I suppose everyone rationalizes their mental illness differently. I am going to talk about the most nefarious kind of rationalization: hating the world, and everything in it.
I know that some people rationalize their illness by criticizing internally, locking their pain inside where it eats away at whatever love they might have for themselves, but that’s not everyone. That wasn’t me.
I fell into another kind of trap, that of the unwavering cynic. I criticized outwards with a vitriol that spewed like a round-headed sprinkler. It was an indiscriminate stream. Anything could be hit.
I hated everyone; Capitalists, Socialists, Democrats, Republicans, Hippies, Hard-Asses, the religious, and non-religious alike. I didn’t like school, society, or the human race. I saw us killing the planet, and the planet trying to kill us. The world seemed like a very cold and unforgiving place, full of tricksters, sycophants, and savages. Love was a myth, family was a facade, and friends were a commodity.
It all seemed so self-evident.
Of course, I didn’t actually hate Capitalists, or Hippies or anything. Not really. What I really hated was my own existence, and they were a part of it.
Depression can wound you. It can make you suffer, and in that suffering you might reach out into the world for an answer. The natural reaction is to rationalize our emotions, so for someone who feels internal suffering it is very difficult to resist the impulse to look for an external cause. There is disdain behind the eyes that are looking for someone to blame. If there is no obvious culprit to your suffering, then you make one up and they become the receptacle of all of your accumulated hatred for life itself. Like a cycle, that hate circles closer, starting with the more distant things; social trends, politics, institutions, then tightening its circumference inward; hometowns, friends, family, right down to the very core truth: yourself. It circles your ego, bouncing off of it’s rigid defenses, and heading back out into space. Then the cycle repeats.
If you haven’t been as I have been, then you no doubt know someone who has. Someone who sees only the ugly side of things, who feels perpetually victimized and diminished by life’s many games. Someone who opens themselves up to the darkest themes of the world and invites that darkness to take refuge within them. It’s a sad thing that happens to people, but it happens.
It is possible for a once happy person to become so morbidly negative because the gates of perception do not exist on a one way road. Sometimes our emotions aren’t dictated by the world around us as much as the world around us is dictated by our emotions. A profoundly unhappy person can’t help but see a world worthy of being profoundly unhappy in. It is a case in which the germ of depressive delusion uses rationality to protect its own existence. If we were to feel unhappiness, but look to the external world and see positive things, then that inconsistency in itself might be enough to jar loose the grip that depression has on our mind. However, unfortunately that is not the nature of the disease. The depressive state infects our very perception of the world around us. It tones all we see with a negative hue, perpetuating the cycle onward.
It’s a sad truth of life that those who are in the most pain often inflict the most pain on others. It’s almost like pain isn’t a feeling, but a living, breathing entity of its own. Like a parasite, it jumps from host to host, constantly craving new blood.
I am ashamed of the times I put my pain on the world and let depression get the best of me, but there’s nothing I can do about that now. The key is to catch yourself early. That is what I wish for others. You need to ask yourself, Do I really believe this? Am I attempting to rationalize my depression?
Mindfulness is the only way to avoid this trap. The confusing thing is that there are elements of life that are worthy of being sad about. If there is one thing I have come to believe in, it is balance. Positive and negative flow like currents through our lives, crashing and receding against each other. If you ever find yourself thinking that the world is either all good or all bad, i’m sorry to tell you this, but you are suffering from a delusion. Sometimes negative breaks the balance like a storm surge (a good example of this would be the consequences of war) but neither positive or negative are ever completely missing. They are eternal.
If I could speak to anyone else who’s going through something similar, I would tell them to be very sure before they cast judgement on existence itself. Be sure that your skepticism comes from a desire for truth, and not the desire for an answer to your personal pain.
It’s a hell of a thing to hate the whole world. It’s a poison like no other, and whether those who do know it or not, it’s a masochistic enterprise; to hate the world is to hate yourself, for you are inextricably part of it.