I Choose Depression

When I told my mother that I am dealing with depression she said, “Well son, depression is a choice.” Then she quickly escaped any further conversation about it by making up a story that she was in a meeting and had to go. What meeting? My mom has not worked in over twenty years.

Even though I felt deeply wounded by her quick dismissal of my pain, I thought about what she said. “Depression is a choice.” Am I choosing to be depressed?

A fellow psychotherapist whom I sometimes have lunch with deals with serious depression. But he is one of the happier people I know. He often says, “I choose joy. I choose to be joyful because I have to.” Really? You have to? I find it odd that someone who is very depressed could appear so happy. Something seems very forced and inauthentic about it to me, but who am I to judge? Don’t most people do this?

Deep down, depression is a choice. It is true that I have little interest in happiness. I find positivity and happiness to be incredibly banal and superficial states to be in. If I am happy, great- I will enjoy it. But it is the pursuit of happiness and positivity that I think is responsible for so much misery.

As a psychotherapist, the one thing I hear all the time is, “I just want to be happy.” This I feel is the root of most people’s unhappiness (and empty bank accounts).

I choose not to be happy. If happiness shows up, as it sometimes does, I don’t turn it away. I enjoy it. But I choose to not strive to be happy and positive. I don’t think I should be happy. In fact, I think the desire to be happy is just as dangerous as driving a motorcycle at high speeds.

Depression is a logical emotional reflection of the world we are living in today. Just like a pool of water reflects the sky and trees that hang over it, depression is a reflection of the world the soul is living in today. The soul is lonely and in a state of terror and despair. The soul is sad about all the sensless violence all around. The soul feels under threat from the absence of creativity and authentic community in our working and private lives. The soul feels stuck by political and economic conditions outside our control. The soul feels empty because the more it tries to find fulfillment in external things, the more alone and empty it feels. The soul is quite frustrated in the Capitalistic world of today.

And then there is the simple fact of our own mortality. The fact that everything we love, everything we hold close to ourselves, everything we have earned, even ourselves, will disappear. When a person really looks closely at the image being reflecting by the pool of water- depression is what they will see.

Most chose not to look at all. Just keep looking away. Say you have a metting to get to.

My mom is right though. I do chose depression because depression is what I see reflected back at me, especially in my work as a psychotherapist. I mean how could I hear about the worst things that happen to people in life, day after day, without feeling depressed? How could I be a psychotherapist and be happy? Happy Psychotherapist is just another term for Sociopath Psychotherapist, Psycho Psychotherapist or plain old Shitty Psychotherapist. If a therapist is able to be happy while hearing about the worst things that happen to people, stop seeing them. They do not care about you, even though they may act like they do.

The best psychotherapist I ever knew, who was given all kinds of awards and wrote several books and was a prestigous mentor to many including myself, jumped off a bridge.

If I am going to provide guidance to those going through the various difficult aspects of life, I want to be one of them. I want to get real with myself and stop pursuing fake dreams of Hollywood induced happiness. How else can I really help? This is what I learned from him.

In middle-age, my life has become more about learning how to live with, learn about, accept and get better at describing the image being reflected back at me, rather than trying to change it, run from it, fix it, deny it, worry about it, complain about it and/or ignore it (common stratageies in the America of today).

Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone. This is my strategy. I leave my depression alone. I see it and accept that it is there. I lean into it and learn from it. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I just notice that it is there and smile at it. Sometimes I notice that it goes away.

Because of depression I am pushed further inside of myself. I am forced to let go of any kind of belief in the attainment of any real Hollywood fulfillment through economic and material gain (consumerism) and instead work towards transmuting my loneliness into real solitude.

I meditate. I contemplate. I sit alone.

Loneliness is a terrible feeling of disappearing even when we have so much and are around so many. When lonely, we can never get enough and are continually in pursuit of more. We even feel separated from ourselves when alone so we turn on the TV for company. Solitude means to be at home in ourselves. A person who is in real solitude is a person who is comfortable within themselves. A person in solitude is a person who is no longer disappearing. They have arrived. They are two people in one. Friends with themself. A person who is dealing with lonliness (which is the majority of people in American society) is no one in one. They have no friend within to sit with.

