Wednesday, March 25, 2015

On Depression and Aggression.

Harold C. Jones

The trouble with depression is the same trouble you get with any ailment or affliction.

It affects every aspect of your life, and in some cases will ultimately destroy it.

With depression comes sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, a withdrawal from social interaction, problems with drugs and alcohol.

Bad as it is to go hungry when there is food in the fridge, or sit on the couch and mope on a sunny day, or drop out of society and hang out in alleys drinking...there are worse things that can happen to a person. In a way, these are answers, coping strategies for the depressed. In some cases it might be an actual choice.

Some of the other little side-effects are even worse.

Depression quickly leads to irritability. When it gets bad enough, it leads to anger, sometimes not particularly rational anger to the objective observer.

Anger is the flip side of depression, and for good reason. Depression is very introspective—it carries the seeds of serious anxiety disorders. You worry. You obsess. You try to avert things that haven’t happened yet and might never happen, but if they did happen, it would cause more problems. You tend to try and control things, everything, and anything.

These anxieties will distort a once-normal person into something just a little bit warped.

Anger, anxiety, and good old aggression, which virtually always has undesirable consequences, are unpleasant feelings, unpleasant emotions. Yet they are also natural.

First we are afraid, and then we get angry. It’s a common reaction. It’s hard-wired, from when primitive hominids lived in a dangerous natural environment.

The first time you see the lion, you run in fear. After a while, you carry a spear and begin hunting the lions. When you see a lion, you shout, yell at it, jump up and down, and you run at him with the spear. He runs away and you laugh and chase him with your mates.

Anger is a kind of courage, or very much like it sometimes, and people have done amazing things when the adrenalin really gets going.

The trouble with anger is that it’s socially unacceptable. The outlets for anger are few and far between. This accounts for the popularity of blood sports like hockey, football, boxing and wrestling. 

People can yell and shout at the game or the screen.

They can indulge those emotions in a safe manner.

When I was very young, my mother used to buy peaches and tomatoes in the old fashioned wooden baskets. They don’t make them anymore, but the sides were thin veneer. There was reinforcing around the lip, a curved handle, a chunk of cheap crap for the bottom. It was stapled together with bits of the cheapest metal wire. She didn’t like giving them up, either, because they held clothes-pins, or oddball tools that my dad might use to fix the kitchen faucet, things like that.

I used to ask my mom for them. I used to take them out behind the garage and sort of toss them up in the air. It felt pretty good to nail one with the perfect kick and smash the thing into splinters. At the time, I didn’t know what a coping strategy was.

I don’t know what she thought of all that, but mothers really are special.

As a grown man, we learn to stifle that sort of anger. There’s no good place to get rid of it.

As a writer, I don’t even really indulge it. I don’t chop people’s heads off regularly in my books. Even the bad guys have some human qualities. I’ve never written a character that was PURE EVIL or any of that stupid shit because I just don’t believe in it. Even Hitler was a product of his environment—it wasn’t a genetic quirk or the touch of a wand conferring some ancient curse.

I’ve never really damned a person in one of my books.

To keep the anger bottled up, is to find more avoidance strategies. You have to avoid irritants.

This is where that psychosis really begins to feed on itself.

Every little thing that irritates you is a threat.

It threatens the safe and cozy little routine that you have constructed around yourself, out of fear, out of frustration, out of lack of coping skills.

To struggle against it causes frustration, and that is probably one reason there are so many people, and I see them all the time, who have given up trying.

I’m not judging them, I’m just saying they’re out there. It might even be the right choice for them. 

People can only take so much, and some are stronger than others. Maybe some of them never really did have any big expectations out of life. For them, maybe this is it—and that’s all she wrote.

Maybe they have decided the price is too high. They might understand better than I, the price of a mistake, and how things could be so much worse if they screwed up in the slightest.

Maybe I really am different, in that I have struggled against the miserable restrictions of my life for far too long.

And I hear that fucking voice in my head all the time, ladies and gentlemen.

“You have to kill yourself.”

“You have to kill yourself.”

“It’s never going to get better.”

And I am God-damned sick of that fucking voice, ladies and gentlemen.

Here’s the thing: in the end we end up fearing ourselves. We don’t want to share that shit with anyone.

And let’s be honest. Suicide is just redirected aggression.

“You have to kill yourself…”

At some level, it is a decision, a choice, to do not one thing but another. For some reason we might feel it’s better than going after someone else.

An episode of road rage and next thing you know a family in a minivan are plunging head-on into a transport. One wrong word from the wife and you’re headed for the gun rack. Not getting enough sex? Grab the old assault rifle and a bag of ammo and head for the cinema.

That is one reason why people choose suicide. They can’t handle their darkest, most horrible thoughts any longer. The real trouble is that they don’t see things getting any better, either. There is no relief in sight.

It might be better than really losing it and dashing off some quick and incoherent manifesto, grabbing a gun and heading to the capital city on a mission that isn’t going to do anyone one bit of good at all. 

It’s going to get you killed, and maybe that’s what you want at this point in your life.

We can’t get at the things that are really bothering us. And we just can’t take it anymore.

But all that fucking shit has to go somewhere.

“You have to kill yourself…”

“It’s never going to get better.”

Yeah, I get real tired of hearing that, ladies and gentlemen.

What the fuck am I supposed to do about it?

There might be some things in this world that are better off left unsaid.

This really isn’t one of them.


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