Rollo May, an American psychologist, suggests that depression is “the inability to see or construct a future.” 1 This 8 word definition blew me away the first time I read it. He really nailed it! Think about it for a moment. If there is no future then there is no expiration date on my suffering. There is no painless tomorrow. There will never be another sun rise to blast away the darkness. This is why my depression is so intense and overpowering. It is eternal and in it’s eternity it is meaningless and hopeless. Depression is, in fact, hopelessness incarnate. And I use the word “incarnate” deliberately because the hopelessness is literally “embodied in the flesh.” It is felt with my whole body as well as my mind.
This goes a long way to explain why I have no will. After all:
will 2 |wil|
1 [usu. in sing.] the faculty by which a person decides on and and initiates action
“Initiates” requires a future. “Action” requires a future. As a verb, will expresses the future tense. If there is no future, there is no will.
I would also add to May’s statement that depression is the inability to reconstruct a past. When I am deep in a depression, there is nothing but right now. There never was a time when I wasn’t depressed and there never will be a time when I am not depressed. And this means that my suffering is timeless. All I have is the present, unchanging, never ending moment. All I have is right NOW! And in this NOW I’m struggling to find reasons to stay alive. This NOW is hell.
- Rollo May, Love and Will, (1969) p. 243. ↩