I first got acquainted with Stoicism by chance when I was battling my darkest depression. That was exactly two years ago. My life has turned a 180 since then. Two years ago, I physically could not get out of bed until 3:00 in the afternoon. I ate a cookie or biscuit for daily sustenance. I had no job and no support system. My life was full of people rejecting me, and I was left on my own to deal with it (apart from my roommate at the time who tried her best to be supportive). I was wasting away.
Enter Stoicism. A philosophical belief system that told me to refocus my desires. Who cares about the corrupt administration in your last job (and the fact that your peers think lesser of you for exposing that corruption)? At least you can be an upright person. I clung to it. Powerful quotes that could bring goosebumps… That could make perfect sense of this picture below…
The unfortunate side effect was that people who didn’t understand it thought I’d gone off the deep-end. So it was hard to keep clinging to the one thing that was pulling me out, simply because the people who could have been pulling me out, disapproved.
It’s hard to understand depression if you’ve never been there. “Why are you always so negative? Stop complaining. That’s what your problem is.” Or most pointedly, “You call yourself a Stoic?”
That’s not helpful. Sure, I should do those things, but if it were so simple, do you think I would have this problem in the first place? Do you think I like being physically incapable of getting out of bed until the day is mostly over? Do you think it’s my goal to waste away? Would I really lose 20% of my body weight just because I want attention? That sounds like a ton of fun. I call myself a Stoic? I call myself a human. Speaking of humans, why do humans typically think it’s a good strategy to criticize a person who’s hurting as a method of making them feel better?
Did you know that Atlas was actually sentenced to hold up the Heavens on his shoulders? But for some reason the story was changed, and he’s almost always now depicted holding up the earth.
Without complaining more…. I’m sinking again. I’m sinking, and the ground is trembling. If I can’t keep holding these walls up much longer, they will crumble, either all or in part, but they will crumble…
Sure, during the respite I accomplished some good things. But people see a person making positive steps and they think that person has it made. “They’re rich,” or “they’re smart.” And they have no clue that the person is a delicate wisp, struggling to hold up the world.
“Oh, he’s pretty well off. What else could he possibly need?” Well, he might have a roof over his head and food on the table, but he’s eating his dinner alone.
I know the ultimate goal in Stoicism is to work on your Virtue. Nothing else is intrinsically good. But even the Stoics acknowledge that humans are social creatures. And sometimes we just need people to love us for who we are, even if we’re being negative.
I know this entry was mostly cathartic without any real “point.” But if I could pass on one worthwhile message, I’d ask for you to just call/email/write a letter/go talk to/Facebook message/text someone you know, who either is obviously struggling, or who seems to have it all. Just let them know you’re thinking about them, and that you appreciate them for who they are. Let them know that they aren’t truly eating dinner alone.