The person who is striving for happiness is often no one in one. This feeling of being no one within is the fuel that keeps us searching for more. Some of the greatest empires and fortunes have been built by these kinds of people. But this striving is an endless pursuit because it is the pursuit which is creating the loneliness.

Depression pushes us down into solitude. The person with depression is given the opportunity to become more at home within themselves by being pushed further within. The person who survives and successfully manages depression is the person who has been able to move from loneliness into solitude. Those who do not survive depression or who end up having depression destroy their lives, have not been able to move through loneliness. They get stuck in continually feeling as if they are disappearing inside because they are pursuing happiness on the outside.

So yes, I do chose to be depressed. Why not? Depression helps me to relate to the world in a way that feels more logical and sane. The happiness and positivity craze that the vast majority of people are suffering from at this moment in history, only leads a person away from themselves and towards more lonliness. Just do a Google search on the amount of people taking psychiatric medications and buying self help books in this country. The pursuit of happiness and positivity creates a superficial existence that lacks substance because it is always in pursuit of something. Depression is deepening. It pushes a person further within themselves because there is the realization that the loneliness in the outside world can never bring them the happiness they were looking for.

Fuck happiness. Stop buying their books and going to their workshops. Stop ingesting their pills. By now don’t you see that it does not work? Instead, get better at being depressed.

It is only through going further within, through the deepening of one’s relationship with oneself that real solitude can be attained. And it is when we discover solitude within ourselves, that we really start to live free.

The Pervert’s Guide To A Small Town

Hello there. I have begun a new writing and drawing project on Tumblr called The Pervert’s Guide To A Small Town. I don’t know why I am doing this but it may have something to do with being a pervert living in a small town. Please feel free to come and join me on this perverted journey. Thank you.

Why The American Dream Has Killed My Writing Career.

When my wife asks me how I am and I tell her that I am depressed, she no longer asks why.

I know that all emotions and thoughts are inherently empty and impermanent so I try not to get too caught up in any of it. Sometimes, I just let myself be depressed.

I know that my entire identity is just a phantom passing in the day and night. I try not to identify with much of it.

But still I feel. Still I think. I am human.

My dream has always been to be able to make a living as a writer. A fiction writer. I did not expect this to happen until, and if, I made it to fifty.

Now at forty five I can’t really write. The American Dream has killed my writing career.

My younger self knew this would happen if I gave in. There is no one else to blame but myself.

Depression makes it hard to write. Depression is often the end result of the American Dream.

I have a house now. I must keep my house clean because I can not function adequately in a house that is a mess. Cleaning my house every day takes away from time that I can write. Being stressed out about a house that is a mess takes away from the energy I need to write.

I must work a real job in order to afford my lifestyle. A real job drains a person and does not leave them with much energy outside of work to do anything else.

I own a business, which requires much of my attention, which leaves less attention for my writing. A man can only spend so many hours working. Whether it is my real job or writing, it is all still work. I need a good amount of non-work-down-time in order to feel alright. Down time plus working a real job does not leave much space within which to write. I see now why Kafka continually decided against marriage and the domestic life.

I am married and a marriage often comes with a good amount of emotional drain. There are problems to attend to. Another person in your daily life mix. This takes up time and energy, which was once used to write.

I have a garden, a front yard and these organic entities need my daily watering attention. This takes away time to write.

I have four dogs which are continually needy. I can’t stand to see dog shit just hanging out in my yard, so I must pick this up each day since my wife refuses to. Having four, needy animals around all the time takes away from the tranquility which is often needed to write in. Dogs take up a lot of psychic space.

Then there is the daily meditation that I must do each day to deal with the anger, anxiety, stress and depression, which seems to be a daily part of American Dream life. Meditation makes me feel more at peace and when I am more at peace I have little use for writing stories. I would rather just sit in my garden and watch birds fly by.

As a business owner I have emails to check. People that want things from me. Appointments to make. People to stay in touch with. Bills to pay. Other people’s problems to think about. All of this will drain a person’s creative inner life away. All of this leaves me feeling too preoccupied with the real world to think about fictional other worlds. I am too caught up in this world and rather than write I just engage my iPhone.

