The Oppression of Thought
I wrote the following a few months ago, after weeks of processing the critique from a writing professor. "It's not a question of whether you're a good writer, that is very clear. It's a question of who you are in your work." I had never been so dumbstruck or bombarded by the sudden need to gush tears from my eyeballs or reassess my life, until I realized, maybe I haven't had the chance to know who I am. Or better yet, I haven't developed the ear for it.
I can't hear myself, if I don't have the chance to listen.
I worry I’m too depressed to write. Like a writer’s block in the form of a muzzle, straight jacket, and padded helmet, entirely impeding any sort of arrangement of words on a screen, page, Post-It or napkin crumpled in my car console. When I take the Kaiser mental health quiz, which I highly encourage for any person looking for a laugh and the fastest diagnosis known to the internet, I question my first assessment. Am I too depressed, or are we all too depressed? Rather than spiral an entire society into a deeper despair than this quiz can diagnose, I wonder if depression isn’t the problem at all?
I consider my inability to write, again. It’s as if forming complete sentences, unique thoughts, and occasional answers of three or more words is nearly impossible. It’s like returning to infancy and asking for the book about the family of colored dots on the bookshelf by grunting at your mother for half an hour as she hopelessly pulls each book off the shelf. Sorry mom, I couldn’t ask for the book about the dots because I haven’t developed language yet. That is what it feels like.
Does this mean I’ve devolved? Unlikely, I think. Or hope. Instead, I think this critical state of depression is, in fact, a state of oppression by thought. You heard me. I don’t think I am or you are (unless you are, clinically, beyond the Kaiser 10 question test, depressed--I understand I have been too) but are in fact depressed by the pressure of thought.
I don't think I am depressed, but in fact oppressed by the pressure of thought.
I asked a friend recently what she would do next with her career, or what she would do if she wasn’t doing “this.” She thought about it for days, returned with sad puppy eyes to say “I have no idea, mostly because I don’t have the space to fathom anything outside of what I’m doing now.” There, you have it folks. Oppression caused by the very life we’re living in the chronically busy, content driven, sparkly-social-media-world in which what we do is never enough for our likes (or desired salaries), let alone ourselves. We are so busy being busy that our conscious and subconscious are just muddling through, trying to make it to the next nap, yoga class, or vacation. Those moments, of course, may reveal a moment of quiet and just enough space that the brain and body can restart communication with your creative center, but they’re quickly followed by a text, email, or stupid notification to buy something on Poshmark.
We are so busy being busy that our conscious and subconscious are just muddling through, trying to make it to the next nap, yoga class, or vacation.
It is no wonder I think I’m depressed when I literally can’t form sentences by trying to piece together the magnetic poetry tiles sloshing around my overflowing brain. There is no quick fix, flush, cleanse, pill, or reboot for this state of oppression. There is only the remedy of quiet. Because in quiet, the self returns, the writing begins, and the chatter falls by the wayside faster than it takes to see a single doctor at Kaiser.
So then, how do we take ourselves back, and cultivate a space somewhere between the overbooked iCal and our overflowing stack of outdated library books? We pause. Evaluate. Edit. and Reevaluate. Remember the balance, quiet, and peace we’ve forgotten to seek.
Do you find yourself oppressed by thought? What are you tips and tricks for seeking quiet? Tell me about it in the comments?