Are You Depressed If Things Are Actually Sad?
I’m not depressed. Everything else is. The latest shrink handbook (the DSM-5) says that a mental disorder is a disturbance in an individual’s cognition. And this is not what’s happening here. I’m cogitating just fine. It’s the world that’s gone mad.
Lately I feel terribly sad, as I should. Things are actually terrible. As the DSM says (and it’s not a Bible), “an expectable or culturally approved response… is not a mental disorder.” It’s expectable to feel sad when your own country, world, and planet are falling apart. It’s culturally approved where I live, everybody’s been protesting for months. Where I live people still ask ‘how are you?’ but nobody answers ‘fine’.
The truth is that we’re living through a Greater Depression, and people are going to take it personally. Weak, abused countries like Sri Lanka and Afghanistan have already collapsed, but it’s really just a timing difference. We’re living in the interregnum before the mother of all economic crashes, and it’ll affect everyone in turn.
If the economic crash doesn’t get you, war is spreading, not to mention the perennial plagues we’ve brought upon ourselves. If you’re still standing a few decades hence, congratulation, the climate itself is fucked and heaven and earth will be moving.
These might sound like warnings to you but then I guess you’re just lucky. As William Gibson said ‘the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed’. My country’s economy has already crashed. War is already in Ukraine and Ethiopia and Myanmar, besides the usual American besieging and couping. COVID might feel over for you, but it’s choking thousands of people to death on the daily.
People talking about the end of the world used to be deemed crazy, but now someform of collapse is the only realistic heuristic. Social deviant ‘doomerism’ is rapidly becoming the only sane response to a world gone mad. Even if you’re not directly affected, the regular media diet has already become mentally toxic. People are supposed to hear about children being gunned down in school and what? Feel fine? Shit is traumatizing.
We’re used to thinking of mental illness as just ‘feeling blue’, but that’s not what it means. Sometimes you should feel sad. Sometimes you should feel anxious. Mental illness is feeling those things when you shouldn’t (whatever that means, mental illness is not very well defined).