Being overly connected is the death of a creative life. A creative person needs to spend a certain amount of time each day disconnected our else their creative energy will be sapped. Great artists and writers, I doubt, check their social media, text messages and emails fifty plus times a day. I do.

Then I need to do dishes, make food, buy food, be pissed about not eating the right food. This food thing takes up a lot of time that could be spent writing.

Then I need to buy things to feel better about not having the writing career I want. Does not seem to work.

Then there is everything else- bills, cleaning car, tending to cars, laundry, exercise and on and on.

This is the standard lifestyle, which is a result of achieving the American Dream. It generally leaves a person overwhelmed, addicted to zoning out on their iPhone and looking forward to that drink they can have when the day is done, so they can get some temporary relief.

This is a pathetic way to go through life. It is completely missing the point in being alive. It is a lifestyle based in comfort and security and it leaves a person feeling trapped, stuck and overly entertained. Nothing good grows out from this place. Especially not a writing career.

I know there is a lot more I could say here, but I do not have time. I must go to work now.

The End.

Making It As A Writer And/Or Artist

The first trick is to not let the depression of not making it kill you. Everything else is easy in comparison.

I have no idea how to make it as a writer and/or artist. I have been trying for over two decades and am only a bit closer than I was ten years ago. I have tons of unfinished novels and graphic novels and short stories just sitting there waiting to be edited and sent out into the world. But for whatever reason, I have not been able to finish any of it.

I write these blog entries (or what I like to tell myself are essays) because it is an easy way to create something and be done with it. But at the end of the day self-publishing these blog entries (essays) amounts to nothing. I am no closer to reaching my goal of making it as an writer and artist than I was decades ago. If anything, blogging just slows that process down.

So who am I to write about making it as a writer and/or artist? Nobody. I have no idea how to do it. For me, it is like trying to solve a crossword puzzle that is in a language I do not speak. I just can’t seem to figure it out.

But if I do know something about something, what I know something about is the process involved in making it as a writer and/or artist. I know this part of the work very well because I have been stuck in the process for the past twenty plus years.

The one and most important thing that I want to say about the process involved in maybe one day making it as a writer and/or artist is that it is a real son of a bitch. It will never leave you alone. It is like an itch that you can’t scratch. You will always feel like you should be working on something. That is ok though. As annoying as it is, when that goes away, you are done.

As long as you still have this unscratchable itch to write and/or make art, to be somebody as an artist and/or writer, the hardest part is keeping that itch alive. To keep the itch alive you must be fully committed to it. You may become a doctor, a business manager, a real estate agent, a psychotherapist, a waiter, a police officer, a teacher and on and on. After all, we all have bills to pay if we want a decent life along the way. But you must see these jobs as just a way to buy time. You are never able to fully commit to any profession other than that of being an artist and/or writer. Whatever you do for money or whatever schooling program you may be in, if you want to ever make it as a writer and/or artist, you have to always see these things as just a way to buy time.

Everything the writer and/or artist does prior to making it as a writer and/or artist is just buying time. You are just fooling people just enough so they will pay you to do something but your heart is never really fully in it. The moment your heart is fully in doing whatever it is you do to make money, you are finished in your process of ever really making it a writer and/or artist.

This is the hard part. Hard because most will never, ever make it as a writer and/or artist. You will just be buying time for your entire life. Some, the few, will make it and even if they are in their sixties when they do, it will feel great. But most will never make it. I am probably one of them who never will. But by just living a life where you are buying time so that you will not be fully suffocated by economic demands and end up giving up on your dream of one day making it as a writer and/or artist, I think is worth something in the end. In the end, what will matter most is that you stayed true to yourself. That you continued to try. That you stuck with it. And even though a lot of depression will come along with your lack of success and the hardship involved in continually trying but not getting anywhere, the depression and despair will ultimately (if you are lucky) be the fuel that keeps you true to your vision.

This is how I guess one makes it as a writer and/or artist. You must remain true to your vision. You must buy time and be prepared to lose everything. You must find ways to cope with the depression so it does not end up killing you (and your vision) too soon. And if you keep at it, if you keep slaving away and are lucky to live long enough, maybe you might just make it as an writer and/or artist someday. Maybe not. But that is not what will matter in the end, I suspect.

