological needs. We are social creatures that need real-life interaction with other humans. Humans, by nature, are hunters and gatherers. We need physical engagement and strategic thinking throughout our lives.

Look at the conveniences we have today: cell phones, social media, microwaves, supermarkets and plenty of other things that don’t require us to move or work hard or even interact with one another. Our lives are riddled with instant gratification, hands-free work, and touch-screen communication. As convenient as these things are, they deprive us of our natural instincts, allowing us to grow sedentary and alone in our daily routines.

Like the caged tiger, it is easy to see why many people in first world countries are struggling with depression, The more convenient that technology makes certain things, the more vulnerable we may become to growing depressed. Now I’m not suggesting that we move into the woods and begin hunting for our food and surviving off of the land. Although I imagine it would be a booster shot to help deal with depression, it certainly can’t be the only answer.

How can we free ourselves?

Go out and do something different. Make some sort of life change. Challenge yourself. Get out of your comfort zone. Exercise. Put yourself in exciting situations (while still considering your own safety).

I’ve noticed that with my depression fear becomes a growing situation, especially fear of socialization. It’s amazing how depression can make us afraid of the very things we need the most. It’s tricky that way. For many with depression, they will not want to do these things and will come up with a million excuses as to why they shouldn’t or why they can’t.

If this is you, I challenge you to try these things and see how they impact your depression. I am willing to bet that the consequences of doing these things will not be worse than your current state of depression is making you feel right now.

I believe that everyone suffers from depression at some point, that it’s normal. But you are not alone. Things in life may seem scary because you probably haven’t lived it for a while, and that’s not necessarily your fault. Regardless, I encourage you to go out and take a chance. Because even if you fail at taking a chance, you still will have had the guts to face it, and that is a step in the right direction.

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© Copyright Whatismyhealth, March 22nd, 2017