Depression is a lot like god in reverse. Let me tell you what I mean by that.
Many people (especially on social media) get really mad at anyone who says anything like “depression is fake”.
Yes, clinical depression is probably real, however, the social media mobs miss the point of the “depression is fake” idea.
The human brain interprets reality based on its perception.
We do not see absolute reality. We see our perception of it.
For example, when the baby cries, the mother comes and feeds him.
The baby may think that him crying produces milk in his mother’s breasts.
The baby doesn’t know how the human body works. All he knows is that crying will get him breast milk.
Of course, we know that crying doesn’t produce milk, it just lets the mother know the baby is hungry.
The question is, what difference does it make to the baby? His “incorrect” beliefs are working just fine for him.
What does this have to do with depression or god?
Speaking intellectually, the idea of a god or a “self-conscious higher power” is probably false.
The reason smart people believe in god is that the concept of god is very useful.
The idea that a god exists gives humans strength and hope in times when there is no objective reason to have strength or hope.
If you don’t believe me, interact with some people who are going through difficult times.
Talk to a woman who lost a young child and you’ll find that the only thing that kept her going was her faith in god.
I’ve seen kids who claim to be atheists pray to god right before a big exam.
If you talk to people who recovered from alcohol addiction and they’ll often say they were only able to quit because of the strength given to them by god.
Here’s a quote from The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg:
“One group of researchers at the Alcohol Research Group in California, for instance, noticed a pattern in interviews. Over and over again, alcoholics said the same thing: Identifying cues and choosing new routines is important, but without another ingredient, the new habits never fully took hold.
The secret, the alcoholics said, was God.
Researchers hated that explanation. God and spirituality are not testable hypotheses. Churches are filled with drunks who continue drinking despite a pious faith. In conversations with addicts, though, spirituality kept coming up again and again. So in 2005, a group of scientists—this time affiliated with UC Berkeley, Brown University, and the National Institutes of Health—began asking alcoholics about all kinds of religious and spiritual topics.
Then they looked at the data to see if there was any correlation between religious belief and how long people stayed sober.
A pattern emerged. Alcoholics who practiced the techniques of habit replacement, the data indicated, could often stay sober until there was a stressful event in their lives—at which point, a certain number started drinking again, no matter how many new routines they had embraced.
However, those alcoholics who believed, like John in Brooklyn, that some higher power had entered their lives were more likely to make it through the stressful periods with their sobriety intact.
It wasn’t God that mattered, the researchers figured out. It was belief itself that made a difference.”
Look, I’m not saying that this is proof that god exists.
In fact, god is very likely something people just came up with because the concept is just so universally useful.
Regardless of whether or not god exists, only a fool will argue that believing in god is not useful, especially when you can clearly see millions of examples of people using their belief in god to tide through rough tides without giving up, and people using their belief in god to boost their morale and resolve against all odds.
Beveling in god is useful, even if the belief is scientifically false.
Depression is the Reverse God
Depression is a lot like god in reverse.
Depression is probably real, but believing in it is anti-productive.
What is someone who says “I’m depressed” actually saying?
They are saying that they’ve given up!
They are saying that they’ve given up and are for practical purposes, held hostage by this “disease” that is outside of their control.
What do they do after they’ve admit they’ve given up?
They continue to live their shitty lifestyle day after day – spending hours on social media and YouTube every single day cooped up in their house.
Many of these people have zero friends or social life or anything going on for them and use their declaration of surrender (“I’m depressed”) as an excuse to not take action.
If I lived that lifestyle, I’d be depressed too.
The problem is not their lifestyle. The problem is that they choose to stay defeated and complain about being depressed instead of trying to fix it.
Now compare that to a guy who doesn’t believe in depression. He looks at his life and says, “I feel like shit. Maybe it’s because I don’t go out and spend all my time on my computer. I should call up some friends and go out a bit more”.
Tell me, which guy has a better chance of making things better for himself? It’s the one who thinks depression is bullshit and thinks that his life is in his hands.
Just like how believing in a god is useful, not believing in depression is useful.
This is something childish people who think “everything has to be factually correct” cannot grasp.
Humans are not machines. We are not robots. Your beliefs don’t have to be peer reviewed scientific studies – they have to be useful to you.
God is probably false but believing in god has time and time again proven to be a useful source of strength.
Depression is probably true but believing in depression evidently leads to you becoming a dork who’s crying all the time and wants to talk about feelings and do nothing useful.
Why would you believe in depression when the only thing that the belief can do for you is weaken you?
I don’t know about you, but as for me, I can’t be depressed because I don’t believe depression exists.
And if me believing depression is fake makes you angry, it’s because you’re a limp wristed dork and that’s your problem, not mine.
– Harsh Strongman