“Ah, look at all the lonely people…” – The Beatles, “Eleanor Rigby”
We know that depression is often caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. What we often fail to recognize is that very often, depression is a natural by product of loneliness or an otherwise unsatisfying life.
Sometimes we overlook the obvious, or just fail to imagine ourselves overcoming it. We find ourselves stuck in long standing patterns that perpetuate our depression. Nobody sets out to be self limiting. It’s a product of fear and misperception. No one sets out to be self defeating. It’s what happens when you feel life has beaten down too many times.
I met with a middle aged man years ago who had been to a slew of specialists and none of them could determine the cause of his depression. No amount of antidepressants seemed to help. He met me with a mix of desperation and cynicism. He didn’t expect to get better.
I asked a ton of questions – many of them seemingly stupid. We got around to discussing sex and he blushed. He stammered out that he had not been in a relationship for over seven years. There was a sad story about a woman who broke his heart. I asked about dating? Nope. Friends with benefits? Nope. Hook ups? Nope.
Huh…Ok, do you masturbate? He studied my floor and explained that he lived with E.D. I asked if he’d spoken with his doctor? He angrily pointed out that until he was involved with a woman there was no point. I just stared. “Are you telling me you haven’t had an orgasm in seven years and you’re paying me to determine the cause of your depression?!?
Case solved. Saw him a week later – all smiles.
Ok, it’s not usually that easy…but then again, it kinda is. If you spend too much time alone, if you hate what you do for a living, if you find the escapism of TV and web surfing preferable to taking risks in life…why wouldn’t you be at least a little depressed?
The saddest folks I’ve met aren’t those without partners. They’re adults who do not have close friendships. My heart aches for them. So many of us never really get past high school in emotional maturity. We remain wallflowers who desperately need to connect with others. We still long to be cool, accepted and loved.
Too many of us are doing what we believe we’re supposed to do instead of doing what we want to do. I’ve met a lot of folks who are very responsible, hard working people who don’t ever seem to have much fun. They don’t laugh enough. They aren’t silly or spontaneous. There’s no sense of awe or wonder for them. They’re grown ups and worse they’re trying to figure it out.
Smart people think too much and miss the forest for the trees. If you derive your sense of security from what’s in your bank account, if the most important thing is how productive you are then your worth is derived in ways that make fun a bad idea.
Investing in self always pays good dividends. Investing in others pays even better. If you’re short on amazing people in your life then GET OUT THERE and make new friends. Take a class, start a new hobby, choose a worthy cause to fight for. It takes the pressure off of meeting new people when we have shared interests and activities. Ask someone to coffee. Take them to lunch. Get out of your own way.
Live, laugh, love. Give yourself the life you deserve.