At first I think depression is caused by a chemical imbalanced. I personally know that the few times I get depressed it seems to come from nowhere and tends to be related to weird excito-toxin foods I had previously eaten. But upon further thought regarding young people, I feel that young people shouldn’t be depressed. They have their entire life to look forward to. They are at the stem cell point in life where the options of paths to take is more varied than ever in life. Yet it is young people who are most plagued with suicide and serious depression. What is the problem here?
All too often, young people live in families where they do not have any support for their passion or aspirations. And frequently it’s not just a lack of champions but also receive downright cruelty and abuses of varying form. Many young people don’t receive love or when they do it’s actually transactional. Reciprocation is healthy whereas transactional is when love is withheld until you do what the other wants.
Without a solid, loving, compassionate, understanding, supportive family, many people born in toxic families isolate themselves or seek companionship from a friend group or dead-end relationships. This is natural … if your family fails you seek family elsewhere. However without healthy examples, the friend-groups or relationships tend to be foolish, incomplete and toxic. Indeed people seek out relations that emulate what they know. Few have learned to develop the confidence to say “no” to energy suckers and realize they deserve better.
In having deep conversations and hearing the life stories of many people I began seeing a repeat archetype:
A person comes from toxic family where they receive no support. They go to school where the other kids (usually from toxic situations as well) are cruel and likewise do not support eccentricities or being authentic. Many teachers are jaded and forced by higher bureaucracies to teach according to constricting standardized tests leaving little room for organic expression or interaction — further stifling authentic creative expression. Peer groups usually force uniformity to the arbitrary rules of “fitting in” such as wearing certain clothes, picking on certain people, liking/disliking the same things. A person fears breaking from the peer norms for fear of being relegated to a lower rung of the social order … or perhaps no rung at all.
The landscape often doesn’t provide inspiration or outlets either. The city, suburban and even sub-rural environment is a hard, manicured, contrived reality. Organic things like weeds growing in mono-culture grass; animals like coyotes who might eat fluffy; and fruit trees which make messes on sidewalks are all eradicated. The creative expression of Nature herself is suppressed by the collective human desire for control and conformity. Nature is trimmed, chemically treated and put in straight lines just like the human body in the media. Many have lost the ability to walk out their backdoor into wildness. There is no common access between houses, thus requiring a person to walk great distance on concrete near rushing cars in order to access the remaining parcels of undeveloped land. It is past the end of the sidewalk where they can warm their soul with the sound of red-wing black birds, the glimpse of a timid deer or elusive coyote; where the wind blows freely it’s subtle wisdom. Where the makeup of homogeneity is washed away by the wild rain. Where you can put your hands upon the ground, observe a square inch of soil and witness the completeness of life and death in an instant. Multiple animals, insects, moss, lichen, plants all in your hand … not found in the manicured parks or regulated lawns. The soil of authentic reality sifting through your fingers. It is here where we realize the magic of existence. The beauty of even the most mundane. It is here — in “demure” nature — where you can sit on a rock or nurse log, lay upon the grass or lean on a tree, look to the freeing sky and dissolve into nothing/everything beneath you. It is here where you are accepted and can express your authentic self. It is here where you find the nourishing support of Nature.
But alas with continuing mindless development gobbling the last remaining wild lands for the sake of linear progress, young people have dwindling access to these places of acceptance and expression. While critically valuable, National and state parks are usually distant and not something people can walk to every day.
Even for the lucky people who have access to the now piecemeal wilderness, many have been instilled a fear of Nature. A fear of people (criminals), animals (coyotes, cougars), insects (ticks, mosquitoes), plants (poison oak), themselves (injury, getting lost). This fear comes from a toxic family, ignorant friends, alarmist news and dramatized pop-culture. I lament the people who fear the wilderness which is the antidote to their existential despair.
Those who come from unsupportive families, surround themselves with vampire friends, and live isolated from Nature … look for answers as they drink the kool-aid when it comes to institutional careers…
Except for the outliers of society, there is no doubt we need money to live in our modern society. There are two ways most people pursue this … hourly jobs or salaried careers. With the later being the better of the two paths because at least there is space for respect and upward mobility but it is nonetheless an hourly job in disguise. Young people who are unsure of a career path turn to jobs to satisfy the need for money. But most jobs they get are dead-end, useless, mundane work in artificial environments which will eventually be replaced by robots and computers. To compound the purposeless jobs they find themselves, they often have the archetypal authoritarian boss who yet again suppresses authentic expression. When it comes to hourly jobs you are admitting to selling your precious time and life … aka selling your soul. If we follow the logic where the end goal is simply to get paid for your time (life), then we can conclude that speeding up time until it no longer existed would be ideal. This is seen with workers watching the clock and who can’t wait for 5pm or the weekend to come. In other words they are saying “I want to throw away the majority of my life in order to have money and the precious few hours at the end of the day and week to really live”.
