1. A Personal History of Depression
Depression has, in one form or another, been the narrative fabric of my life. It has held everything together, but in a cohesive way instead of a constructive way. I am a child of the late 80's, in which Prozac was hailed as the wonder drug that would treat depression of all forms. It was no secret that Prozac was prescribed like candy, and it was used like Advil. The misuses of this failed wonder-drug were equally numerous and absurd. It was used to treat bed wetting. It could solve anything. I, at 7 years old or so, had complained of irritability and constant boredom, along with the social anxiety that traditionally accompanies an awkward boy such as myself. As it happens, most early manifestations of depression are physical symptoms (such as headaches) and social/psychological symptoms (such as sleep disorders, phobias, and anxiety). Depression itself is difficult to identify in children for this reason. This doesn't make the doctor's job any more difficult, of course. I didn't say more than eight sentences to the doctor that willingly prescribed the green and white pill. As it happened, Prozac didn't make me feel better. It actually made me feel worse. A lot worse. I might get into that later. In an act drawn from rebellion rather than self-preservation, I emptied out the white powder before eating the pill- a placebo for my parents, perhaps.
My cure for depression, some 12 or so years later, was interpreting life as a system of symbols that can only be understood through active interpretation. With this came the fundamental understanding that I would never conquer depression without first understanding it. And this is where the story of Benko begins. My goal has, in this phase of my life, been to understand and appreciate myself in all of my endeavors. As it happens, I am a fairly big believer in my own little understanding of scientific reductionism. According to this perspective of mine, there is no longer a substantial field of psychology. As individuals, humans unwillingly sacrifice themselves before the alter of larger social order. Individual morals are replaced by group morals. Individual identity is replaced by group identity. And this is, in some ways, a good thing. Indeed, it is the foundation for Man As Architect, as opposed to Man As Animal. In order to understand myself, I must understand the society that applies each individual a context. No man is an island. I began to view myself as a fundamental contradiction between the relationship between sociology and psychology. While the individual is inseparable from a larger social context by upbringing, language, culture, and other niceties that make life bearable, the only meaning they will ever approach as genuine and revealing must come from personal struggle, personal discovery, and personal experience. My goal in life is to understand this relationship. I once viewed this conflict in terms of study of popular culture, through stereotypes and misunderstandings that are manifested as neuroses. Soon came the realization that depression is the critical narrative of the modern American. As a result, I am trying to understand America as a social structure that, for some reason, propagates depression as social code. I am confused, but I a learning. Please join me.