One day I received an email. It moved me. First, I was honoured that my post was received so well by someone who felt connected enough to open up to me. Secondly, I was shocked because I did not have an answer for my reader. The answer itself was baffling to me. I can now say with more certainty that I have found some clarity. I did not want to respond to my reader until I was ready to face the truth myself..
In Perpetual Sadness Pt. 1 I spoke about a deep sadness within us all which stems from a lack of power we have over the grand scheme of things. There is pain and suffering everywhere and we are subject to it. I pointed out that sadness and happiness are not two opposites; in fact they co-exist in me. What I want to emphasis in this post is that it is okay to be sad; a depressive realist must come to terms with his/her situation.
I understand the feeling of being trapped. It is an ache; a numbness that is uncontrollable and intense. Sometimes I feel like there is so much external stimuli coming at me from different directions, sight, smell, hearing, touching, and there are points where I feel exhausted. Reality hurts my head. In many ways, perpetual sadness is a side-effect of self-awareness you could say.
Out of everybody I know, I am the most self-reflective. I never stop asking questions and it seems that my mind is stuck on investigative loop and I cannot stop analysing my own consciousness. I am alert, sometimes to a fault. For example, I find myself watching other’s people’s representation system more closer than they might be. I am always looking for ways to better myself and others. Self-development can be mentally tiring.
The struggle for happiness is far from futile; in fact it is necessary. By and large, life is a pleasant experience, however for those who are exhausted by their consciousness, life can feel like a burden.Many of our great thinkers were consumed in their own depression. Did this prevent them from enlightening the world? No. In fact, depression provides scope, introspection, deep understanding of one’s self. Even studies show that left-wingers are more likely to be depressed than right-wingers because knowledge carries a certain weight. Happiness and sadness can live together side by side. I am a living example of this.
I survived countless situations of abuse and violence. I am a survivor of trauma. Happiness has always fascinated me because I lived in depression for most of my developmental years. Positivity is a survival tool for me. Sadness is like a ghost which follows you around and leaves it shadows in everything you do. My sense of purpose comes from adjusting to my sadness; making it a part of me and integrating it into my creative endeavours. I have learnt to channel my pain into my work. What is art without suffering? Not much.
Anguish plagues me everyday. Although I am pleased with how far we have come in technology, industrialisation, medicine, culture and etc. I still feel that humanity is lacking so much. We are still so detached from one another even though we are supposedly more connected than ever. Individualism states that ones needs should prevail over the larger will. While it is true that we should be engrossed in a process of un-conditiong self-love and self-reflection, individualism is important, but what about the collective? Compassion and empathy are so lost on us. We cannot ignore the losses of individualism. We lose touch with ourselves when we lose touch with each other. Empathy and emotional intelligence are two traits that humanity is still struggling with.
When I look through old journal entries, I am also shocked by the level of pattern re-emergence. We must not get focused on patterns. We must be focused on causation. What is causing this sad feeling? Is it because you feel different to others in society? Is it linked to childhood issues? On the other hand, It is one thing to know the origin of something and it is another thing to know how to correctly deal with it. It hard to see own feelings objectively. The best way to deal with sadness is to not view it as a problem. I have learnt that the moment is fleeting and the feeling I chose to experience will have a permanent effect on my overall happiness. So I chose to experience my moments happily; even in my own sadness. Self-awareness is a blessing, all my sadness has ever is improve me. Happiness had a tendency to blind you; it narrows your scope. Sadness opens up deeper levels of understanding about yourself. Anyone can pretend to be content; but it takes guts to befriend your sadness.
I can only answer for myself but I do not feel disconnected to my sadness. I actively work to integrate my pain into my life, I sit with it, let it marinate, and eventually, gradually it decreases, slowly but surely. There is no other way to deal with pain other than to face it. When I felt disconnected with my sadness it was because I was suppressing; repressing; leaving my fate to neurosis. Nothingness is a permanent condition; man is free precisely because he is presence to him/herself. Do not mistake your self-awareness for misery. It is possible to live a full well-rounded life with the absence of fear and anxiety. This is what happiness is to me; a balance between all the things which fulfil me. I am definitely not happy when I am anxious and fearful so I actively work to reduce the effects of those triggers. For example, If I feel sad over a lost love, I erase all reminders of the pain so I would not give myself a trigger I will not be ready for. Happiness is not a by-product; you have to actively work for it; so understand your own neural state.
Memory is not permanent so there are a few milliseconds where you can excursive neuro-biological control over how you perceive things. If you live life as it were a joy, an exciting undiscovered adventure, you start to build memories that are positive and if you banish fear of the future, you can enjoy the moment in its totality. A quote I like is that “the meaning of life is that it stops”. This means that every second of life is truly precious and worth cherishing. Your mindset should be this; how can I turn every miserable, sad event into something positive? I would say I’m a full-time “memory flipper”. I take every negative experience as a life lesson, I value every second as a sacred moment in the journey of my existence and even if life presents the worst situations to me; I take it as a challenge to improve myself.
I have to wake up every day with the belief that this day will be better than yesterday. I have to believe. Hope is the only thing that keeps me going. Use your sadness as a reflection, see it as your glory-stamp for being a believer. All change confronts obstacles, and it can be both exhausting and emotional to go through the daily-motions. But, your sadness stems from your deep understanding of how much in the world is truly out of your reach to change. You cannot stop H&M from owning Bangladeshi factory slaves, you cannot stop institutional racism from tormenting minorities, you cannot stop corporations from destroying the environment, you cannot stop your government from trampling on your liberties.. the list goes on. It can get depressing not being part of a change that you don’t even believe is possible at times..
Some techniques I have used to dissuade negative thoughts:
- Making a list of all the things In my life I am grateful for
- Reading the works of philosophers who felt the same way I do
- Diamphramic breathing
- Yoga and meditation
- Understanding how non-dualism works “everything is what it is“
- Waking up everyday in a positive mood reinforcing the idea to myself that “today will be great because I chose it and deserve happiness”
- Actively not allowing myself to fall into pits of self-doubt, self-blame or just general mental torture by over-thinking (if you let 1 negative thought in, you start to breed them, it is a slippery slope you must avoid)
- Not taking life too seriously
- Understanding that all feelings are temporary
- Writing an empowering, motivating letter to myself including only positive things about myself and read it over whenever necessary
- Being present in all moments and having singular focus (If I am ironing, then In my mind I am ironing and nothing else)
- Feeling like a soul rather than material body
- Causing feelings of happiness in other people
- Keeping my temple clean, eating healthily and not poisoning my system
- Regulating my sleep cycle so that my neural receptors do not lose sensitivity to norepinephrine and serotonin a
It is no guarantee that following these steps will remove your sadness. I want to make it clear that pain is a part of you as much as happiness is a part of you. Do not deny any parts of yourself, even the parts which you perceive to be bad for you. Sadness might in fact be more useful to you than you realise. I will be perpetually sad forever, but I also won’t ever rest until I am happy, so the two actually balance each other out in some weird esoteric way.