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Eric Renderking Fisk | First published on The Indy Experience: November 19th, 2003

Plea for help...

An Indy Experience (and now Fedora Chronicles) reader (who asked to be called “Cats” for the sake of anonymity) wrote to me on October 16, 2003 and told me that she was in real trouble with depression. She told me that after her medication ran out, she found herself in emotional turmoil.

“I had a breakdown this week basically, I missed 2 days last week of my medicine then had withdrawal on Thursday, then Sunday I lost it.”

When I asked her if she was going to be ok, she said she hoped so: “i am trying to work through it, i finally went to school today. I have been hiding for 3 days. Did nothing but eat, sleep, watch TV and cry.”

She then asked me for any help I could offer because nothing she tried was helping, and at this point she would try anything. She gave me the impression that medication isn’t the answer because of how it made her feel and how she felt worse when her medication ran out.  She realized her body was addicted to the medication, which is not even supposed to happen according the research online and in books.  A person is not supposed to get addicted to a depression medication, and have to be on it for years. 

“It is supposed to correct the problem, then the patient is supposed to come off of it”, is what she was told.

She asked me for my advice; she was desperate for any ideas to make her feel human again. Nothing she’s tried has worked. Fact is, I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV or the Internet; although it’s an issue that I have some experience with. I’ve never been as depressed as Cats, but I have had some bouts of depression. My way out of it is the “Tough Love-yourself” approach.  Also, to keep this current with the Jones theme here on TIE… I’ve added some thoughts on how our hero doesn’t let anything get in his way and how he could easily let himself get depressed and discouraged.

Depression’s symptoms are the sign of a sick and hungry soul.

There isn’t anything that I can point to that proves that the cause of depression is a spiritual disease and not just a mental one… but I believe it’s true nonetheless. In my personal opinion, Depression is a modern phenomenon, which has been brought on in epidemic proportions from various factors – pollution, additives and preservatives in the food we eat, combined with an inactive physical and spiritual life.

If anything, Depression is the way of the soul telling you that it’s hungry for something more then what this world has to offer. It’s a condition that becomes worse when we don’t know how to find the cure for this “soul sickness” and we dismiss the answers that faith has to offer. Depression, in many cases, is the soul telling you it’s seeking answers to life’s big questions and we seem to reject the Answers that the Bible and God has to offer. Yet, that’s the FIRST answer I would ask anyone to pursue, not the last, nor the one to be avoided. I’m an advocate of Faith, and not the rituals of Religion. I would encourage anyone to actively pursue a relationship with The Almighty. There is no harm in trying prayer.

Society’s roll in Depression.

There are also many other causes of Depression; the one of the biggest in my opinion is society. We all seem to take a part in trying to “normalize” other people into societies norms that are both negative and positive. Deep within each of us we have (or once had) a vision of how we wish we could live our lives, and do so within rules of civility such as the Ten Commandments. There are few of us who actually live in ways we really wish we could, and therefore we pigeonhole ourselves in the roles we assume society wants us to play. We live incomplete lives and we don’t seek who or what God intended for us to be. Resulting in some folks being surprised that they become depressed.

We’re all anxious to find ways of being popular in our many social groups that we compromise our true selves trying to fit in. In my experience as we try so hard to fit in and be popular that we are seen as those who are “selling out” and actually, instead, become less popular. It’s only when we “be who we really are” do we find "being popular” is a secondary (or non-existent) concern and only then do find folks with whom we are “popular” and “fit-in” with. Thus proving again that Depression isn't just a mental disease; it's a spiritual and social disease. 

Feeding the Demon of greed.

Materialism is also a contributor to Depression. Through Pop Culture and Commercialism, we are lead to believe that our emptiness can be filled with things that we don’t really need.  Advertisers show women that when they buy the right cosmetics they’ll be able to attract the right guy; while men are taught through ads that to be a “real man” you need to buy the right car or truck, and that all other social issues can be cured by having the right clothes coupled with the right look.

Material things are only shallow, exterior, and don’t do anything to help what’s hurting inside. When my father suffered his heat attack last spring, I went to the local shopping mall to get him something he needed during his stay at the hospital. While I was driving around I saw people of all ages and all economic groups driving intently on getting things they thought they needed. I was struck by the notion that our lives are being lived in vane. We work hard to buy the things we need while we don’t take account for the important people in our lives.

I wonder, how many people who I saw at the parking lot that day were truly happy and not just filling out their obligation to society as consumers? How many of them are really doing their true life’s work? Suddenly, at that moment, I realized that the vast majority of us are rats in a maze and we have yet to realize that the cheese is rotten and no good.

