Depression is still so taboo in many societies, considered imagined, feigned or self-inflicted. Those who suffer from it often live stigmatised, ashamed, misunderstood, and/or often unsupported.
Just the kind of thing that upsets me. So I was surprised when I found myself pondering on a most curious question.
Are we all depressed? (I use the word loosely here noting that there are varying degrees of depression which affect everyone differently).
Certainly if we all were you’d think we’d show eachother more compassion and love and kindness.
Supposedly. Because suffering breeds compassion. It makes us more sensitive to the needs, hurt and vulnerability of other human beings.
Anyway, the question was triggered by a night out to theatre to see an acclaimed work of celebrated Russian playwright Anton Chekhov – Uncle Vanya at the Vaudeville Theatre.
The play follows the lives of Uncle Vanya and those who live and depend on their rural estate. Things appear quiet on the surface, and everyone seems at peace, except for Vanya who is miserable, always complaining and full of regret. He loves his someone else’ wife but she doesn’t return the love. He is criticised for what he suffers. Eventually, we see that something stirs beneath the smooth facade of calmness in this place. The glass shatters and the sad truth is alarming.
Despite everyone’s criticism of Vanya, they are all arguably depressed. Depressed about their ‘wasted’ lives. Wasted because they suffer from love…love which is unrequited, love for the past which will not return, and love for ideals which cannot be realised because…well they are merely ideals. They are no different from Vanya, he is only more opened than they are. Vanya tries to end his life. He fails and his equally burdened niece Sonya encourages him not to give in to despair but to keep on living and in the afterlife, ‘there will be peace.’
Acknowledging what we feel
The play was poignant, and most tragic, touching on our innermost depths and all the defeating and redeeming qualities that make us human.
In the end, I was left with more answers than questions. My companion however remarked that ‘it shows we’re all the same.’
And I consider it still. Are we really no different afterall? Do we really all suffer, longing for something, whatever it is to fill our empty lives and then reel in pain when it eludes us? Does it then render our lives wasted?
Are we all depressed?
In the characters I saw the different ways in which people mask depression. How we try to make sense of the world.
I’ve always said for all I know the world is depressed. Some of us are simply more honest about what we feel than others.
Gentle hugs 🙂
Depression Awareness Week is April 15-21. Don’t forget to support my drive to raise funds for Depression Alliance. Find out more here. Or you can simply go here to donate to this charity that’s helped me and millions of others.