Buy time.

MARIJUANA: Insights From Yesterday’s Use.

I can’t do it often. My life wouldn’t work if I did. I don’t mean this in the way that you might think I mean it. You probably think I mean that I would become lazy, disengaged and less productive if I used marijuana often and this is why my life would not work. Nope. The opposite is actually true. Let me explain.

First of all, this cliché idea that marijuana makes a person lazy or disengaged or uninspired or less productive is true. But these marijuana users are amateurs. Still in their idiot stage of marijuana use. For people who are not amateurs, marijuana is an incredibly powerful and potent drug.

Marijuana opens and expands the mind. If what is already in that mind is superficial and dumb, the person will have a superficial and dumb experience.But if that mind has more depth, intelligence and creativity in it, then the experience can be immensely useful.

You see, marijuana takes a person beyond their normally imposed limitations. It allows a person to really look at themselves from a distance and see things in a “wide open” and clear way. The result is normally more creativity, personal insights and understanding.

Alcohol on the other hand numbs the mind. Alcohol creates zeropersonal insights. Alcohol allows a person to forget themselves. It turns the volume in the brain way down so a person can feel more relaxed and less tormented by fear and general negative thoughts. Alcohol normally turns fear off and the result is a good, carefree time where a person is no longer confined by their more sober limitations. Alcohol does not expand the mind, it dulls it. This is why many people use alcohol to treat their worried, unhappy, judgemental and stressed out minds.

I deal with a good amount of anxiety and depression, which I normally treat with mindfulness meditation (and a few beers or glasses of wine). Using marijuana yesterday gave me a better understanding of why I get depressed and anxious and why I need to use mindfulness more, to treat it.

You see we all live within a particular kind of social construct. Like fish in a fish tank we live in a particular socially conditioned system. In America, this system tends to be economic (and religious) based. In America right now, economics (or Capitalism) is the main religion. This creates a particular construct (identity) that we all exist within. But this identity (who we think we are) is mostly conditioned in to us. It is not really our own making. Everyone experiences this American identity in very similar ways (worry about money, worry about the future, worry about all the things that need to get done, preoccupation about what we are going to buy or where we are going to dinner or on vacation and on and on). It is this socially conditioned identity that is the cause of so much of what makes us unhappy.

Why? Well, it may not be so easy to explain and you can read Freud, Nietzsche, E.M. Cioran, Shunryu Suzuki, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Benjamin Fondane, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski and others for more insights. But let me try.

This identity, our shared economic-based-identities, is created by the social construct that we live within. It is informed by consumerism, capitalism, media and many other things. Literally, a big part of our identity was shaped and designed to some degree by people sitting in an advertising office someplace. And we identify so strongly with our identities (our egos) that it ends up causing us much emotional and psychological pain.

The reason for most of the depression, anxiety and general unhappiness that we experience is that this is what the limitations and economic based social construct that we live within creates in us. Unhappiness, unfulfillment, depression and anxiety are what happens when we live within social conditioning and the American social construct. It is the nature of the system we live in. There is no way to feel happy or fulfilled when living in this American social construct (no matter how many Tony Robbins conferences you go to) because the nature of the system creates unhappiness. It needs to in order to sustain itself. To keep us doing, working, buying, pursuing.

It is like if a fish wanted to be healthy, longed for health and well-being but lived in a dirty fish tank. The fish would never be able to find genuine health and well-being not matter how hard they tried. They would continually be pursuing it but never find it because it is not to be found in the dirty fish tank. The fish must find a way to get to a cleaner tank (good luck).

The only way to really experience authentic happiness, fulfillment, well-being and creativity is by getting out of the American social construct. By transcending or going beyond the identity limitations imposed upon us by social conditioning. This can only happen if we are able to go beyond our identities and reach a place where we are outside of identity. This outside is more of a present moment, fully aware and creative space. It is a non-ego space where the person is completely free and beyond ordinary daily concerns (like: the to do list, needing to call clients back, work issues, preoccupations with what other people are doing wrong, various economic preoccupations, future plans preoccupations and on and on). All of these things are a result of the socially conditioned identity we share in common. It is a result of the social construct that we live in and true fulfillment, creativity and happiness can never be found in there.