We’re working ourselves into early graves to do more than provide the basics for our families and us: we’re trying to fill our societal roles as consumers and trying to feed our spiritual sickness with earthly things. Even collecting and wearing items of the Jones “Raiders Outfit” isn’t much of a fix or a cure. Sure, getting a new fedora or jacket might do the trick for a short while, but after the euphoria and the novelty wears off, you’re still just the same person as before… only now you have a cool jacket or fedora.

Nothing takes the place of actually doing something or going somewhere and becoming active in an activity that’s “Raiders-esque”. Perfect real world example of this is when Senior Web-master Aaron went white-water rafting with his Akubra, he hasn’t come down from that natural high since. [I wouldn’t be surprised if he brought along a blond singer just to say to him “I hate the water, I hate being wet… and I hate you.”]

Don’t let a little thing like Evil get in your way.

Out of the three flicks, Raiders of The Lost Ark is the best example of how someone who has every reason to quit doesn’t. Jones shows us how not to allow the small stuff get in the way or let it get us depressed.

In the beginning after the Idol was taken from Jones by Belloq and he narrowly escapes the spears of a few dozen, his first thoughts where how to get it back, selling some of the smaller (but GOOD) pieces he picked up along the way. At this point, a lesser man would have shrugged his shoulders and tried to forget about the wrong done to him. Instead, his eyes are on traveling to Marrakech before Army Intelligence got in the way with quest to find a greater prize.

Through out all of Raiders as he’s going after the Ark, Jones has a string of near misses… each one worse then the one before with the exception of when he thought Marion was killed in the truck explosion. All the while he’s blaming himself for her death, he still has to go on and finished what he started. Although it can be debated that he didn’t know or believe in the power of the Ark he continues.

After he learns that Belloq and company has a copy of the Head piece to the Staff of Ra… he continues.

After the Ark was stolen from him after he recovered it (again… a reoccurring theme in his life – Belloq is there at the right moment to take everything from him at the last possible second) Jones was locked in the Well of The Souls. He manages to escape and sets off to take it back. After a narrow escape like that anyone would be hard-pressed to not quit… yet he continues.

After a chase through the desert, getting shot in the arm and getting dragged by a truck and gets the ark back… Belloq steals it again. With the back-and-forth action of the Ark, it would be enough to make anyone take a cocktail of Bromide, Prozac and Zanax. Jones never lets the situation get him down. When the Ark finally gets in the hands of the governments “Top Men”, there’s little more he can do but call the Bureaucratic fools what they are and he’s left to move on with his life. He doesn’t dwell on what happens… he just goes off with his College-Sweetheart for “a drink”.

Jones teaches us never to quit or dwell on how bad things are. He keeps going. It’s a lesson we need to learn, because the stakes are too high to quit. Jones never quit… he never got depressed, and neither should you.

Preventative Medicine – Mind, Body, Soul Approach.

The first thing you have to do to get better is get some faith under your belt. There’s more to church then just prayers and hymns. Trying to find a relationship with The Almighty, and search for the answers to the cosmic questions about the origins of life and your place in the Universe are the noblest things we can do.

As I said before, most Depression is a spiritual disease and the only thing that’s going to permanently cure that is the spiritual Doctor himself; God.

First. Find a Church where you feel most comfortable and get to know the people there.

Second. Take a good look at active people and notice that active people never seem to be depressed. Could be that they are too busy to stop and think about something to be depressed about?  Truth is, people with active lives have something more then just being busy- being active releases endorphins and other hormones that help us feel good.  In addition, getting into shape not only makes us look better, but also makes it easier to do daily chores. People who are physically active hold themselves better and have and outward glow about them for these reasons. Bodies in motion not only tend to stay in motion but also have fewer opportunities to be in the dumps.

Third.   As difficult as this may sound and perhaps the hardest of all to do is that you have to remove the negative elements of your life.  Distance yourself from people at work, school and, perhaps, in your family who are dragging you down and are causing negativity in your life.  Removing the television and getting rid of cable might also be a step in the right direction, with the exception of movies on cassette or on disk; it’s 40% ads, anyway.

Finally, there are no real easy answers in fighting depression. It’s a step in the right direction to take charge of what’s going on with your own mental, physical and spiritual health. Knowing that’s it’s easier to say “get over it” than to actually get on top of it and then beyond the depression.

The solution is removing our own self-centeredness from the picture. Too many of us our living our lives with our hyper-defined sense of self and what’s good for us than spending our time chasing things or feelings that are nonessential to a life will lived. Being good and living a good life should be the obvious conclusion; an outward expression of putting first things first and not just seeing the bigger picture, but also, living within the big plan that God has for us. Life shouldn’t be about being self-absorbed but about being a part of something greater then ourselves… it’s a spiritual “Thinking Outside The Box” approach as well.