By Roman King | U.S.
Note: “From the Editor” has been, generally speaking, where 71 Republic strays the farthest away from politics, deciding to delve more into thought provoking general topics intended to get the noggin jogging. This particular piece will stretch that envelope quite a bit. Enjoy.
The brain is an incredibly complex machination. The human brain, in one form or another, is responsible for every single collective and individual advancement, destruction, failure, and success the human race has ever seen. Scientists really can’t even calculate the raw computing power of the brain just because the brain has evolved to synthesize and not compute; as it stands currently, computers can easily out-calculate a human, but a human with a computer will ALWAYS out calculate the lone computer. The inner machinations of the human mind are an incredible enigma, almost unquantifiable by scientific standards. In short, the human brain is absolutely amazing, with the most intellectual potential of anything, organic or otherwise, on Planet Earth; you probably already knew that though. Why, then, would I list all of these impressive epithets about the power of the human intellect? It’s because this article isn’t going to be about those world-changing neuron sequences that have changed the course of human history; no, we’re going to talk about something that is incredibly uncomfortable to talk about, and something that, regardless of the amount of nuance you tackle it with, will never be able to be discussed properly. Despite this, I will throw my hat into the ring here on said topic: the brain can also be self-destructive in many forms; specifically in this article, it can fall to depression, anxiety, and other terrible things that can make the human suffer unspeakably, in ways a broken bone can only wish to injure.
The following section will be allegorical; it will mention the author’s specific experiences with depression and anxiety, the lows that it took the author to, and how it has worked to make the author a better person. The following may be sensitive to others who have experienced similarly. Please take care.
I, by all objective benchmarks, live a good life. I have potential talents in multiple fields of fine arts and the humanities that could grant me an incredibly enriching, enjoyable, and well-paying career. I have friends that support me, a family that loves me, and a roof over my head. There’s not much more that I, as a growing individual, could ask for. In a world where the human brain acted as a pure and just arbiter and collector of thoughts and ideas, I would be completely and utterly at peace. However, I am not, and that is because the human brain is my worst and only enemy.
Think of a standard fight-em video game; you progress, level by level, conquering and displacing your foes, continuing to grow in level and in success until you reach a boss battle you haven’t prepared for, and you crumble under pressure. Think of the brain as that boss battle. For five years I have waged mental war against myself. I am, at almost every moment of every day and night, simultaneously fighting and defending against my own mind, which seems to participate in active rebellion against me. For the most part, I can ward off the siege I beset myself to. Five years of battling myself; you would hope I would have figured out the other side’s tactics, and I can often wipe my brow and ignore the spectre that lurks over my shoulder when I go through my day-to-day tasks. But war never ends, and the mind never truly relents. My enemy hasn’t quit yet, and is always looking for a weak spot. Oh, and it finds them. Depression is truly relentless, and when it breaks down the defences and enters the fort, it shows no mercy.
I remind you again of all the blessing I have in my life; friends who I can enjoy a laugh with and express myself with; a family that, despite its problems, never ceases to support me and care for me; a roof over my head and three meals a day; a public school that provides me with free education; a company that employs me to do what I love the most for a larger audience. My mind, on nights when it wracks me with episodes of indescribable sadness and emptiness, takes all of these blessings, wipes them away, and replaces them with an unfathomable and unexplainable feeling of loneliness, worthlessness, dread, sadness, and emptiness. You can describe a broken arm, leg, or even a broken heart; you cannot describe the pain of a broken mind. There is nothing that can compare to it.
Make no mistake; it is very much a tangible and real pain. Yes, it is all in my head, but the brain inside my head exists, and it is seemingly determined to destroy itself, in a very real manner. It is not pretty. It is not poetic. There is nothing aesthetically pleasing about laying on a couch at 5 AM, having not slept, because the crippling desire to not exist anymore has made it so that your mind could not rest and could not sleep. It is very ugly, but it is also very real. It is tiresome to constantly carry a mental hundred-pound bag of bricks with you all the time. It is scary to have that spectre follow you wherever you go, and haunt everything, good and bad, that you’ve ever experienced. Worst of all, it is all of these negative emotions combined, and increased in intensity tenfold, when you realize that there is no reason for it to be happening, and seemingly no escape from it; from myself.
But, as there is with all things, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Believe me when I say that that light is almost always incredibly small, like a pinprick star in the night sky. Sometimes I even lie to myself and tell myself that there’s a resolution in sight, when in all reality my mind couldn’t be farther from that. Regardless, there is always a bigger picture, always something to cling onto. By God, there are some good things that I will not, by Hell or high water, let my mind destroy, and I believe that everybody that suffers this can do the same. Maybe it’s a particular person that means the world to you, and that you would take a bullet for. Maybe it’s a piece of music. Maybe it’s a wild dream upon the stars that you are utterly determined to achieve. When your mind breaches the inner walls and unleashes its attack, you must, by all counts, cling to this, and never let go, lest you lose your very will to go on. When the waters recede, you count your dead, and you measure the losses, the experiences you suffer through can, as paradox-ish as it sounds, make you a better person.
My inner war to find peace has crafted who I am today, in all of its good and bad. I am fiercely protective of both the people and ideas I care about and would do anything for them. I am creative and can express myself through writing in ways my voice can’t even dream of. I am, by standard metrics at least, smart, and I have been blessed with logic. I feel emotions very deeply and connect to them in an incredibly strong manner. On the offset, though, I can be jealous of those who have achieved happiness. I can be awkward and anxious. I can be, at times, too honourable for my own good. I can be a doormat. At the end of the day, however, that is what makes me who I am, and I would not be me without what I have learned from my mind battling itself. All that I can hope is that I can hold on and survive the war; then I will be able to look back upon it all, learn from it all, and finally achieve inner peace. With the way things are going right now, I think I’ll make it just fine.
It will be okay. And that, my friends, isn’t a lie.
Featured image credit: Salon Magazine