By Christopher Cudworth
As a nail-biting and moody kid from the get-go, I can relate to anyone and everyone who deals with anxiety and depression. Having a physical release can be vital to those who experience the very real challenges of daily anxiety and depression.
This video titled “I Had a Black Dog, His Name Was Depression,” has been released by the World Health Organization. It characterizes in a metaphorical way the emotional strain of dealing with depression. The video provides some practical suggestions on how to cope with long term depression. And understand that anxiety and depression are like two sides of the same coin. They feed upon one another. If you experience those symptoms, you know what we mean.
How exercise helps
The Mayo Clinic and many other health organizations have documented the benefits of exercise in helping people who experience depression and anxiety.
If you are a person who runs or rides or swims, you know the feeling of health and well-being that comes from a good workout. Self esteem is raised. Stress is reduced. But for those in the world who combat depression and anxiety, those workouts perform the vital function of simply bringing the mind and body back to a normal stasis. That’s what it’s like having depression and anxiety. It’s a lot of extra work at times just to feel normal.
You should be aware that everyone experiences depression at times. Anxiety too. Both are a normal part of life for most people. But there are millions of people who are hard-wired through brain chemistry to experience those emotions every day. Think of that. Every day.
You can call it mental illness, but be careful with the stigma you attach to that term. Many of the world’s greatest minds have been subject to depression. Winston Churchill may have been the first to call it the Black Dog. His brilliance and determination were perhaps forged in part by his lifelong struggles through depression.
Musician John Lennon also knew the heartache of depression. Yet his songs and his examples of great simplicity in the world (Give Peace A Chance, All You Need is Love) have helped millions understand the world in vital ways.
So it may not be so much a mental illness as it is a form of mental insight. People with depression have a great deal to offer us. But they also have a great deal to deal with. That is the ultimate tarsnake of existence.
Which brings us to a Lennon-inspired way of looking at depression and anxiety that was processed through the music of the Beatles. We’re talking about the movie Yellow Submarine and dealing with the dreaded Blue Meanies.
If you have never watched the film, the plot line involves dimension of time and space. The Beatles pass through a time portal and find themselves (pun intended) in the roles of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Clubs Band in a different time era, with eerily familiar dimensions.
Power and tenderness
The dreamlike quality of Yellow Submarine makes it a particularly powerful way in which to communicate timeless struggles. We find a world in which a fascist segment of society of Blue Meanies begins to strike the world at its tenderest points. Snapping Turks and Giant Apple Boppers descend on the innocent citizens, rendering them Blue and frozen in time.
Into this fray enter the laconically desirable Beatles; John, Paul, George and Ringo. They pass through artfully wacky worlds including a Sea of Holes, in which Ringo discovers he’s got “A hole in me pocket.”
The movie recalls the great struggles of European wars including Nazi Germany. There is even a vicious giant Blue Glove that soars around the landscape pounding people to smithereens and doing the dirty work of the head Blue Meanie, whose relationship with the glove is disturbingly intimate.
In the end the Beatles triumph through music and love and laughter. But they have to run for their lives to survive.
Run for your life
The lesson here is that the Blue Meanies are real at both the personal and global level. The world can be a depressing place at times. If you have depression on top of that, every day can suck, and royally. There is even a character in the movie Yellow Submarine that walks around with its trumpet like nose sucking things out of existence. It’s a straightforward joke that anticipates a term that developed over the years: “Life sucks, and then you die.”
Well, it’s not that bad all the time, or is it?
Then you encounter the Blue Meanies of the world. Those people who not only oppress you, but seem to enjoy doing it. They may or may not be depressed themselves, but they feed on the power rush they get from dominating others.
They are psychopaths and sociopaths, or sometimes just a mean or insensitive boss. The distinctions aren’t always clear in those categories. There are far more psychopaths in this world than we care to admit. Folks, the Blue Meanies are real. So what do we do about it?
Run to the Light
We do as the Beatles did in Yellow Submarine. We run for our lives. We run to the light. We ride and we swim and we make life better by controlling our brain chemistry and getting out into the open where life does not feel so oppressive.
You know it’s true. Running and riding and swimming really is cheaper than therapy. But don’t think that therapy is not valuable for many people. It is. A good therapist can help you understand your emotions and feelings, even your past.
And there are valuable prescription drugs to put “air in your tires” on a daily basis. You can relate, right? Trying to ride 40 miles with low pressure in your tires is much harder than rolling along with 120 psi inside your skinnies.
So get out there and know you’re doing the right thing. We’ve just passed by the Most Depressing Day of the Year on Monday, January 6. So you’ve made it this far. Let’s all fight the Blue Meanies together. And go out with a song, written and sung by George Harrison.