Many people felt rather blue this week, feeling kind of sad and even hopeless. Each person had their own personal reasons for feeling depressed. I certainly wouldn’t want to underestimate depression’s depth of feeling nor challenge its force. It is my life’s work to help others untangle that mighty web that threatens to strangle a person’s sense of life. Yet, this depression had a collective aspect. This week, many people felt it.
It is mid-January. The excitement of the new year has worn off. In some places it is cold, or dark, or maybe rainy. These things do matter. Weather can affect your mood.
That being said where is the line between individual and collective moods?
It differs for each person, in every situation. It isn’t as important to create a general theory about where external influences end and internal forces begin as it is to believe in the significance of both.
Too often people forget that they are part of systems larger than themselves – families, communities, societies and, even, ecosystems. External influences whether they be social or environmental can affect our moods strongly, as can our biological proclivities as well as internal conflicts.
To feel better, or to cure a depression, it is important to locate and understand the external influences while also addressing the interiority of a bad or pained mood. Some things can’t be changed or controlled and a certain degree of suffering is a healthy component of the human condition. the part of it that any one individual can effect or change is often a fairly manageable task, especially if making use of the right support including but not limited to the verbal expression of talk therapy, the cognitive re-patterning of CBT, medication, exercise and diet.
In some ways, this can make the mountain of emptiness that often accompanies depression easier to conquer. Not all of it is under our control. Some piece of it has everything to do with dark days in January. The rest, that which comes from within, is a smaller piece that how it might otherwise feel.