Welcome your newest sin, Schadenfreude

This is based off the Daily Post writing prompt, The Eighth Sin.

According to wikipedia, schadenfreude literally means “harm-joy”. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it means enjoying someone else’s misfortune. There are other english phrases similar like “Roman Holiday” or even gloating could make a poor substitute. For me, however, schadenfreude as always stuck in my mind since it is a word that is not completely translatable (so I’ve been told).

We all have dark parts in our soul. Sometimes they fleeting, like a bad day at work or a fight with someone close to you. In those short-lived moments of darkness, we say things we don’t mean or think things we would never think would dare entertain otherwise. Sometimes when we are temporarily twisted, we wish harm on other because we think it will make our darkness go away, but realize the irrationality in that when we come to.  Those moments are forgivable, because part of the human condition to fail every once in a while.

I’m also not talking about the times when we laugh at someone’s temporary physical pain. There are a few times where I have laughed at myself for falling. There are entire genres of comedy based on the fact we tend to laugh when someone gets a pie in their face or trips on their own two feet. My guess is that most of it know what it’s like to be a klutz from time to time, and that laughter comes from a shared experience.

The schadenfreude I’m referring to is one hundred percent out of malice that is not temporary. I have been on both sides of this blade, and it is not easy being the victim or the murderer.

When my high school boyfriend and I parted ways, our relationship was in shambles. The breaking point for me was his interest in someone else, and I have a feeling that if I hadn’t ended it when I did, he would have. Shortly after our breakup, he started to date. It was the first serious relationship I had ever had, and I probably shouldn’t have taken it as serious as I did, but seventeen year olds tend to think their relationships are infallible. We tried to keep some sort of friendship, but it was in just as bad or if not worse condition than our romantic relationship.

I wished him harm, and not just for a couple weeks. I hoped every day that his current lady love would betray him, like he did to me, for months and months until it became years. I thought his pain would bring me so much joy that the pain he had so graciously bestowed on me would vanish. It would vanish and I would be free of him. I would have stabbed a voo-doo doll a million times if someone told me it would guarantee that he would “get what he deserved”. Except pain never cancels itself out, only gains in strength until you’re ready to face it.

Almost two years from our split, I got (almost) exactly what I had wished for. He had confided in me that his girlfriend (the woman he had left me for), had manipulated him into an open relationship of sorts. At first I rejoiced, because now he know how I felt, until the mirror started to reflect back at me. I saw my pain in his, going through the same lamentations. He didn’t understand, and wanted to punch this other guy right in the face. His pain didn’t make me feel any better. Not only did it remind me of the hurt I still had, but the new pain of regretting what I had wished all these years. All I could say to him was, “I’m so sorry.” I don’t know if he ever realized I was also apologized for all the “bad vibes” I had sent his way. However, most people would say what I thought was completely normal, and that he deserved that pain. I do not believe he did.

I learned the harsh lesson most of us learn, that schadenfreude on this scale is damnable. Some people do not, and I have found myself in their sights more than once. The kind of people who would purposely do things to upset me (like call me certain names or interact with me that is in no way appropriate), and laugh right in my face. That kind of sin, the kind where you have no care for the people around you, is the greatest sin you could ever commit in my opinion.

I know I’m a bit sensitive for this human beat human world, but our lack of compassion for each other will eventually drive us all into the ground. All it takes is for us to be indifferent at best, happy at worst, or for the bomb to drop because we forget to be kind to each other.


Depression Does Not Care (The long, foggy road)

“No! Are you sure it’s not a hoax?”, my mom said before turning on CNN to find the news story,“You know, I don’t get why he would commit suicide, he had everything anyone could want.”

Robin Williams is one of my favorite actors. He was apart of my childhood from Aladdin to Jumanji. He chilled me as an adult on his appearance on Law and Order: SVU. Like many, I am heartbroken we have lost such a beautiful human in this way.

Every time someone of note passes away from suicide, I always end up hearing something like my mother said. From an observer’s point of view, I can see why this thought might pop up. However, it isn’t always that simple.

I’ve battled anxiety and depression since my early teens. I was on medication and therapy for a number of years. For a long time, I had it under control, but it likes to seep back in every once in a while (As you get older, you find more and more things to get anxious about).  I don’t talk about it much, because it’s a sensitive topic, not so much for me, but for other people. Personal flaws are not an easy conversation in confident American culture, where we always have to sell the best version of ourselves. I’m always afraid that talking about my journey will bite me in the ass some day, but maybe I can shed some light. It’s the least I can try to do for a man who taught me to be a goofball and made me laugh, even when it seems all the lights are out.

I haven’t had a perfect life, but a relatively comfortable one. Some days are worse than others, but I have a roof over my head, food, good company, and lots of yarn. Some days I wake up automatically not wanting to get out of bed because, “What’s the point? Do I even matter? I don’t think I do.”

Depression doesn’t care that I have a family that loves me. Depression doesn’t care that I have a boyfriend who loves me and is willing to stand by me through my hopelessness. It doesn’t give a shit that I have “nice” stuff. It doesn’t care that I love to write, or sing, or dance. It could care less about the friends who worry when I don’t answer their texts or calls. It doesn’t play nice when the people who love me wish I would get out of bed, stop crying, and enjoy the fresh air. It makes me feel small when it tells me, “You’re a piece of crap that will go nowhere just like they said when you were younger.” Depression doesn’t have a “type”. It doesn’t see your race, gender, your wealth, your family life, or your popularity and decide to pass you over. According to the CDC, 8 million Americans between 2009 and 2010 were diagnosed with major depressive disorder. In 2011, over thirty nine thousand people committed suicide. It is relentless.

In the same way my depression doesn’t care about how good of a life I have, the same is true for Mr. Williams. It didn’t care that he was famous and all the perks that come with it. It did not give a flying pig’s behind that even at 63, he still had a whole career ahead of him if he wanted it. It didn’t care that he already had a hard battle to fight with drugs and alcohol. It doesn’t care that millions of people would have done anything to stop him because of the joy he brought them, his loved ones most of all.

For me, it feels like a fog that you can’t drive out of. It sticks to your bones and consumes them to the core until you don’t know who you are anymore. You stop writing. You snap at things that never upset you before. You don’t want to go anywhere or do anything and your bed becomes your best friend. You cry, sometimes because you have no hope and sometimes for no reason at all. Sometimes, when the pain is too great, you think about slipping away entirely, because there is no point in any of this, right? You’re never going to be happy. You’re not worthy of it. You are not worthy of anything.

You have to drive long nights to get out of that fog, sometimes when you can’t even see two inches in front of you and you feel like stopping. You question if you have the skill to drive yourself out of this. Even if you do finally drive through it, and find yourself again, it can always come back. Unfortunately, not all of us make it out.

Depression is complex because there are different types even though the symptoms are similar, and it tends to manifest differently in each person. The description I wrote is based on my own experience, because I can only speak for myself, but some else can experience depression in a completely different way. Some only suffer once in their life while others it is an everyday battle. The symptoms can be so minor that even the person suffering might not even notice, or some people are so good at masking them you would never know what’s going on inside their head.  There is no one singular treatment that works for everyone. If you need to find help, pull over and find it. If you are fighting, know that you worthy enough to see what’s on the other side of that fog. It’s worth fighting for.

Be at peace, Mr. Williams. You were a genius and that’s how I will remember you.