Depression And Discovering Meaning
If you’re depressed your depression has already taken a lot from you. It’s probably taken away your interest or pleasure in daily activities that used to seem interesting or pleasurable. It’s probably taken away your happiness. It’s probably taken away your hope. It’s probably taken away your sense of self-worth. It’s probably taken away your motivation to get out of bed. It’s probably taken away your capacity to maintain a healthy diet or your normal weight. It’s probably taken away your felt ability to construct a future for yourself. It’s probably taken away some important relationships or at least put them on hold.
And, if you’re like most people, it’s probably taken away your energy. It’s an all too common symptom of depression, that fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day. And your journey out of depression faces a serious roadblock, a physical roadblock even if its origins are psychosomatic, as long as fatigue plagues your footsteps. One powerful decision you can make right here right now is to commit to daily exercise and a healthy diet in order to produce more of the important neurotransmitters that will give you the necessary energy to do all the things you need to do to leave depression behind.
From our existential point of view depression is the response to the lack of meaning in life. Meaning is not a one size fits all affair, it’s different for all of us since meaning is derived through the process of self-actualization. We all must self-actualize in our own unique ways since we’re all unique individuals. When we ignore the calling of our true Selves and, for whatever reason, start walking a life path that is not our own we rationalize our choices on different grounds but at the deeper level we’re aware of the fundamental lie and we rebel against it. If we keep obstinately pushing forward, if we pay no heed to the battle raging in our psyches, then sooner or later our Selves take matters into their own hands and shut our bodies down, whether that’s what we consciously want or not. That’s what depression is, it’s a powering down, a going offline. It’s the Self deciding enough is enough, that it’s not going to allow the body to keep getting used for ends outside of Self.
Therefore moving out of depression requires the recognition that the current structure of your life isn’t working anymore and probably hasn’t been working for some time. Wanting to go back to the way things were before your depression struck is wanting to set yourself up for another fall since it’s exactly the way things were that got you here.
With the recognition that the current structure of your life isn’t working anymore in place, moving out of depression requires the energy to get back out into the world and start testing various possibilities in order to implement a life plan where you can walk your path of self-actualization again, a path that will allow for the unfolding of your unique potentialities.
There are certainly many different life paths that allow for the unfolding of our unique potentialities. What matters is that we discover one of them rather than remaining on a route that might have been supplying us with money, power, prestige, or popularity or might have been sanctioned by our super egos but was definitely not allowing for our unfolding, was not allowing for the development of our unique traits and talents in order to become who and what we really are. We believe that human life has objective meaning but we humans are the meaning makers, we can’t have the meaning of our lives handed to us but must discover it ourselves, must feel it in our bones, must know it in a phenomenological way. Nothing else is good enough, each of us only gets one chance in the whole history of the universe to self-actualize and with this self-actualization to merge with meaning. When we start blowing that chance at some level we know it and unless we change the practice of our lives depression is the predictable result.