I presume that the insights I had while using marijuana yesterday are similar to the teachings of Buddhism. Buddhism is based in the practice of being fully present, fully aware and not as attached to our individual egos. The Second Noble Truth in Buddhsim states that attachment is the cause of suffering. We can never be authentically fulfilled and happy if we are attached to anything that comes from our identity. Depression, anxiety, anger, unhappiness are all a result of identifying to strongly with the socially conditioned identity (ego). Don’t take my word or Buddhism’s word for it, just look at what is causing you to suffer and see for yourself.

The reason why my life would not work if I actually used marijuana legally and regularly is because I would not be able to buy into the social conditioning that every one else around me is buying into. I would see the normal things that I need to be concerned with and take care of in order to maintain a life in society, as barriers to my fulfillment, creativity and happiness. As a result, I would try not to engage with these things. My business would decline, I could lose my home and end up struggling a lot more economically. In order to sustain a comfortable and legitimate life within the American social construct a person needs to be very careful about expanding their minds too much. It could make life in the fish tank much harder for them. This is why most of us keep drinking booze. Keeps our minds closed down and a bit less stressed out.

Alcohol is the drug of choice in the American social construct (you probably drank just last night). Alcohol allows a person to cope with (rather than eradictate) the anxieties, stresses, discontent and worry that are a normal condition of the American social construct.

The limitations to a person’s personal freedom and well-being that are imposed on all of us in this American social construct creates a sense or feeling of unease. Alcohol helps take this feeling temporarily away and enables us to continue on in our confinement. Marijuana makes it very hard for a person to just carry on in their confinement. Marijuana makes a person want to break out and run free.

Can’t do that again for a while. But my depression and anxiety have mainly been the result of not feeling like I can fully be myself while living in this American social construct. I am a rather strange person who thinks and acts in unusual and highly creative ways. I need to keep this under control and act in more professional ways if I want to “fit in.” The result of squashing or not engaging my creativity is always depression and anxiety. I really struggle to stay inspired and creative because depression tends to take all of that energy away. Living within social conditioning and social limitations makes it very hard for a person to stay authentically creative, especially as they grow older. I was very happy that while using marijuana I made two paintings and wrote a few short stories. I have not been able to paint in over a year.

Through mindfulness meditation I am trying to do what marijuana brought about in me. To live more fully in the present moment, to not be as identified with my ego or identity. To shed all of my social fears and worries and preoccupations. To just be free and present with my life from moment to moment. When I am able to do this I do notice that I become happier and more creative. But it is tough because normal life within the social construct causes me to get so caught up in my identity that my identity literally starts to strangle me.

Using marijuana yesterday gave me more insight into what it is I am actually doing and need to keep doing when practicing mindfulness meditation. I am very grateful for this.

I have now seen what happens when I get too caught up in my socialized, fear based identity. We I am too steeped in my conditioned ego I lose touch with the health, creativity, fulfillment and well-being, which can only be found when my mind is open, aware and living more fully in a present moment based reality. So much creativity and fulfillment can be found here.

I bet advertisers and corporations and goverments and other economically interested agencies will not like this.

On Loneliness

I wonder if dogs or cats or birds feel loneliness.

I did not realize until this morning that loneliness is the unpleasant feeling that is eating away at me, especially in the mornings. I have always wondered why I am so unhappy and negative in the mornings. Now I know.

Do I feel lonely in the afternoons or evenings? Is the unpleasant feeling still eating away at me but I am now too distracted to notice? In the mornings my wife is still asleep and everything is quiet. In the afternoons and evenings there is work, texting, email, booze, interactions with other people, television, occasional going out and having fun. I keep busy and maybe this is why I do not feel this lonely feeling as much during afternoons and evenings. Maybe. But when I come home in the evenings or get in bed at night, the feeling usually returns. So I pick up my phone, eat more, turn on the television or read a book.

Is it because of my lonliness that I can be such a jerk in the mornings? Is loneliness the feeling behind all that depresses me?

