A few days ago I received an email. The part relevant to this post is the following:
I would call you a rebel, a man who is not quite satisfied with the modern structure of the world. Such people are more prone to depression. Therefore, I want to ask - have you ever had depression, apathy, and if so, how did you cope with it?
The email was unexpected, like most emails, and the question extremely interesting therefore I'm gonna do my best to reply.
I never considered myself a rebel. I don't think what I do with my life is that special or unique and I don't consider my lifestyle an act of rebellion. But I do see myself as a person who's "not quite satisfied with the modern structure of the world". There are many things I don't like and/or "approve" about the way modern society is currently set up. And just to be clear, that's my problem. I don't expect society to conform to my view of the world.
Having said that, I must admit that I do like the rebel label.
Depression, Apathy and Mental Well Being
Let's take the question apart and tackle Apathy first. Apathy, according to the dictionary is defined as lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. Now, in order to give a proper answer we need to define the scope of that definition. What are we talking about here? Are we talking about apathy in regard to life in general and other human beings? Then no, I don't think I am apathetic. I care about the people around me, I care about the two other human beings who live with me, I care about my 4 cats, I care about my friends that are currently scattered across the globe and I care about life in general.
Yet, there are moment when I feel down. There are moments when I don't really care about what I am doing with my time, moments when I don't care about my work, moments when I'd love to just throw my computer out the window and disappear out in the woods.
Now the hard one, depression. I'm gonna grab the dictionary definition again as a starting point:
a mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep
If the question is "am I depressed according to that definition" then my answer is maybe?. Here's the thing: I don't really know what depression is. And I'm not saying this because I'm the tough guy who can't be depressed. I'm saying this because I genuinely don't know what depression is. Do I "feel depressed"? No. Do I think I could be happier? I guess yes. Do I think I could be in a better mental space? Absolutely. Do I think there are people who are in a worse situation than me mentally speaking? Yup.
Depression to me (keyword "to me") is one of those borderless terms that can be used to describe situations that are wildly different. I'm perfectly aware that there is a clinical definition of what depression is, I'm not arguing against that just to be clear. I'm talking about the use of the word among people who are not psychologists, when the term is used very loosely to describe any type of downward swing.
I can confidently say that I'm not going through the happiest time of my life. Lots of thoughts about what I want to do, how I should spend my time and so on. At the same time though I am aware of how lucky I am because I'm healthy, I live in a beautiful place, with wonderful people.
As for the "how did you cope with it?" part of the question, there are a bunch of different things I do to stay afloat:
- I yell at Rob because he still doesn't know how to properly align a text inside a container
- I go for hikes and walks
- I troll Carl on chat pretty much on a daily basis
- I play with the cats
- I write blog posts for this site
- I help friends with their web projects whenever I can
- I play basketball and video games with friends
- I meditate
- I read books
This is by no means a complete list. Just some of the things I like to do that make me happy. As always, if you have comments or questions or just want to say hi send me an email.