Old Man in Sorrow, Vincent van Gogh, 1890
In these wind-whipped and turbulent times, it is easy to forget. The klieg lights of the media are trained unstintingly on the violent carnival of paint-by-numbers Marxism and Maoism that is Black Lives Matter and their idiot cheerleaders, and the talk of the town is white guilt, that entirely spurious concept based – as Lionel Shriver shows brilliantly in The Spectator - on vanity and moral preening. There are, as the selfish and loud of voice constantly have to be reminded, other people around.
Depression is one of the desperate features of modern society and it should induce genuine guilt in those who choose to promenade their righteousness in front of the world. It is often misused. ‘I am so depressed’ often translates into the language of the real world a ‘I am so hungover – again’ or ‘my life has no point and I am too stupid and vain to see that my own failings and life-choices are why I am not the person I want to be and unrealistically believe I am supposed to and deserve to be’. Clinical depression can be exacerbated by, but is not equivalent to, the Kätzenjammer of last night’s piss-up or low self-esteem caused by self-inflicted failure.
But clinical depression is a reality, and for a lot of people. It can be treated by prescription drugs, and in itself this may be no bad thing. But even a cursory glance at America’s addiction to opioids is enough to make one realise that big pharma wins again, and it doesn’t exactly have the clinically depressed and their well-being in the forefront of its mind or its profit columns. A patient cured is a customer lost.
The alternative for many is self-medication, and this is to have a fool for a patient and a desperate person as a physician. Drink and drugs may afford a passing palliative, but the side-effects are often grossly out of proportion to any momentary cure, contributing only to a dreadful cycle of repetition and a waning sense of worth. A pharmacist once told me that no drug has side-effects, just a range of effects, one of which is the one you want.
Even in that halcyon age – just last year, for example – before the virus raged and the world went insane at the promptings of a psychotic rabble and their government and cultural and media enforcers, an awful lot of people were suffering from the silent killer that is depression.
The government will not help the afflicted. That is not what they see as their role. Depressed people are a statistic to keep the lid on for them, obsessed as they are with their own popularity. Any spare money in the increasingly holed pot is now going to fanatics, and those who do not shout loudest, or whose only shout is an outward scream of anguish, will find nothing left for them. The vile martinets screeching about black oppression neither see nor would wish to see an oppression that has been going on for decades, that of the mentally ill.
People, like myself, fortunate enough not to suffer from clinical depression, are being deflated and disillusioned by what is going on in this particularly vile epoch. One can only imagine how that is amplified in the minds of those already predisposed to take life’s slings and arrows hard.
So, then. A simple message. Be as good as you know how to be to those who are alone, no matter how difficult it is to side-step the absurd diktats about isolation that seem to apply to everyone who isn’t on a Black Lives Matter protest. The elderly, the ill, those you know suffer mental health problems, all of these people now have an extra battle in their ongoing war. This is a time that should bring out the neighbour in everyone, and I am sure I am not telling you anything you would not already realise and that you do not already act on.
There is no original message here. But when there is turmoil inside a human being, turmoil in the outside world can only make matters worse. All we can do, in a world increasingly dominated by barbarians – for this is what the new Puritans are, for all their pretended moral righteousness – is to make kindness not just our natural response to others, but a targeted resource to help those most in need of help. This may sound clinical and utilitarian, but it is community which aids the sufferer, not government. With the ever-increasing drain on health resources exacerbated by a ruinous immigration ‘system’, and the tendency of allocation of those resources to go to those with the sharpest elbows, the natural timidity which is the threadbare cloak of the depressive will not advance them in the lengthening queues for treatment. It is difficult to better the Biblical injunction (it often is) to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
If it is within reach of your arm, never let the depressed and mentally forlorn become a forgotten tribe, not exciting enough to be championed by the media and their perverse fascinations, and too much of a bother for those who have been put in place as their supposed guardians. Obviously, this is not intended as a diatribe against those who work in the mental health services, and I didn’t see too many of them making amusing Tik-Tok videos. Too busy dealing with the despair of others.
Sadness, a loss of hope, the apparent pointlessness of life and sheer existential despair result, on dire occasions becoming more numerous, in suicide, the savage god. This is not to say that the depressed are fatalistically bound to taking their own lives, but it is the shadow on the landscape.
So, if you have extra time, and without being intrusive and extravagant, look after your friends and your family who may be finding their circle in the world to be a dim, vast vale of tears – to quote the poet Shelley – and not the joyful passage we would all wish for ourselves.