We Convince Ourselves that Society’s Standard is the Only Standard to Live by

Photo Credit: Me- Breakfast in the diner at the truck stop near I-80.

I could have, and possibly should have used a different photo but I like breakfast. Each bite brings me happiness. I feel less and less sad emotion and more and more fat and full. I find myself overeating at times in hopes of consuming my emotions and digesting my despair.

I have weird thoughts but not like average weird thoughts. In my opinion average weird thoughts are ‘should I try this hot sauce on my cereal?’ or ‘Does it matter if my socks match?’

I’m talking shit that doesn’t make sense. An utter irrational thought process overpowering any rational thought I might have. My weird thoughts are more like ‘don’t go to the library that’s only .08 miles from home because something horrid may happen to you.’ ‘What if I panic in public and vomit everywhere?’ ‘I’m too scared to go to sleep because I might die.’

I often wish I were average. Then I remind myself I am. A great number of people experience depression. What used to be stuffed in a closet and never spoken of has become trendy.

Nowadays I think it’s fairly typical in Western Medicine to solve every symptom and every issue with a pill. As our nation becomes more hateful and depressed — antidepressant sales are soaring.

There is a great debate on medication. I’ve acquired this data from non-credible sources and personal discussions. Some refuse to take medication due to it’s zombie like effects or their stubborn preference to feel like crap on a semi to regular basis. Some take every pill, every day as if it was some sort of religion or miraculous savior. I’m the latter.

For me, depression causes anxiety. I try to convince myself I’m not crippled by it but the weird thoughts indicate I am . I’m okay with it, but not really. I tell myself I’m okay with sitting, stewing and feeling a miserable hole deep inside my soul that shifts into 10,000 pounds of weight tugging me down like an anchor in the ocean.

I tell myself, You’re going to the library today. As I sit here typing this I know I’m not going anywhere. I just can’t. I will go through the motions. I’ll eat, shower, pack my laptop in my bag but I won’t cross the front doorway. I’ll panic about the possibility of panicking and opt to write in my workshop instead of my office for change of scenery.

I experience Bipolar Disorder II. It’s a chemical imbalance in my brain passed down to me through genetics, and it’s bigger than I am.

I often wonder if my symptoms are less manageable due to environment. I’m not talking trees, cornfields or croaking frogs. I’m talking about forcing myself to be part of a society I feel uncomfortable with and disconnected from. This has been on my mind lately.

I believe it’s possible there are negative impacts of every day life and environment that far outweigh coping skills.

The Outermost House was written by Henry Beston and published in 1928 after he spent a year alone in his cabin on Cape Cod. He referred to his cabin as “Fo’Castle.” His only engagement to the outside world were trips into town for provisions at the beginning of his retreat and when Guardsmen from the Nauset Coast Guard station would stop in while doing checks along the coast.

He was alone out there in his world.

He set out with the intention of using the cabin for vacation but once he connected with the ocean, wildlife and himself he no longer wanted to leave. After spending a year there alone he collected an excessive amount of notes from his experience which lead to the writing of The Outermost House. The site of the cabin was eventually declared a National Literary Landmark.

His words moved me and carried me off to a place I didn’t want to leave. The same as he didn’t. I felt safe and cozy. His detail placed me inside the walls of Fo’ Castle’s warmth. It protected me from the stormy weather and angry thrash of the ocean’s waves. With each turn of a page I felt more at peace. We stood on the sand dunes side by side as our eyes followed flocks of birds flying weightless above us in the sky.

It’s astonishing how the words of another can settle you into a place you have long desired to be, without knowing it will be your journey when you open the cover of a book.

What do we value as a rewarding lifestyle? What if I have no desire for money, glamour or fame? I’m one of those people who will help others get to safety during a mass shooting opposed to live streaming it for 100,000 likes on Facebook. Maybe because I don’t meet societal expectations I feel sorry for myself, down and insufficient?

Imagine a life where you only live by your standards and exist on the bare minimum with no financial stress, no need for social status and no knowledge of world crisis. I often imagine this myself and my first thought is always the same. Would my symptoms be more manageable if I lived in an environment where I could just be me?

Maybe stepping outside the box will lead to success. I won’t know unless I try, but what I do know for sure is that by living a life based on a system that’s intended to fail us brings little happiness and basically kills all joy.

When we hold ourselves to the standards of other we will fail because some of us, most of us I would think we’re following the wrong path. One that wasn’t meant for us. One where we feel we don’t belong.

The idea of this is depressing. We don’t have to conform. I call bullshit.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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