Wednesday, March 11, 2015

When the brain is tired.

Just finished Alan Watt’s The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety. Though the book veers towards the religious in it’s last third, the first two-thirds have some excellent insight into psychological security and how our need for it exacerbates our anxiety and depression.

I found this passage beautiful and helpful in describing the way some court suicide. For someone who is healthy and strong, it might not make much sense, this can help in trying to understand:

For when the body is worn out and the brain is tired, the whole organism welcomes death. But it is difficult to understands how death can be welcome when you are young and strong, so that you come to regard it as a dreaded and terrible event. For the brain, in its immaterial way, looks into the future and conceives it a good to go on and on and on forever - not realizing that its own material would at last find the process intolerably tiresome. Not taking this into account, the brain fails to see that, being itself material and subject to change, its desires will change, and a time will come when death will be good. On a bright morning after a good night’s rest, you do not want to go to sleep. But after a hard day’s work the sensation of dropping into unconsciousness is extraordinarily pleasant. (67)

That last two sentences really hit the nail on the head for me. There are some days that feel like I’m pulling myself through such drudgery. Breathing hurts. My cells are itching with something unbearable and microcosmic. On days like this I am so sensitive from exhaustion that dropping into the unconscious sounds like heaven. The unconscious here sounds like escaping your life. It rings of release and quiet. It's a siren call promising serenity and nothingness. 

Nothingness might sounds terrible to you. But when the alternative to nothingness is the unbearable weight of depression and/or the torment of the constant agitation of anxiety believe me when I say it sounds divine. It sounds like a beautiful spring day after a long, hard winter. 

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