Hi Existential in Denver,
Depression is not an unreasonable response to senseless mass murder, the revocation of bodily rights, financial precarity, and unfulfilling work that best case benefits no one and at worst makes one feel complicit in harms. I don’t think all depression is caused by systemic problems, but I think a lot of it is.
You’re not weird or wrong for having the responses you do to the way the world is. But resist the temptation to make hopelessness and futility the whole picture. It isn’t. There is still joy on offer. Change is still possible, and I would argue it’s inevitable, simply because people can only be pushed so far before they wake up and start pushing back. Push back in the ways that you can.
This doesn’t mean you need to be on the frontlines of political protests, but that is an option. You can also push back by vigilantly pursuing the things you value in spite of your feelings of hopelessness. Make stuff. Read. Watch great films. Expand your imagination. Lean on your friends, and let your friends lean on you. Create your own avant garde world outside of work that your boss can’t access. Fill it with things and people that bring you joy and make you feel less alone.
I found myself at the low end of a depressive cycle recently, and I did two simple things that made me feel a little better pretty quickly. The first was I reached out to a friend and said, “I’m not doing well.” It was a simple act of being honest and vulnerable with another person. The second was I just started writing. Just smashing characters on my computer, not knowing where any of it was gonna go. It helped me make some sense of negative abstractions that had been taking up space in my mind.
I’m going to do a new thing, and prescribe you a movie and a record to help lift your spirits. I recently saw a tweet extolling Studio Ghibli movies for their ability to help get the tweeter through rough times. I’m going to recommend you watch Spirited Away. If you’ve already seen it, watch it again. One of the themes of the film is forgiveness; there is strength and fortitude to be gained by offering a gentler perspective toward people who don’t deserve it.
The record I’m going to ask you to listen to is Welcome Interstate Managers by the band Fountains of Wayne. It’s sort of a concept record about pointless jobs and quarter-life ennui. For me, it reveals the sadness, joy, and absolute absurdity that exist within the mundane. I think you’ll relate to this album, and it will give you some relief.
The Eve 6 Guy
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