For Earth Day I had decided it would be a great idea to do an annual "State of the World" address - with issues both environmental and societal brought into one context with the aim to bring all audiences all of the major news at once. I will do one next year and it will be my first State of the World piece - it turns out (and would have) that it will require even more research than I was ready for. I was planning on covering things continent by continent and to be honest never made it past Africa. I may still spend some quality time on the African struggle in the near future.
As a sidebar regarding that - its obviously very important to volunteer and get involved where you can - however I urge caution in just how you want to volunteer. There are plenty of groups that will sponsor sending a group of people into a slum to build or repair houses - only to have the locals fix the frankly appalling work these "guilt tourists" did. Know what you skill set is and contribute in the best way you can. If that means money, so be it. If you've got quite the following on social media and you know how to brand, raise awareness for a cause.
My next blog was cancelled in part because of a need to do a massive amount of research but in truth I have struggled as a result of a continuing battle with depression. The difficult part about it would seem to be its unpredictable nature and the utter soullessness of it all. Recently, a friend posted an incredible column written by Andrew WK, in which he details his own fight with it. I like to think of myself as a very talented writer yet was frankly aghast at how eloquently he described something I've been battling for as long as I can remember. The long and short of it (if you don't feel like clicking through) is that you don't feel bad or sad or even angry - you just feel like absolutely nothing and nothing brings you peace. The suggestions from all manner of people, some well-intended and some less interested, are typically twice as bad and only add to the guilt of what you're feeling.
"Snap out of it."
"Do something you like."
"Let's go out."
I can tell you that absolutely nothing fills the void. Everything you own or could afford to own offers no hope of peeling away the guilt that surrounds you. I've found that what gets me past it is watching funny videos on YouTube - and not anyone's suggestions but the same shit I watch when I go to sleep (typically The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, or 8 out of 10 Cats does Countdown). This is seemingly appropriate as an accurate way of describing your day when you're depressed is "sleeping." There is just a void and you make some fairly self-destructive decisions that completely change depending on who. Easily the most frustrating part is the seemingly random points that it shows up. Out of the blue you can decide you're a waste of life and should give everything anybody has ever given you back.
I can say that my own bouts have become much less severe - but that's not to say they don't happen.
Rather famously, some of our most beloved comedians have suffered from depression and typically end their lives far too soon. What we are feeling is seen as a failing of ourselves personally. The true idea of "free will" is primarily at fault for this as we are told that we need to stop being such a pussy, pick ourselves up, and toughen up. The unfortunate truth is these tired old excuses typically further the guilt and drive some people to making that final decision. The reason so many of the funniest people we know suffer from this is their unwavering commitment to make people feel better as a result of their unique appreciation of the human smile. Behind every joke and every great intention is years and years of pain that we are trying to validate.
There are two key pieces of good news for those of us that suffer. The first is that people are becoming more and more aware of mental illness here in the information age. The second is that science is moving further and further along to understand the condition - including some modern breakthroughs on the effects of gut bacteria (unfortunately, fat depressed people have it the worst of all ways - society hates us from two different directions for what is seemingly related).
So what can I say after all of this? Just be nicer to each other. Its not hard. You have no idea what the person on the other side of the counter is going through.