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  • Writer's pictureNathan Foley

The Labyrinth - CRC 2019

Updated: Aug 7, 2021

Should I go? I mean, I miss seeing everyone as much as I used to, but I just can’t convince myself. I don’t quite know how to explain it—neither to you, nor even myself—but everything just feels… different. These are people I consider my closest friends, practically family, but I can’t bring myself to turn the key. Here I am, sitting in my Hyundai Tucson, not so much contemplating whether or not I should attend this party, but delaying the inevitable and prolonging my torment in this limbo of sorts. The worst part of it is I can’t even for the life of me explain to you exactly why I’m just sitting here and not making a decision either way. Do I like this torment? I suppose I should just go. There was once a time when I didn’t need to prepare myself for a gathering with my closest of friends. Hell, before I didn’t even need to prepare myself for a gathering with complete strangers. But here I am, driving five miles below the speed limit, nearly hyperventilating my way to my best friend’s house. Why am I such a paralyzed nervous wreck? Why have I become so familiar with this paralysis? Am I depressed?

Depression has a plethora of meanings depending on who you speak to, but much of that is due to society’s struggles when it comes to succinctly defining and treating mental health. Depression can cause the loss of pleasure in anything you normally enjoy, irritability, inexplicable bodily aches, lack of energy, sudden feelings of guilt and dread, and slowed thinking (Hall-Flavin). Depression isn’t so much an emotion as it is a state of being. Though our society is improving its understanding of mental health, there is still much room for further improvement in that regard. “Almost 18.8 million American adults experience depression each year, and women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop major depression” (Bhandari). If there are so many people suffering from depression, how is it still such a murky concept? It is not because we are willfully ignorant of mental health issues, it is because the human mind is so incredibly complex that we struggle to come to terms with coping with and treating mental health issues.

The human mind is still such a mystery. The mind is not just a storing space for memories, useless trivia, and test answers, but a labyrinth of experiences, thoughts, emotions, decisions, hopes, desires, and phobias. There is the upper-current of thought, which can be simply thought of as such: “I enjoy this,” “This is right,” and “This is wrong.” This current of thought is universal, everyone experiences these distinctions, the difference comes from how individuals come to these conclusions. The under-current of thought is why your mind decides whether or not you enjoy this or that, whether or not you view that as right or wrong. There are the decisions we make on the surface, but also “...beneath lies a deep, and perhaps turbulent, reservoir of thoughts of all kinds, in which lie the deep currents—and perhaps even hidden monsters—that govern the mind” (Chater). The complexities of the mind are the leading cause of our ignorance towards mental health issues. What are we to do against these hidden monsters?

These monsters hiding in the labyrinth are the voices that tell us, “You’re not good enough.” Everyone has experienced this voice, but for some, that voice never quiets. One prominent figure in not only pop-culture, but in the discussion of mental health is Carrie Fisher. She struggled with mental health issues all her life, and she was very vocal about her struggles. In her book The Princess Diarist, she describes her inner voice following her Star Wars audition. “I beat myself up loud and long. Did they like me? Did they think I was fat? Did they think I looked like a bowl of oatmeal with features?” (26). She did fantastically well and of course earned the part of Leia, but the monsters hiding in the shadowy corners of her mind convinced her that she was not good enough.

There are many ways to help combat depression, but the first step is always to recognize that there is indeed a problem. From there, you can determine what gives rise to feelings of dread, exhaustion, anxiety, and guilt. Sometimes it is situational, sometimes it is chemical. Chemical causes can be harder to discern, but they can be treated all the same. Medicinal treatments have done wonders to help improve living with depression. They can help your mind interact with situations, they can help change your under-current’s perspective of the same situations. “They may help improve the way your brain uses certain chemicals that control mood or stress” (“Depression”). Though it is treatable, it is up to all of us to recognize what depression is in the first place.

Now that I’m back home, all of my energy is absolutely spent. Why is it that I had to work myself up to this? I shouldn’t have to do mental parkour to prepare for a gathering with my friends. Now that all of my energy is spent, it’s now time for me to slide down this mental mountain into the depths of paralysis. There is a line from John Milton’s Paradise Lost that rings so very true when it comes to depression’s effects on the human mind: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n” (254-255). I’ve successfully created a hell of what I used to regard as a heaven. But I didn’t do it myself, but something within me has done that work for me. Is it my mind that is working so hard against me? What am I to do against a hidden foe of my mind’s own creation?

Works Cited

Bhandari, Smitha. “Is It Depression or Just the Blues?” WebMD, 22 Apr. 2018, Accessed Feb. 2019.

Chater, Nick. “What We Know About the Human Mind.” Psychology Today, 29 July 2018, Accessed 6 Feb. 2019.

“Depression.” National Institute of Mental Health, Feb. 2018, Accessed 6 Feb. 2019.

Fisher, Carrie. The Princess Diarist. New York City, Penguin Publishing Group, 2016.

Hall-Flavin, Daniel. “Clinical Depression: What Does that Mean?” Mayo Clinic, 17 May 2017, Accessed 6 Feb. 2019.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. London ; New York, Penguin Books, 2000.

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