The word suffering seems so all-inclusive. Here’s what popped up in a Google search:
Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Suffering is the basic element that makes up the negative valence of affective phenomena. The opposite of suffering is pleasure or happiness.
I get that my depression is always the opposite of pleasure or happiness.
That makes sense. I have written often about my lack of happiness. And I am certainly not expecting to be blissfully happy every minute of every day. This is an unhealthy expectation. And my depression doesn’t get me to be in charge all the time. However, it can be a dictator when it gets on a roll.
I am looking for a bit of balance.
At the top of my blog, I have written, “I suffer from depression.” Then I add, “Here’s what I am learning.” As I opened my laptop this morning, this “tagline” caught my eye. And it made me wonder if it is really true. If it is, I am giving a lot of credit to my depression. But I do have an aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm.
But doesn’t any rational person have the same aversion?
It is hard to envision someone not having an aversion to the experience of unpleasantness. But then, I do know there are those who use extreme sports or physical bodily harm in order to feel alive. Cutting, I believe, is one term for this act, the action of one seeking to confirm they are alive. I will need to leave this subject for others with more extensive training in these activities.
These actions are beyond my limited understanding of psychology.
Generally, people are looking for the easiest way, the road most comfortable. They are seeking pleasure and happiness. They do not go looking for harm or the threat of harm. A person who lives under a cloud such as this, Pig Pen, the Charlie Brown character who comes to mind, does not expect happiness. Eeyore, the donkey, in Christopher Robin’s Adventures also lives this way.
However, Eeyore expects disappointment, while Pig Pen just accepts life as it is.
So, the two fictional characters have differing ideas about the definition of suffering. This seems like a deep observation, but it doesn’t help me understand my relationship with depression. The question I am still trying to answer is the same.
Do I suffer from depression, or do I only have depression?
This is too much to consider this morning. The sun is up, and my chores await. Plus, I plan to drive into town and visit Mom this morning. I will need to come back to this idea of suffering. It is clear to me that there is more to my understanding than a quick fictional reference or two.