I wonder if my need to always be reading, listening to music, checking my emails and texts, is all just an attempt to flee from the feeling of loneliness inside me.

Is this deep feeling of loneliness what has been bringing me so down over the years?

Up until a few years ago, I do not remember feeling as depressed as I have recently been. I wonder, if my lonelines continues, will my depression get progressivly worse? Even just writing this makes me want to cry.

For the longest time I did not suspect loneliness. Me lonely? No way. I am married to a beautiful and cheery wife (who spends much too much time on her phone). I have four dogs and a library filled with books. I spend my days working as a psychotherapist and have non-superficial interactions with a lot of people. I lead several very full groups each week. I spend time with my sister and my wife’s parents at least once a week. I have dinner with my own wife almost every single night. With all of this going on, how could I feel lonely?

I always feel isolated inside my own inner world. No one understands or grasps what I go through from day to day. Can anyone understand what we all go through internally from day to day? Isn’t this why we all feel so alone? No other person can ever understand what it feels like to be us. The end result is always loneliness.

But to feel alone when in the presence of other people can be the worst kind of feeling. I hate it. I want to run away from it. I drink to make it go away.

To feel like there is no one who understands you. To feel like there is no one who shares similar values as you do. To feel like there is no one whom you have the same interests as. To not feel like you have stimulating and engaging conversation with anyone. To be together but still feel so alone and disinterested. To be with others but feel so unseen. It has driven many people into a self induced early graves. I believe this is the feeling that caused Kurt Cobain and the wonderful writer Edouard Leve to take their own lives.

I feel so isolated from everyone around me. I try hard to connect but there is nothing there that feeds me. I am usually left starving. I don’t find interesting the banal ideas that populate their minds. Maybe it is my fault. Maybe I am no longer open to take anything that they have to offer me in. Maybe I have shut down. Closed the doors. I feel so uninterested in what these people have to say, that I have stopped listening. I have been so bored by people, I have been so disinterested by other people that I have given up. I have become totally disengaged, thus isolating myself even more. (One main hazard of the psychotherapy trade.)

I engage when I must in order to make money, but am always left feeling flat with nothing left to give. This must be similar to what a prostitute feels when having sex for money and being so unfulfilled by these sexual experiences that he or she loses interest in sex with everyone. It is a terrible situation to be in. One that leaves a person starving inside.

I suppose I write to help fill myself up. Writing as a kind of force feeding. I write because I want to connect with someone. I write because I want someone to understand me. I want to share something in common with someone else. But even writing leaves me feeling empty. I get nothing back and this just exacerbates the loneliness even more. This is why I have started to give up on any kind of literary success.

I don’t know what to do. Maybe I should turn more to drugs. This is why people use drugs. A person forms a relationship with drugs because it is the only relationships, often, that makes them feel less alone. You can count on drugs to be there for you every time. They can make you feel less lonely inside. I don’t know if I want to do this to my life.

I will keep trying to assuage my loneliness by reading books where I feel something in common with the writer. There are not many writers I feel something in common with since most writers are just trying to make a buck. I only finish books written by writers who write because they want to feel less alone. These are the only writers I am interested in. When I find a writer who feels like a friend I feel better for a bit. But I get sad when I know that many of these writers killed themselves.

I don’t think that smartphones are helping. Sure, I use the internet as a way to feel less alone. I use text and email also as a way to feel less alone. But these interactions often leave me feeling more empty and alone. I also find myself les able to read as much as I would like because I am always reaching for my phone. I also feel more disconnected from other people because they too are combating their loneliness by going on their phones rather than putting effort into things that will make them more engaging and interesting people to spend time with.

Smartphones turn people into unattractive, distracted, bores. I am surrounded by people (including myself) obsessed with their smartphones. We have sold out for the quick fix of shallow communication and connection.

I don’t know what to do. Most of my time is spent alone. Lost in the meanderings of my own brain. I need to be alone in order to feel “better.” When I am with other people but feel alone, I feel terrible. I feel mad. I feel disengaged. I feel like I am wasting time. I would rather be alone with myself. This never feels like a waste of time. But it always hurts.