What is seldom taught in school, mentors and family is entrepreneurialism. While the mundane still exists in being self-employed, you have the freedom to go wander whenever you want, talk to who you want, express yourself however you see fit and live the life you want to life. If you are like me, you might pet the crow sitting on your desk. Contrary to hourly workers, an entrepreneur wishes time would slow down. This is a healthier perspective and is indicative of a life well lived. Live life where you wish time would slow down instead of speed up.
Over 160,000 people under the age of 25 commit suicide each year and is one of the leading causes of death among young people. What is the antidote to this?
Personal spiritual foundation.
Access to Nature.
Learning to say “no” to the wrong things and “yes” to the right things.
Outlets to express their authentic selves.
Choosing the path of transmuted anger instead of paralyzing sadness.
Personal Spiritual Foundation
For many young people, the older authoritarian religions of yore do not resonate for good reason. But without a replacement for spirituality, many resort to agnosticism. But even with their atheism, they approach it without passion. At least the passionate atheists have purpose in the dogma of logic and ironic absurdism.
But without a passionate personal understanding of spirituality, life can seem meaningless and purposeless. Reading self-help books and diverse perspectives on spirituality can plant the seeds of formulating your own spirituality; but what is most important is creating your own spiritual experiences. Seek out what can only be called “magic”. The synchronicity between friends and loved ones. How music creates emotions. How dance is liberating. How a sunset or natural vista is inspiring. How the unity of a sperm and egg can create a whole new being. The relation we have with animals. The feeling of compassionate Love. You will find your own spirituality when you seek out that which cannot be explained but only experienced.
Access To Nature
Wild nature is the best place to experience this unexplainable magic of profound truths. Nature is where we came from … our original parents and oldest ancestor. Consequently the compassionate Love and acceptance we experience in Nature fulfills us. It is here where you recharge your energy, let go of negative attachments, express your authentic self and derive the deepest wisdom.
Learning To Say No. Learning To Say Yes.
Learning to say “no” specifically to people who are toxic is important for living a harmonious life. People who cause self-doubt, drama, trauma and co-dependence are energy suckers and drags … but also powerful teachers. With the lessons of how to stand in your own authentic power.
Sometimes a person will need to go through social catharsis and remove toxic people from their lives. Saying “no” to certain supposed friends. Changing schools to where you don’t know anyone and can reinvent the social expectations others have of you. Or moving to a different town to get away. Sometimes drastic circumstantial shifts are needed to rid one’s life of toxic people and situations. The key however is to not repeat the mistakes of the past self. No longer will you accept disrespect, lack of support, degradation, abuse or irresponsibility from your family, friends or mate. With new people and new life with less precedent as the entrenched people of past, it is easier to stand in your authentic power.
Conversely people who come from toxic situations often fear success or lack confidence. Many think they “are not good enough” for a perfect mate, fulfilling career or ideal location. When people doubt themselves they say “no” to things which would empower their life and “yes” to things that drag them down. Thus relegating themselves to a life which confirms of a faulty paradigm of disrespect and drama. Rejection happens whether asking a beautiful person for a date or trying to close a sale with a big client. For people with toxic backgrounds, they use this rejection as confirmation that they are unworthy and retreat into a contracted state. However success is created from grit and perseverance. Eventually someone will say yes! But you will only find out if you devote enough time and have many doors slammed in your face without loosing hope. An example is where someone buys land to mine for gold — and after spending much money and many years — yield nothing. They quit, liquidate the equipment and move away. The next person who bought the land found the richest gold vein just a few feet over from where the previous people where digging. Opportunity happens for people who devote themselves and never give up hope even after heartbreak and disappointment.
Sometimes when life seems meaningless, purposeless or dead-end … enough for them to consider suicide … a person just needs to make a radical shift. Sometimes it can be simple like changing the way you dress but other times it can mean selling everything, changing your contacts and moving across the globe. By making such drastic changes you are more likely to break things loose. To start the life you want rather than staying in a non-fulfilling stagnant situation.
One of the most detrimental things for young people is a lack of creative outlets to express themselves. Art, music, writing, outdoor recreation and dance are all outlets than need to be cultivated. Without healthy outlets like these, the pure creative energy get’s stagnant and spoils into self-destructive behavior such as indiscriminate sex, drugs, alcohol, addictions, peer pressure, delinquency or risky behavior resulting in injury and heartbreak. In hearing the stories of people who went through tumultuous younger years, I have found that efforts by parents and teachers to suppress these behaviors through shame, fear or punishment just creates further entrenchment of the self-destructive behavior. These impulsive actions are pursued to fill the void of organic improvisational spontaneity they lack in their daily life. The antidote to these risky behaviors with their “exciting” appeal is to give young people fulfilling outlets for their creative energy and supporting the eccentric experimentations with understanding wise guidance.