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July 25, 2012 at 4:30 PMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Grasping At Hope In The Darkness

By E.M. Wollof from SLN More Blogs by This Author

"Rules for Happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for."

-Immanuel Kant

A recent article in Molecular Psychiatry brings to light (future pun intended) the theory that excess exposure to light during the night may be responsible for the rapid increase in global severe depression.

How did they attempt to prove this? As usual, they tortured adorable rodents in the hopes that people continue to believe that we all respond in the same manner to stimuli that a furry creature the size of a human fist would.

hope4The experiment consisted of two groups of female hamsters (as human females are more prone to severe depression), both were exposed to 16 hours of "daylight," one had complete darkness for 8 hours (control), and the other was exposed to dim light for 8 hours. This dim light was meant to mimic the light pollution that 99% of the global population lives under on a nightly basis, relatively speaking of course.

The researchers found that the hamsters who were under the light lost interest in sugar products and, when thrown into water, showed less effort to survive than the control group.

So, real quick before I lose all hope in science, how exactly does working with a hamster under dim light during a protracted sleep period (in hamster time), robbing them of any rest during the day by throwing them into water, and being super sad face that they won't suck on sugar cubes because they are too tired, prove anything about humanity?

I tell you what, if some crazy scientist stuck me in a cage and stared at me all night, sleep would be rather difficult. If that same scientist who robbed me of sleep threw me into water the next day to see how I would react, and then fed me sugar cubes to "make everything cool bro," I would be depressed as well.

As this experiment is yet another colossal waste of money and an even more depressing signifier of our decaying education system, I will refrain from speaking of it any longer for fear that my excess light induced depression will take complete control of me.

A Glimmer

Does anyone really need a scientific discovery about why the world is growing ever more depressed?

If you answered yes, please start at the top of the next paragraph and proceed with care. If you hope3answered no and are sticking with whatever you are being fed by "reputable sources," please leave now and never come back. If you raged at the mere posing of the question, if it burns you that even a shred of humanity may not be willing to accept a truth that is so obvious to you, I welcome you and hope that you are directing your anger at changing minds and not movie-goers looking for heroes in a world devoid of them. I'll see you at the end.

There is a fair amount of evidence that points to environmental factors like light contributing to depression, but I don't think that is enough. I believe that no matter how hard we try to ignore the world outside our own, it gets in. Whatever you may believe, we are all tied together by a force and we are all bound by a future of our collective thought. There is no escaping that fact.

With that being said, how do we not feel sorrow when we see global unrest? The world is in revolt against itself. Countless economies fluctuate and rock on the precipice of ruin, so much so that global money stores are running thin just to cover the eventual collapse. We see it all around us, it just doesn't seem as clear through the haze of hyper-sexual, ultra-violent products pitched to us on a daily basis.

When we do see what is happening, we speak clearly and with faux confidence that there is nothing that we could do to change it. What we don't realize is that the more we use this justification, which has become quite often, the more we fill ourselves with a sense of hopelessness.

This hopelessness is against our nature! We don't take the cage of fear lightly. We rebel against it with all our might, but when we look out and see a world in constant conflict (Yes, constant conflict, not just our narrow American view of it either, but a global view. Our world rarely knows peace, so much so we have forgotten what global peace and unity even look like, if we did at all.) that feeling of hopelessness creeps slowly into the fabric of our very being.

Where do we turn in our time of need? Where do we go to find solace from the hopeless nature of our daily tedium?

I say to you now, as I have done numerous times before, we must look inward. We must find that deep seeded and ever growing well of hopelessness and make friends with it, for it is only after recognizing what a world without hope looks like that we can start to hope again. That's right people, understand that there is no seeing the light without first embracing the darkness.

hopeTake a good look at the life you lead, an actual look, not some cursory glance where you recoil at what you see and cower amongst the tower of products that provide comfort without happiness, and find a way to quench your desire for hope that is outside your normal purview.

Take some time to find a mind to interact with, and NOT THROUGH A COMPUTER. There is no "social" to be found through a computer my fellow humans, I assure you something gets lost in the translation. When you find this mind, see yourself in it, allow it to give you perspective, to remove you from the doldrums' of selfish depravity that depression cages you in.

For it is only in the mind of a fellow human that you can find reason for your truth. If you remove yourself from this than all you become is a cyclical reasoning machine, your own thoughts betraying their initial purpose due to lack of direction.

Yes, this exact reasoning may be what you are all thinking you do now, but you get lost in it. You get lost in what you are told until it becomes what you think and we end up where we are now. In order to break free from the chains that bind us to our sadness we must first acknowledge that they are our own, they belong to no one else.

While it is all well and good to think there are others just like you, there aren't. There is no other you, you're it! In this light allow yourself to shine, allow yourself to change thought processes, and, most importantly, allow your light to be seen. Do not shield it from view, do not scamper away at the slightest criticism of its glow, and never be ashamed of its hue, for you have made it that way...bear it with pride.

Nothing will change if we do not first change the way we think. Do not rebel, for it is the bastard son of conformity and will leave you broken in the trail of those who would step on your ideals. Instead, embrace the truth that brings you hope and watch the world unfold beneath your feet.

"Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they are going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be."

                                                      -J.D. Salinger ((Holden Caufield) Catcher In The Rye)

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  • This was just really beautifully written, E. You bring up a lot of interesting and thought-provoking points and while I must admit, I don't agree with all of them, in particular, I appreciated the idea of the collective consciousness' role in the depression epidemic.

    When I see pictures of children starving to death and read about people living in abusive situations or areas of constant war, it's hard not to feel guilty for the things I have and the things I'm not doing to help. Do I REALLY need several pairs of shoes, and pants and dresses? Do I really need more food than rice and beans? The money I spend on the things I don't actually need could make many lives much better. I could be working to organize and fight injustice rather than lounging around in my spare time. It's pretty shameful if I let myself think about it.

    If we all just lived with the things we need and with the understanding that we are all one collective organism, we wouldn't have these problems.There are so very many of us that understand that these things should not be happening and our numbers should make treating them absolutely possible. (yes, I'm a little bit of a socialist) But we're selfish. It's a difficult cause to fight against, because it requires that we fight against our natural tendency to think ourselves as separate, independent beings, and not only that it, it requires that we do this cooperatively. Hard to know just where to begin. Hard to not feel it's an unreachable goal.

    Ultimately though, I think it is clear that many of the things we are doing and the way we are doing them are desperately outdated. I'm not sure if working to change this is the best short-term relief option for someone dealing with major depression, but certainly the long-term is something we should be considering. Time to use our collective intelligence and build a better way of living!

  • Thank you.

    The goal is plenty reachable, but the road will be terrible and costly to many who think themselves on the side. The key is not regretting that some suffer, but to make it count for something, make it mean something, and make sure that it is never forgotten.

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