Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Today was even more useless than yesterday, so this evening I decided it was time to be cheerful already. I took a hot shower, made some chamomile tea, and attempted to bake a sweet potato and some oatmeal cookies. I turned the thermostat up to a scandalous 72 degrees, turned on all the lights, and put on the Schubert cd I have out from the library. I curled up in a ball by my favorite heat vent. I called my sister repeatedly till she got home, and then we talked for over an hour.

It worked out pretty well.

It's lead me to thinking about all the predictable things that have a big impact on my ability to deal with depression. Here are the ones I thought of, in a pretty good approximate order of impact:

Lack of exercise
Lack of social contact
Lack of quiet moments
Lack of light
Lack of being outside
Lack of dancing
Lack of music

And of course, there are the episodic things that can make it flare up and be harder to control:

Physical trauma
Negative social contact
Difficult internal goings-on, like some new insight about myself that sucks

One thing that I haven't sorted out--ironically, for a Marxist--is what to think of the profound impact material goods can have on psychological functioning. I read once that, after the point of having enough that you aren't worried about subsistence, happiness doesn't correlate to absolute material wealth at all--only to relative material wealth in the society you're in. I wish I remember where I read that, since I have no idea if it's true.

So many things are made so much easier by a little bit of money. . . it almost makes it look like money could really solve things like depression--but it can't. Material resources offer the possibility that material problems can be solved--but there are attendant challenges. Sometimes the psychological problems that arise with wealth are as serious as the physical ones they've replaced.

One IAF thing I really like is the iron rule: Never do for others what they can do for themselves. Following this rule creates localized autonomy, a sense of accomplishment, and actual accomplishments--things that can really help with a problem like depression. I think that's key to the material resources issue, with depression especially; they can only help insofar as people are also given a real opportunity to do what they can for themselves.

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