Yesterday I had a really good discussion with my therapist about the differences between sadness and depression, that sadness may actually result from the feeling of powerlessness over one’s own situation. Doing the course of the discussion, I related that when I walked into a chicken restaurant, was overcome by a wave of uncontrollable sadness when I saw the bain-marie full of fried chicken pieces juxtaposed with a cute cartoon graphic of a chicken on the overhead menu. Seeing all that chicken and thinking of the number of animals that had to be killed in order to produce this monument to capitalism sickened me considerably. So intense was the feeling that I had to leave before I burst into tears. As soon as I got to my car I started to cry. My therapist helped me to understand that this is not necessarily a sign of depression, but a sign that I feel and care intensely and thus a sign that I am actually getting better. Somebody depressed would be less likely to feel anything at all.
The sight of the bain-marie display of a lot of chicken made me also realize how much of that prepared chicken would simply go to waste after a while when nobody bought it. Beautiful lives were sacrificed in the name of capitalism only to have the chicken sit unconsumed in a warming display until mostly wasted. In the name of convenience, excess chicken gets fried up so people don’t have to wait. Animals lives get sacrificed all in the name of convenience and we do not think about that. This may be the beginning of my journey towards a vegan lifestyle; or at the very least I will never walk into that fried chicken place again. The lives of those chickens, much like many of the working class of capitalist America, are whittled down to a profit/loss calculation.
It helped to understand that this wave of sadness is not something to be inordinately concerned over because it does not mean that I am headed for another mental breakdown. In some ways, this is a recognition that I feel powerless over my own situation and that I am not alone. Capitalism wants the individual worker to feel as if they have no power so that they take no tangible actions towards taking away from the capitalist class of the world, the Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos types. The wealthy want us to believe that there is no point in rising up or taking action because the aforementioned action will only result in failure; despondency if you will.
I would like to overcome this sense of powerlessness and would like to have some feeling that I have control and power, but I do not want the illusion of it. I realize that for the years prior to becoming disabled, I lived under the societal myth that I did have power. The only power I have is the decision as to whether or not I work or starve and be homeless without a safety net. Upon further reflection, my therapist helped me to understand that I do have some power and I need to exercise what little I have to make my life have a purpose. By not patronizing the chicken restaurant, I am exercising my power not to help wasteful capitalism.
Sometimes when I feel especially vulnerable and sad, all it will take will be an environmental trigger like a sad song or a sound that has plaintive, desperate overtones to make me want to burst into tears. Sometimes it will be a simple image. I realize that I am a sensitive person as well. There is one particular emoji that will always bring me to this point and that is the face with the zig-zagged smile. These things bring a deep visceral feeling that I experience straight from my gut on a level that transcends human language, words cannot accurately capture the feeling. That much said it helps to understand that these feelings may well stem from simply feeling powerless. I am relieved that it is not the existential crisis that I was initially concerned with. The way to make these sensations not as strong and overpowering is to take some form of cognitive action like my therapist is helping me to do.