How does one keep from being depressed during times of trouble?
Now that’s a general question and it’s like somebody who comes to a physician and says, “How can I be well?” You have to tell him first what you’re suffering from and you have to tell him in detail. And after he thinks of the symptoms and he studies your case, he may be able to help you.
But since it’s a general question we’ll say a general answer.
There are so many positive things in life that a depressed person should consider, thoughts that if you’ll concentrate on them you’ll begin to see how fortunate you are.
But we’ll just give one suggestion. The first thing to do if you’re depressed is to go to a cemetery. And stand outside and think who is better off. Or take a walk on Coney Island Avenue and you’ll pass three funeral parlors within a half hour. They call them funeral homes so you might think that inside, their customers are going to remain there for the next fifty years. It’s a home so maybe they serve them meals, and their children will visit them there. No, no, it’s not that kind of home. So as you pass by think, who is better off?
Look at the blue sky. You know they’re all low buildings, the funeral homes on Coney Island Avenue, and you can look at the blue sky over them. And so you look at the funeral home and then you look at the beautiful sky. If you walk by or you drive by, take a look at the big blue expanse of sky overhead. You can look at it and see it and enjoy it. What are you depressed about? The ones in the home, they should be depressed. They can’t enjoy the blue sky anymore.
If you wish, I’ll give you the address of a man who comes out of his house every morning; somebody wheels him out in a wheelchair. And he has a blanket over his lap. Sometimes the blanket is raised up and you see there are no feet. He doesn’t have any feet at all. And then look at your two legs. Let’s say you have arthritic legs, okay. But you want to exchange your arthritic legs for his?
And therefore depressed people should undertake a course of study and see those who don’t have what they have and you’ll see that your depression is actually nothing. It’s a minor matter, and it’s really silly. In fact, you should be so happy that you should dance for joy.
This Shabbos I was saying in the shul that for those who are depressed we should invite twenty of these people into the shul to testify. One of them is the man without legs. Roll him in with his wheelchair and let him give a speech to you depressed people and let’s see who should be depressed.
And then roll in somebody else who is not able to use his pi hataba’as, his rectum. He has to excrete through a bag in the side. And let’s see who is happier, you or he?
Roll in another man; he’ll walk in tapping his way with a white cane. And let’s see who is depressed, you or he?
And you’ll summon twenty such witnesses and after that treatment if you’re still depressed then you’re not depressed – you’re insane
And the truth is depression is a form of insanity. There are people who are perfectly healthy. They have no serious troubles in life and they’re depressed. And you try to discover what it is and they themselves don’t know. So it’s insanity. That’s already a different problem, insanity. But those people who still are reasonable and they’re depressed anyhow, they’re able to treat themselves with this method. Like the Chovos Halevavos says, always look at those who are beneath you in good fortune. And there are plenty of them.
But for first aid, for a quick aid, as I said you should go to the cemetery and stand there and think about it.
TAPE # 380 (September 1981)