Matthew T Grant


Tall Guy. Glasses.

Depression Is Not Simply an Intellectual Error

When I tell my wife I’m depressed, she’ll often ask, “Why?”

I usually explain that, at least for me, depression is rarely a response to some negative event. If it were, I would call it “sadness” or “unhappiness” or “disappointment.”

Depression, by contrast, is an all-permeating negative attitude or perspective, probably stemming from a genetically determined neuro-chemical fluctuation. In other words, when I’m depressed, I’m not depressed because something bad happened or something good didn’t go my way; I’m depressed because I have a tendency to depression (and, some would point out, a countervailing tendency towards mania).

It’s natural, when someone is feeling down, to try and buoy their spirits by reminding them of all they have to be grateful for (much as this blogger does in response to a recent suicide). “You still have your health!” “You’ve got friends who like you and a family that loves you.” “At least you’re not rotting away in a Turkish prison.” Etc.

The  problem is that depression is not an intellectual error. It’s not something that will go away if you just “look at the facts” or “do the numbers.” In other words, it’s not a (falsely drawn) conclusion which can be rectified if you just check your work and figure out where you  went off track.

The “count your blessings” approach can’t dislodge depression because depression doesn’t arise from miscounting. In my experience, however, it can be addressed with exercise, sleep, proper diet, a change of scenery, time spent with friends, etc. In other words, actions that change the chemical makeup of your body, rather than arguments that change your mind.

Depression manifests in our consciousness; we ought to treat it by way of the flesh in which that consciousness is embedded.

Fortuitous Mood Swings

I cannot adequately describe, though I deeply appreciate, the changes wrought in this mortal’s psyche when the cloying white of low-slung, overcast clouds is replaced by the sun’s bright rays and skies of blue.

Negativity is Endless

We were talking about all the things that we’d missed out on and I realized that negativity is endless.

There is no limit to what might have been. The negative knows no bounds. For every definite thing that is, there is an infinite number of things it is not.

But the infinity of the negative is not an infinity of variety and difference, such as the infinity of the physical universe. Instead, it resembles the infinite emptiness of the vacuum.

Freeing oneself from a negative perspective or mindset can be difficult precisely due to the weight of this undeniable endlessness. It draws us into its undifferentiated vortex and we lose our way.

By cleaving to the empty, endless space of loss, however, and taking the negative to be the true, unshakeable, never-ending reality, we also hope to master death, our own endless negation.

Nevertheless, you cannot master death, even by trying to see through its eyes.