Brought down by the storm
From personal experience, an understanding of a mental illness epidemic specific to our times demands that we see it having a correlation with our knowledge of impending climate breakdown. Even if one does not associate it directly with their own problems with suffering from depression, the impossibility of being unaware of such a potentially historically-seismic happening means that it always acts as a clamp on our thought processes. This is unless one has mastered the art of denial and proceed to rejoice in their delusions.Oh yes, I’ve met people like this, who, because of the inconvenience it presents, deny that humankind is rapidly altering the systems that it depends on for civility and functioning. They tell me, whilst possessing gleaming smiles that convinces themselves they are in the right, that I too ought not to be concerned, that I should enjoy the now. Failing to acknowledge the effect that an inability to perceive a future worth living has on the ability for an individual ,who’s primary instinct is survival, to be able to relax and enjoy anything but anaesthetisation.
Of course depression is caused when the mind can only process thoughts that lead to dead ends. Perhaps these dead ends are the result of internal matters that build up, or perhaps they are a result of larger external matters that are out of ones control, yet have the capacity to determine ones life. But, most likely, the internal and external matters are so intertwined that trying to distinguish them for more than a few minutes each day becomes seemingly impossible.
Under capitalism, we are (analogically speaking) trapped in a house, from which no outside is conceivable. We have been told that this what life will always be like from now until eternity. The room is full of dead items, items that no longer have any meaning. This is the so called ‘end of history’. Perhaps it would be right to revise my argument that climate change causes depression; the depression is already to be found possessing the inhabitants roaming this dead space, where any kind of meaning or genuine emotion cannot be tracked down. The dead items are turning to tindersticks and the entire house is very vulnerable. Climate breakdown is, as of yet, a small fire which has broken out in this house, but it is spreading very rapidly. What can we do? All the things that make up this house merely make the fire grow bigger. It suddenly becomes apparent that the only way to stop this rapidly spreading fire can only be outside the house, in a place we cannot see nor reach. Already depressed inside the house, the fire now adds a sense of panic to the depression, where we don’t just see dead ends anymore, but now they seem to be moving rapidly towards us. Any hope that one may find a little bit of refuge within the house, where they can drink to forget, is squashed by the doom that is closing in. Depression via climate change becomes an increasingly powerful gravity on the mind. (the idea of the room with no windows is a take on John Holloway’s analogy of capitalism, in his book Crack Capitalism.)
I wrote this upon hearing of the mega storm ‘Sandy’ heading for the eastern coast of the USA. It seems obvious to me that inaction on attempting to deal with climate change/and (neoliberal) ‘business as usual’ won’t just put the planet of the brink of physical collapse, but will also put the human race on the brink of mental collapse. On a personal level, currently my (mental) levees are feeling a little overwhelmed at present despite of this (referring to the above analogy: the fear of climate breakdown just intensified this). These levees have been been sufficienty maintaining the rising tides due to the life I have lived for the past 5 years being a beta-blocker; not just knocking out the highs, but the lows too. Now, however, the game has been totally changed, but the player possibly isn’t as good at adaptating as he thought himself to be. Released from the safety net, taking a so-called ‘leap of faith’ can be liberating, for sure. But one should never stop listening to their own thoughts completely (mistaking pragmatism for pessimism) for the more positive tones of those around them. As well as being liberating, detatching oneself from a safety net can result in a freefall. Oh aye, and ‘am not t’compenent bloke thi al thowt a woh.