News Flash: Life Is Hard and No One Gets Out Alive

January 20, 2010 at 4:07 am | Posted in Philosophical Problems | Leave a comment

In other news, it has recently come to my attention that life is hard and the human condition is no picnic.

I realized this over the Christmas break. Recently, a friend remarked, “You make it sound as if you’ve cornered the market on depression, when a lot of what you talk about in your blog is normal.” I was genuinely surprised. My feelings are normal? I was absurdly disappointed.

Of course, the more I thought about this, the more it made sense. Recent events have brought it to my attention that even the people that I admire most struggle. They are often lonely and sad, and find it difficult to communicate with their fellow creatures. Humbling, that.

It’s also strangely reassuring. I am not alone; I’m not even especially unique. When I first began this blog, it puzzled me that so many non-bipolar people identify with the emotions I describe. Lately I’ve been thinking that anyone in my circumstances would feel unhappy, lonely and sad. (Well, ungrateful wretches like me, in any case.) My behavior is sometimes strange — for instance, I have a morbid fear of smiling and meeting people’s eyes — but the emotions that drive that behavior are standard-issue human feelings.

I’ve always maintained that bipolar disorder is best understood as an intensification of normal life. Depression and mania may be quantitatively different from normal ups and downs, but they aren’t qualitatively different. I find this strangely reassuring. I often tend to think of myself as a tragic, hopeless case. In fact, the normal life I long for may be both closer and more difficult than I’m willing to admit.

That’s all for now. I also banged out the long post below, and I’m getting tired of staring at a computer screen. Without a doubt, the Internet is the television of my generation.

Love to all.

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