Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Depression and the Stupid sign so many wear on this subject

The last painting he did before he killed himself.

Depression and Suicide

This is no laughing matter.  I only touch on this subject because of two reasons, the Christian religion’s penchant for claiming that those who kill themselves are going to hell, and the fact that so many seem to believe that all Atheists must be pessimists and depressed all the time since they don’t believe in God.

When religiosity drives someone to make the claim that a depressed person who killed themselves is in hell or was a coward and deserves to go to hell, at that point in this modern age I think whoever is hearing this from them should just hand them the stupid sign a la Jeff Foxworthy’s comic riff, and then stop listening to them.  Unfortunately, as revealed by this recent sad loss of Robin Williams, it seems that some of these stupid people are in the media and are influencing large numbers of people with their ignorant babbling.

People need to educate themselves about this serious mental illness and other related disorders that are caused by brain chemistry that has gone awry.  It takes so little effort to learn about this disease, and then to use your empathy and to try being compassionate, to try to understand how those who suffer from these afflictions might be feeling.  Instead, we get religious judgement, what was that Christians’ about “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone?”

With shit like this happening, with people being this stupid it is surprising I’m not more depressed myself.
And that brings me to my second reason: not believing in a God or Gods does not mean I’m a depressed person.  Sure sometimes I’m sad, losing someone I love ought to make me sad, don’t you think?  Sometimes I’m angry too.  These emotions alone are not enough to make someone depressed.  In another post I’ll go into details as to why Atheism, or a Non-religious perspective is in fact more optimistic than a religious one, but for now I will simply say I am living proof that a lack of belief does not equate to a lack of happiness, or depression.

Twelve years ago, I was probably depressed, and I seriously considered suicide on occasions.  I was never brave enough at that time to seek medical assistance, which is my fault I admit, but I wonder if there had been less stigma associated with mental illness in our society, if I would’ve been more likely to seek help?  I’m certainly glad that I never felt bad enough, that my depression didn't actually push me to kill myself because you know what, less than a year later my life turned around.  I met my husband, changed jobs and everything just got better and better from there.

And no, my lack of belief in a God had nothing to do with my depression.  Even if I had had religion in my life and religious counsel, it wouldn’t have made me turn my life around the way I did, no I did that, with the help of my husband.

What a lucky thing that I happened to meet this wonderful person, who’s mood reinforced all the very best things in myself.  A person who never made me feel afraid to share my thoughts or feelings.  Someone who never made me think I needed to consider my words with extreme care.  You see my previous relationships had all been with people who made their feelings for me always a prize that could be easily lost, rather than one that was wholly won.  With my husband all hoops, if they existed, were already jumped.

If the description of my Husband’s influence on me sounds familiar, like the way you imagine your God is in your life?, then good for you!  You’ve managed to turn your imaginary friend into the best of all possibilities – this friend is really your own brain, or mind, and when you think about it in those terms, that means you have a great deal of innate self-love.  Sure you might be sublimating that self-love into an external force but that may just be making it easier for you accept your own love.

Why do you suppose it is so hard for people to accept love?  Is it possibly because we keep getting shown how wrong we are or how bad we are throughout our lives?  It’s called focusing on the negative and I try not to do that anymore.   Unfortunately, religion often does make people focus on the negatives in their lives or about themselves.  It’s that whole original sin thing in Christianity.  How just one sin unforgiven can lead to hell . . . and that prize of the love of God, and a place in heaven is so easily lost.

Still my depression never became as bad as it could have been.  For a more detailed description of what it can be like to go through a clinical depression read this  from the wonderful Internet Comedian, Artist & Writer: Hyperbole and a Half.

As to Robin Williams and his sad passing, well there are no words really adequate as a tribute to this man.  I know I will miss him but I’m grateful to have had the joy of his influence in my life.  His talent might not have been so poignant or so bright had he not been suffering so much himself, and it is impossible to measure how valuable his contribution to our world has been.  All I know for sure is this world is definitely less bright and humorous for the loss of him. 

Still I think he would want everyone to cheer up and cheer on someone else who brings joy and humor into this world.  If nothing else we should appreciate what joy and laughter there is, the alternative? Focusing on the dismal aspects of this world, all the horror and violence? That’s definitely too depressing to do all the time.

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