I've often wondered what evolutionary purpose depression serves. Its been around as long as the human race has walked this earth. Because it has persisted so long and has not been phased out, it must be beneficial to our survival right?. But why?
When I'm in its throes, I don't considered my depression as beneficial to my life. Even its effects on my life have been challenging: It has stalled my life vocationally, strained relationships, and done a real number on my self-esteem. Yet reluctantly I believe it must persist. It must not be eradicated fully. Here are my reasons:
- In order to experience the full spectrum of human emotion, depression must be part of the mix. You cannot define happiness unless you can reference it to sadness. The reverse is also true.
- It slows us down and causes us to ponder the deeper issues of humanity. Most of the great poetry and artisitic confrontation with the world has been birthed in the depressed heart of the artist. It gives the existential questions of life an honest hearing.
- Enjoyment of life is fully seized. Because of my depression, I am much more intentional about making my life truly significant. Time with my kids and wife and others is rarely squandered in my better moments. I gotta seize the day.
- Depression makes us empathetic to the pain of others. People who have experienced deep depression can resonate deeply with another's pain, no matter how intense. It provides comfort and consolation.
- It inspires us to make the needed changes to make our world a better place. There is much about our society and world that is less than inspiring (you know intuitively what they are). In fact they can be downright depressing. Confronting the tough issues and helping to transform our world so they no longer drag down the heart is essential for a better world and a movement toward a meaningful future.
As much as I dread the moment of agony I know will come again, I persist in the belief that its gotta be good for my soul – and so I carry on…