How to deal with low-level depression

Not everyone is depressed to the point of considering taking a drastic step like self-destruction. Far more of us are fed up just enough to be somewhat dissatisfied with virtually everything. I think Pink Floyd said it best:

Day after day
Love turns grey
Like the skin
On a dying man.
Night after night
We pretend it’s alright
But I’ve grown older
And you’ve grown colder
And nothing seems very much fun anymore.

Source: Waters, R. (1980). The Wall, Part 2. Retrieved from https://www.lyrster.com/songs/day+after+day+love+turns+gray+lyrics.html

Frankly, this is why Roger Waters is a millionaire, but I’m broke. He says something here deep and meaningful in a beautiful way I never could, but it’s okay. I’ve accepted my lot in life, which, I think, is where you’ll find most or perhaps all of the mildly depressed.

Some clever wag–I forget who–said, “Pointing out a problem without offering a solution is merely whinging.” Too true, mate. So, given that we understand the problem, what’s the solution?

Who knows, fella, who knows? If I had a solution, I’d not be a sufferer, but I don’t, so I am.

Instead of a solution, I’ve got a coping mechanism that I’m happy to share here. My method might not suit everybody, so it’s a good thing that I don’t claim it does. All I can say is, “it suits me, sir,” and it does help a little, so just maybe, it’ll help you too. Give it a shot. What’ve you got to lose?

If you can’t change something, change your mind

“Confucius, he say”–actually, let’s face it, Confucius, he say too much. Still, he did come up with a few zingers; unfortunately, none apply here in the way I have in mind, so it’s yar boo and sucks to the old codger, I’m afraid.

Instead, we need to turn our attention to Zen. Hui Neng, the 5th patriarch, and my favourite Zen master, once gave a famous lecture. An importunate student kept pestering Hui for the solution to a nagging problem. Eventually, Hui proposed that the two meet in the dining hall during the evening meal.

Later that day, the student came up to Hui and reminded him of their appointment. Hui nodded and handed the student a hot cup of tea, telling the student to grasp it firmly. Obediently, the student took hold of the scalding hot cup but eventually, of course, it got too hot for him, and the student became agitated, hopping from foot to foot. Finally, the student shouted, “Sir, it’s hot! It’s burning me!”

Calmly, Hui replied, “Then let go.”

A mild but persistent drabness to everything

The malady is tenacious and unrelenting; it will not let go. There is loneliness in the middle of the crowd. There is ennui in the midmorning and tiredness in the late night. The sweetest chocolate is a jaded remembrance; the prettiest girl is tomorrow’s wrinkled hag seen today, and (remember Mr. Waters’ gloomy reprise?) “nothing is very much fun anymore.”

For the mildly depressed, this is the constant companion, this solemn and intimate knowledge of, and friendship with, Fate:

O Fortune,
like the moon
you are changeable,
ever waxing
ever waning;
hateful life
first oppresses
and then soothes
playing with mental clarity;
poverty
and power
it melts them like ice.

translated from the medieval Latin poem, “O Fortuna”

You see, it’s a little more subtle than “everything is always terrible” because for the mildly depressed, that just isn’t true. Instead, the plaintive complaint is, “what’s the point?” Yes, every sorrow will pass, but so too will every delight.

Might as well have a laugh

Well, it seems to me that I’m standing on the gallows, dangling on the edge of the precipice as I wait to dangle on the end of the hangman’s rope, I might as well be British about it and have a laugh. The solution to being inescapably on the gallows is, therefore, gallows humour!

For a long time now, I have gathered little bon mots that sustain me through the gloom, not by promising the silver lining at the end of the cloud, not by pretending to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but by echoing some profound and cynical aphorism into the chamber of the abyss. If life gives you lemons, it’s no surprise. That’s the kind of stunt that life pulls all the time.

Sundry aids for the mildly depressed.

Here are a few of my favourite bon mots. Please feel free to filch and use when and as needed. It’s no skin off my nose!

The lucky ones die first.

My absolute favourite and bestest aphorism. As you grow older and learn the meaning of the phrase, “Betrayed by my body,” at least you can rest assured that one sweet day will be your turn to get lucky.

If you’re not confused, you’re misinformed.

Need I say more? Attend any scrum meeting and actually pay attention, and you’ll soon find out I’m right.

We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. For so long, we have done so much with so little that now we can do anything with nothing.

Source: Retrieved from https://best-quotations.com/catquotes.php?categ=0735

This is well worth repeating as a daily mantra as we head into the chasm of the oncoming economic catastrophe brought on by diligently foolish leaders, pursuing any and all goals save the interests of their sodden and hapless sheeple.

There’s more where this came from

Space and time do not permit me to share with you other gems from the gallows, but I trust I have now furnished you with a lit torch that will allow you to navigate this tedious vale with a slightly jauntier step born entirely of a new freedom gained from the happy abandonment of all hope.

There’s no point worrying, so don’t worry.

Cheers.

Tayo Bowyer
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Tayo Bowyer

Ex-teacher, ex-software engineer, ex-radio presenter. Current public speaker, podcaster, proofreader, and writer. Tayo was a longtime denizen of the moribund hallways, strictures, structures, and suffocating academic and corporate conformism conventions. After gaining his freedom in 2020 by essentially telling his employer to "naff off," Tayo is free now to express himself. As a result, he is poorer but happier, and he is perhaps a living embodiment of the notion that health and peace of mind beat wealth and angst. At least for the older man.