The past six months for me have pretty much been a constant lesson in the true power of depression. I began the year dealing with the death of a woman who raised me. My grandmother. Following almost immediately after this, I moved. The move was particularly hard, since I found out I was moving on the day that the funeral took place, as well as having to move only days later. Being separated from my family at this time was also difficult This certainly was an interesting time in my life to be sure.
For the first time in years, I sought out psychiatric help. This proved fruitless and did nothing lessen the pain of depression. I was doing something that I had been so excited to have the chance to do, and yet there was no joy in it. Every moment of every day was a hardship. There was very little sleep to be had and the sleep I did manage was nightmarish.
In the past two months I have managed to move past much of this feeling of depression and hopelessness. Experiences of community certainly helped. Experiences of making objects, shelters, food, and the like from things found on the ground helped. If I stayed focused on the future and the hope that might exist there, depression, while still there, was lessened.
Civilization makes us sick. Sick of the mind and of the body. We struggle to pay bills, to find and keep friends, make ends meet, find jobs, and even to be happy. I struggle in my daily life to figure out how exactly I am going to pay my rent for living in a structure with a roof for the coming month. Just weeks ago I had the experience of building a shelter with just sticks and leaves. It wasn’t a hard thing to do and since it was a group effort, it was actually fun to do. I still think to myself, “Okay, what food can I afford to buy this month?” At the same time I can go outside and immediately recognize the edible and medicinal plants staring me in the face. While foraging for these items occur, they are thus far supplementary. Daniel Quinn told us the food is locked up. This is true, in our minds. Apple trees dot the landscaping here, and I for one am looking forward to the fruit they bear. Yet, still, I am so incredibly locked in to civilization. The hold is lessening, and as time goes by I feel it less.
My goals are simple in life. Most large decisions from now and until my goals are met will largely be because of these goals. This includes the very classes that I may take, which trips I go on, gatherings attended, to whether I live in a house or an apartment. I have noticed something when I made this decision. The depression lessened. Sure, there is plenty of stress, particularly recently due to a variety of reasons. The depression, though, is in hiding. My feelings on this is that having a goal and knowing you are actively working towards it gives hope.
In many primitive societies groups work together to bring about a goal. While it is work, it does not often feel as such. Building a hut, cooking dinner, gathering or hunting food, or the making of items is done with laughter, talking, and discussions. During our recent trip to learn many needed skills we discovered this. We built shelters, we made weapons, we tracked, we foraged, we made fire. Much of it was exhausting, true, but it was also fun. What many would call work was enjoyable. It was enjoyable because it was part of a community.
Many with depression either do not have hope for much or do not feel they are part of a community. Or perhaps both. It has been recently that I felt the hope and the power of community. My hope is that others will feel the same as I have.
There is always hope.
– Miranda Vivian